Katy Perry is often known for her outlandish and colorful costumes. The pop star has left that behind and is not even the focus in a new PSA that’s titled “Don’t let history repeat itself.” Although the PSA was released last week, it’s being mentioned following Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The short film, shot by Perry and directed by Aya Tanimura and Tim Nackashi, is raising awareness about the dangers of Islamophobia, reports the Huffington Post. It opens up with an 89-year-old woman named Haru Kurmiya recounting her memories of being taken to a concentration camp during World War II.
“We were an American farm family now living in an internment camp and our constitutional rights were taken away from us,” she’s heard saying in the video. “It all started with fears and rumors then it bloomed into the registration of Japanese Americans and then labeling with physical tags and then eventually internment.”
Haru, as fans find out later in the video, is actually Pakistani actress Hina Khan. She removes her gray wig and peels off her face to reveal herself. The screen fades to black as a message displays across the screen: “A Muslim registry is the first step in repeating history. Don’t turn against each other out of fear,” a response to Trump’s much-discussed Muslim registry.
Check out the video for yourself below.
There is no doubt that this video is already causing controversy. According to the Huffington Post report, having an actress play an Asian woman was not the best or most effective way to get the message across. Fans remarked why Perry couldn’t have both an Asian and a Pakistani woman featured in the video. Some would say that the PSA is borderline yellowface.
“I think like a lot of us who are terrified of Trump’s ideals and policies, she is too,” Tanimura said. “And this is one instance where she’s able to help educate someone – even one person – on the horrors of the past and what could potentially be repeated.”
Tanimura added that Perry even paid for the expensive prosthetic mask.
“Katy has always been a champion of the underdog, of minorities, of the people who are kind of left of center, and she’s become more politically involved in the last few election cycles.”
Tanimura also stated that Trump has created an “atmosphere of fear for Muslim Americans in the United States.” The director has taken to social media, posting a statement explaining the video’s purpose.
She has worked with Perry before, notes the Los Angeles Times. She directed Perry’s music videos for “Birthday,” “Roar,” and “Unconditionally.” Perry previously received backlash for her “Birthday” music video, according to the Hollywood Gossip. Civil rights groups slammed the pop star for her portrayal of bar mitzvah DJ “Yosef Shulum.”
Shulum was just one of the many characters Perry portrays in the eight-minute video. While other scenes drew laughs such as a group of drunken clowns or aging strippers, the majority of the video featured Shulum and poked fun at Jewish stereotypes.
That wasn’t the first time Perry has been the center of racial controversy. Back in November 2013, she drew criticism from Asian rights groups for her culturally offensive American Music Awards performance, in which she dressed up as a geisha and appropriated elements of both Japanese and Chinese culture. Perry never responded to either controversy.
Perry was one of presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s most outspoken supporters throughout most of the campaign. She even hit the campaign trail for the candidate and performed at July’s Democratic National Convention. Perry even tweeted shortly after the November election that she would “cry [her] false eyelashes off,” before writing to her 95 million Twitter followers the next day, “We will never be silenced.”
What are your thoughts on Katy Perry’s PSA? Do you think it borderline offensive or yellowface? Do you think it’s effective? Sound off below in the comments section.
[Featured Image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]