According to the Jan/Feb 2006 edition of Blender magazine, stand-up comic Margaret Cho has labeled the Harajuku Girls as a "minstrel show" that reinforces ethnic stereotypes of Asian women. The Harajuku Girls have since continued to appear alongside Stefani within the media, and are featured in the music video for "Wind It Up" (2006).
It's been a while since I've updated this blog, and I guess I secretly hoped that maybe Gwen would tire of this whole harajuku thing and the G4 would have faded away into history as a weird cultural footnote.Silly me — it would seem that this debate is alive as ever (thanks for staying vigilant, angryasianman):
"Harajuku Girls," Margaret Cho's blog
"Margaret Cho's not laughing about Gwen's Harajuku Girls," Popwatch blog, Entertainment Weekly
Is Stefani adapting Japanese culture to fit into North American popular culture, or is she exploiting these girls for her own commercial gain? Is she showcasing this Japanese sub-culture or reinforcing ethnic stereotypes?