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John Mayer Leans Into Predictable Controversy

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: John Mayer speaks onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

John Mayer is the subject of a long, thoughtful profile in The New York Times, which details how the soft rock superstar’s life has changed since a notorious 2010 Playboy interview where he talked at length about sleeping with Jessica Simpson and said he had “a David Duke cock,” amongst many other things. Mayer knows he fucked up, and claims he was trying to push back against being a “clichéd rock star.” He’s more thoughtful now, he says, which is what makes another part of the article so amusing—a section where Mayer seems to realize, in real time, that he’s about to step into a obvious controversy about his new music video.

One of Mayer’s comeback singles from his upcoming album is “Still Feel Like Your Man,” about his ended relationship with Katy Perry. For the video, the Times writes, “Mr. Mayer wanted to think big, giving the track the best chance to succeed as a single.” Mayer thought the song reminded him of “ancient Japanese R&B” (not a thing), and suddenly, the article takes us to the set for the video, which is equipped with a fake bamboo forest, a woman dressed as a geisha, and two people in panda suits. (Perhaps it was inspired by Katy, who once dressed up as a geisha.) The set is described by Mayer as a “disco dojo.”

You see where this is going. “I think we were as sensitive as we could possibly be,” Mayer said in the interview, regarding a video where he dances with giant pandas and does something with a geisha. “It was discussed at every juncture.”

He continued: “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.”

He went on: “Do I think that someone is going to tweet that this is cultural appropriation? Yes… It’s going to be interesting to see.”

John, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.