California-based indie idol group Sorb3t announced a break from social media after being accused of cultural appropriation.
An American J-pop group: Consisting of one Asian and two white aspiring musicians, the group drew significant online attention over their TikTok content with heavy J-pop influence.
The group’s call and response video posted on May 25 attracted over 5.5 million views in just 24 hours and sparked thousands of comments on TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter and Reddit before it was deleted.
Sounding Japanese: The clip, which was meant to introduce the group ahead of their performance at a cosplay convention, showed the three members announcing their names, chosen emojis and call and responses.
Ashe, the Asian member, says her call incorporates moves from the Chinese tile game Mahjong and ends with the catchphrase, “It’s my victory!”
Alice says her call is “Lucky! Lucky! Alice!”
Berry, the group’s leader, uses a Japanese accent while saying her call, “Strawberry.”
Sparking controversy: Commenters blasted Berry for her pronunciation of certain words, which they perceived as a forced attempt to sound Japanese. Many also criticized the group’s use of Japanese pop stars’ aesthetics without purportedly understanding or appreciating the art form’s history.
Following the backlash, Berry and Ashe uploaded separate apology videos. Berry acknowledged her white privilege and mentioned that she has a Japanese boyfriend.
I genuinely and wholeheartedly apologize to every single person that I have upset or that I have offended with my call and response. I truly did not have any ill intent, but I also understand that I have hurt a lot of people, and for that, I am sorry. Also, my boyfriend, who is Japanese, unintentionally came up with part of my call and response.
Ashe shared that she had been inundated with inquiries about her ethnicity but declined to reveal her specific Asian descent.
I’d like to show my thanks and my appreciation for the support we’ve been given. I never thought that our video would garner this kind of reaction in the first place… I understand and hear all the criticism we’ve been receiving about our performance and talents as an idol group… Although we are not the best that there are, we are most definitely trying.
Doxxing claims: On May 27, Sorb3t announced through their Instagram and TikTok accounts that they would be taking a break from social media for their safety as they were doxxed.
The post has since earned messages of support from commenters who condemned the doxxing.
“Why is everyone so cruel? just stop being so bitter and miserable, it’s not funny anymore. you wouldn’t like it if it happened to you,” a commenter wrote.
“I can’t believe how cruel the internet is. People are really comfortable being actual villains to 3 girls dancing and having fun on TikTok,” another chimed in.