American pop star Gwen Stefani has been accused of appropriating Black culture following the release of her recent music video for her new song, which has received a ton of backlash from various people online.
“Light My Fire,” a collaboration with dancehall star Sean Paul and Jamaican singer Shenseea, sees “The Voice” coach sport dreadlocks and a green and yellow outfit that matches the Jamaican flag while singing to a rocksteady beat.
This didn’t sit well with certain people online as they immediately went after Gwen Stefani and started accusing and criticising her on social media of intentionally appropriating the culture for her personal gain just after the song’s premiere on Wednesday.
According to CNN, some of the comments accusing her of cultural appropriation read:
“Gwen Stefani is BACK with a cultural appropriation banger,” one person on Twitter wrote. Another agreed, writing: “Y’all. Mother Appropriation is BACK!!!! Where my 2000s No Doubt/Gwen hive at!!!?? ITS TIME!!!”
Gwen Stefani was also reminded of earlier claims that she appropriated other cultures to further her music career by copying Japanese street style, wearing a bindi in music videos, and styling her hair in Bantu knots.
Another Twitter commenter wrote, “Dear Gwen, You’re far too comfortable with cultural appropriation. Y’all Remember the harajuku girls? The bindi she chose to wear in one her videos? The bantu knots? The imitation of indigenous culture within a music video, as well as, indecently portraying Latina women?”
However, some fans came to her defence, with one user writing pointing out that Sean Paul, who appeared with Stefani in the video, is himself Jamaican, adding that he “even praised Gwen for embracing the culture for years.
Gwen Stefani accused of cultural appropriation in ‘Light My Fire’ video
In 2006, comedian Margaret Cho branded Stefani’s Harajuku Girls — a troupe of Japanese and Japanese-American dancers she went around with at the time — a “minstrel show.”
Last year, the musician responded to accusations of cultural appropriation in an interview with Paper magazine, reiterating that she simply pays homage.
“If we didn’t buy and sell and trade our cultures in, we wouldn’t have so much beauty, you know?” she said at the time. “We learn from each other, we share from each other, we grow from each other. And all these rules are just dividing us more and more.”
Sean Paul, in an interview with Rolling Stone, called the song an “epic dream” come true. “I’ve been a fan of Gwen Stefani forever.”
Shenseea said in the same interview: “I feel honoured to be tapped by two legends for this collaboration, the whole process was exciting and collaborative. I can’t wait for our fans to enjoy the video!”