Why Is Katy Perry's Sunflower Dress Causing a Ruckus?

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Katy Perry in her controversial dress (Getty Images)
Katy Perry in her controversial dress (Getty Images)

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? No? How about like someone about to cause a political controversy? Accidental activist and pop star Katy Perry showed up to her Tuesday night show in Taipei, Taiwain, wearing a dress adorned with sunflowers, which, incidentally was draped in more than spring equinox metaphors. It was draped in ... political statements. (Dun dun dun.)

If you're wondering where Perry's predilection for international politics came from, you're probably not alone, although it's likely just a coincidence that Katy Perry — a woman whose on-stage wardrobe is certainly over-the-top — wore such a heavy statement, one that infuriated Chinese fans while exciting some of her Taiwanese acolytes.

For those who are confused about how Perry got entwined in this controversy, here's a brief history lesson to catch you up to speed: a year ago, protesters occupied Taiwan's parliament in response to trade agreements with China. These protesters — who were mostly students — felt China had too much influence. The sunflower was utilized as a symbol to represent the movement and ultimately, optimism.

Some fans were thrilled to see Perry donning something that incidentally screamed "pro-Taiwan" and "anti-China." One posted a photo of Perry on Facebook — who, in addition to donning the dress, also draped herself in the Republic of China's (Taiwan's) flag — with a caption that read (translated): "ROC [Republic of China] national flag singing Katy back yay! So touching!"

A fan posted this photo of Katy Perry at the concert on Facebook — note the flag (Facebook)
A fan posted this photo of Katy Perry at the concert on Facebook — note the flag (Facebook)

However, this sunflower dress didn't leave China feeling particularly pleased. The Epoch Times reported China went so far to censor the dress the following day.

Further, the dress potentially alienates the singer's Chinese fans. According to Quartz, one of Perry's Chinese fans expressed her fury at Perry for donning such an anti-Chinese statement on a forum called Sina Weibo — especially because it may mean China could ban her from her performing. "I'm speechless over Fruit Sister [what Chinese fans call Perry, according to CNN]," the fan wrote. "I suppose she has no chance to come to the mainland anymore, though she might not care. These peformers who intervene in other countries' politics are the most annoying."

China has a history of banning artists who provoke anti-Chinese sentiment. Per Reuters, the country's Ministry of Culture has stated that, "any artistic group or individual who ever has engaged in activities which threaten our national sovereignty will not be allowed in," as would artists who "[threatened] national unity."

Anyone remember this costume guffaw? (Getty Images)
Anyone remember this costume guffaw? (Getty Images)

It's unlikely Perry tried to threaten national unity or even stage a protest. In fact, it was most likely just another example of Perry's accidental cultural appropriation (remember her geisha costume at the American Music Awards in 2013?) — which, as she told Rolling Stone in 2014, is her way of showing her appreciation for global cultures. "I guess I'll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that's it," she said to the magazine. "I know that's a quote that's gonna come to f--- me in the ass, but can't you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don't know."

Makes you really long for Left Shark, doesn't it?