A winning performance on international music competition 2018 Eurovision Song Contest has sparked controversy online amid criticisms of cultural appropriation.
Israel’s Netta Barzilai claimed the top spot during the finals night of the longest-running annual international TV contest with an unusual performance of her song “Toy.”
While the song itself is not problematic, as it merely tackles not being under anyone’s control, Barzilai’s performance somehow managed to make it quite distasteful.
Dressed up in an assortment of stereotypical Asian styles (heavy makeup, hair buns, kimono), Barzilai performed her song with Maneki-Neko (waving cat figures) in the background.
Netizens who found the Asian references offensive took to Twitter to express their criticisms over the performer’s use of Asian culture for comical effect.
Late to the party. Holy $?#!, yellowface?! #Eurovision
— Jassa Ahluwalia (@OfficialJassa) May 12, 2018
— ellie (@eleanorbate) May 12, 2018
In a year when cultural appropriation has been a hot topic of conversation and Israel has been called to account for its racist and oppressive attitude towards Palestinians, Israel winning #Eurovision feels like a massive step backwards.
— Rachel Oelbaum (@pint_sized_one) May 12, 2018
— Ligi 🍙 ~ 轉 singularity (@ligiribeiro) May 12, 2018
So we’re all okay with Israel’s performance are we? And that make up? And that clear cultural appropriation and orientalism? And her doing the funky chicken?
— Heather Parry (@HeatherParryUK) May 12, 2018
Wanna know what cultural appropriation looks like? Look at Israel’s Eurovision entry. Terribly inaccurate Chinese inspired clothing and themes for the sake of aesthetic.
Treating a culture as an aesthetic is disgusting
— mochi @ austrian adventures 🇦🇹 (@mochi_sews) May 12, 2018
Cultural appropriation in media has become the subject of debate online recently, with performers such as French-Morrocan comedian Gad El Maleh using the Asian culture as the punchline for jokes or mere theme for performances.
Featured Image via YouTube / Eurovision Song Contest