A few weeks ago, John Mayer told the New York Times that he missed Katy Perry, and had a song on his new album devoted to her. The debut single titled “Still Feel Like Your Man” was mysteriously described as “ancient Japanese R&B,” with a video that resembled a “disco dojo.” In the original interview, Mayer brushes off fears of cultural appropriation, claiming that they were as sensitive as they could possibly be, and that it wouldn’t be inappropriate since “nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person.”
The video came out today and, well, John was wrong. There are dancing kung-fu pandas, a bizarre opening sequence that’s a cross between Madame Butterfly, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Kill Bill — and, yes, non-Asians in yellowface. Here are 11 of the most ridiculous moments from “Still Feel Like Your Man.”
1. The Madame Butterfly Love Interest
What would any heartbroken video be without a woman to stand in as Mayer’s object of affection? Since it’s “ancient Japanese R&B,” the only choice is to reference Madame Butterfly’s tragic heroine, Cio Cio San, by slapping a veil on a blonde girl and throwing in some butterflies.
2. Arbitrary “Japanese” Movie References
But wait! Mayer totally saw the other important Japanese movies, too, and wants you to know it. The long sweeping shot down a paper-walled hall featuring a stooped grandma-type could be a scene out of Memoirs of a Geisha, while her eye patch is a nod to Kill Bill. Except, not really because copyrights.
3. The Odd Choices in Accessories
Pssst, your hat is actually Korean.
4. The Angry Asian Woman in the Bird Hat
As far as authenticity goes, this woman is the only legit thing in this entire video. She masters the old-lady-shuffle run, wherein an Asian grandma doesn’t need to lift her feet off the floor in order to outrun you to the nearest open subway seat. Plus, her face has the death glare down pat. Though, what is perched on her head remains a mystery.
5. This Disco Dojo Tableau
Oh, so the tragic love of his life is being guarded by a stereotypical villain who happens to be surrounded by a malnourished sumo wrestler and a bunch of non-Asians dressed up as geishas? Seems completely appropriate for a disco dojo.
6. The Villain (Who’s Really the Hero)
My expression the entire video.
7. Dancing Kung-fu Pandas (part 1)
Since it’s a dojo, one must kick and punch accordingly, lest they be punished. And because it’s a video, it must come in dance-sequence form.
8. Dancing Kung-fu Pandas (part 2)
Poor pandas. First they get dragged to New York, now they’re forced to perform behind John Mayer.
9. The Requisite Martial-Arts Reference
Kendo break, because you need a fight sequence at some point.
10. Sumo Dance Sequence
If dancing kung-fu pandas weren’t enough, Mayer proves his worth to his Cio Cio San via an awkward, legs-splayed group-dance routine. At some point, he slaps his legs as if he were the malnourished sumo wrestler. It’s a shame they didn’t actually duke it out clad in the traditional loincloth.
11. The Inevitable Yellowface Moment
So you’re thinking: Wow, I almost made it through the entire video, and no one has geisha makeup! Then this girl appears, at one point fanning herself in a kimono-esque robe with no pants. Maybe he wasn’t expecting anyone to watch it all the way through?
After all that, it does seem oddly fitting that Mayer would create a Japanese-themed video as an ode to Katy Perry — this is a woman who thought it was completely appropriate to open up the American Music Awards dressed as a geisha. Good luck getting her back, John.