by Carmen Van Kerckhove
But not everyone warmed to Stefani’s ”whole fashion thing” — in particular, the showcasing of her admiration for Tokyo trendsetters via an entourage of four Japanese women that she called the Harajuku Girls. The Girls silently accompanied her on photo shoots and to public appearances, and subsequently appeared on her tour. Stefani regarded the Girls, all of whom looked as if they had come straight off the streets of the capital city’s hip Harajuku district, as a figment of her imagination brought to life in a culturally positive manner. But last year, Korean-American comedian Margaret Cho publicly decried them as ”a minstrel show.”
”She didn’t do her research!” spits Stefani, who says she’s been a fan of Japan and its mix-and-match fashion sense since first visiting the country with No Doubt in the mid-’90s. ”The truth is that I basically was saying how great that culture is. It pisses me off that [Cho] would not do the research and then talk out like that. It’s just so embarrassing for her. The Harajuku Girls is an art project. It’s fun!” (Cho told EW via e-mail, ”I absolutely agree! I didn’t do any research! I realize the Harajuku Girls rule!!! How embarrassing for me!!! I was just jealous that I didn’t get to be oneâ€¦ I dance really good!!!”)
Stefani continues: ”I was surprised how racist everybody was about them. Especially when I came over here and they’d make all these jokes, like Jonathan Ross.” Ross, a British TV host, asked Stefani whether an ”imaginary hand job” from one of her ”imaginary” dancers would count as cheating on his wife. Stefani responds, ”Everybody’s making jokes about Japanese girls and the stereotypes. I had no idea [I’d be] walking into that.”
Yeah, gee I wonder why people would view Japanese women as submissive, pliable creatures when Gwen Stefani is parading these four women around as dancing, giggling human props who are contractually obligated to only speak Japanese even though they’re all American.