John Mayer defends new video over ‘cultural appropriation’ backlash

'Still Feel Like Your Man' clip has been criticised for use of Asian stereotypes

John Mayer has defended his new music video for ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’ against criticism and allegations of cultural appropriation.

The clip was released last week (April 5), featuring geishas, samurai and dancing pandas. It has been described by the singer himself as “disco dojo”.

Mayer’s video has been met by a backlash online over its use of Asian stereotypes, with one article asking ‘On a Scale of Problematic to Racist, How Bad Is John Mayer’s New Music Video?’.


Responding in interview with USA Today, Mayer said: “I wasn’t anticipating any backlash. If I were anticipating backlash, I wouldn’t have made the video. Controversy does not inspire me. I wish I could say it did, but controversy does not inspire me. I would never have made something anticipating backlash, I would’ve changed it so I didn’t anticipate backlash.”

He continued: “We anticipate that somebody’s going to have something to say about it, but that does not preclude you from creating something. You should not be an artist if your fear is that somebody, somewhere, if you Twitter-search it, is going to use the phrase. Anybody can use any phrase they want, but it’s not a good enough reason (to not make something). Otherwise, any idea would just be me walking up and down the beach kicking a can.”

“I see there being a vain attempt to create one, but I see people excited about the fact that I’ve returned to what I consider a fun-loving take on things,” Mayer added. “It took me a really long time to return to having a good time. I’ve always had a humorous side… There’s a really well-functioning mechanism in my brain where the sincerity and the depth and that profoundness of how I’m feeling and what I’m writing has to be offset by me personally with levity.”

“I wasn’t about to make a music video for a pop song unless I was having a blast. Like, what other video is there for ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’?… Also, I think it’s hilarious that I’m almost 40 and I’m like, ‘I don’t know, what do the kids do?’ Like, ‘Oh OK, I can make any video I want? Let’s make it a fantasy.’ ”

Previously, in an interview with the New York Times, Mayer said: “Part of cultural appropriation is blindness. I’m on the right side of the line because it’s an idea for the video that has a very multiethnic casting, and nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person.”