Sketchy things about Katy Perry that everyone just ignores

Katy Perry has tried to market herself as some sort of civic and socially minded activist, but the "Chained to the Rhythm" singer has a lot of skeletons in her closet, and for some reason, not many people seem to mind or realize it. From allegations of homophobia and anti-Semitism to accusations of mean-girl tendencies, here are just a few sketchy aspects about the pop star's character and career that seem to get swept under the rug.

She mocked mental illness

At the 2017 Grammys, Perry slammed Britney Spears not once, but twice for her infamous 2007 head-shaving meltdown. In an interview about her new blond hair, Perry told a reporter (via The Sun), "It's the last color in the spectrum that I can do. I've done all of them and the only thing left to do is shave my head, which I'm really saving for a public breakdown. I'm down for that." In another interview, this time with Ryan Seacrest, he asked about the singer taking a "pause in her music," to which she replied, "Yeah, that's called taking care of your mental health…[It's] fantastic, and I haven't shaved my head yet." Considering she and Spears are pop peers, as well as one-time collaborators, Perry's words were pretty foul—as well as just a really dated attempt at a joke.

She may have started the feud with Taylor Swift

Though Taylor Swift reportedly instigated her infamous "Bad Blood" drama with Perry during a 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Swift made it sound like Perry's pettiness prompted the bitterness. Swift said her foe "tried to sabotage an entire arena tour" and claimed the subject of her ire was a bit of a mean girl. "For years, I was never sure if we were friends or not," Swift said. "She would come up to me at awards shows and say something and walk away, and I would think, 'Are we friends, or did she just give me the harshest insult of my life?'" After that Rolling Stone interview hit the presses, Perry made an actual Mean Girls (2004) reference that was rumored to be about Swift, tweeting, "Beware of the Regina George in sheep's clothing."

A source told Page Six the feud began over musician John Mayer, who briefly dated Swift in 2010 and eventually moved on to Perry in 2012, noting, "Perry started making digs at Taylor from then on."

Perry also did little to quell the heat when she kept mum after then-boyfriend Diplo attacked Swift's appearance and Swift's fans on Twitter. Perry also made a video of herself at a Kanye West concert during his hotly contested line about Swift in "Famous."

Her dating life is a disaster

From 2005 to 2006, Perry dated actor Johnny Lewis, who police suspected in September 2012 of murdering an elderly neighbor before falling off a roof to his own death. She dated Gym Class Heroes star Travie McCoy from 2007 to 2009, but then reportedly dumped him over email and allegedly dissed his drug problem in her song "Circle the Drain." She married Russell Brand, who was an admitted sex addict, then appeared shocked when it didn't work out (rumor has it Brand cheated).

Perry dated John Mayer off and on for years and often milked speculation about their status by wearing rings on that finger, including a heart-shaped ruby on Valentine's Day 2013. Mayer, who seems to have learned his lesson after years of backlash for his romantic exploits, has evolved into a seemingly more private guy. He and Perry split about a month after the ruby rumors, only to reunite a handful of additional times. During an off-period, Perry told Vogue that messy relationships and men are kind of her thing, noting, "I do have to figure out why I'm attracted to these broken birds," she said. Maybe it's because like attracts like.

She's been accused of racism towards Asian people

In June 2012, Perry told late night host Jimmy Kimmel that she's "obsessed with Japanese people" and wanted to "skin [them] and wear [them] like Versace." Uh, creepy much? Perry later came under fire in November 2013 for her performance of "Unconditionally" at the American Music Awards, in which she was accused of appropriating Asian (especially Japanese) culture and fetishizing geishas.

The Japanese American Citizens League denounced the performance, saying in a statement, "The thoughtless costuming and dance routines by Katy Perry played carelessly with stereotypes in an attempt to create a Japanese aesthetic. The JACL believes it is important for all who are involved in entertainment production to understand that while audience approval is important, caution must also be the byword to avoid denigrating and marginalizing a portion of that viewership." Even Psychology Today addressed why the performance was deemed racist, noting that Asian Americans often "feel used as props to glorify White artists." Perry also caught some collective side-eye for singing, "getting our nails did all Japanese-y" in her track "This Is How We Do."

The singer's reaction to the criticism wasn't apologetic, contrite, or even surprised. Instead, she dismissed the criticism to Rolling Stone, saying, "I guess I'll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that's it. I know that's a quote that's gonna come to f**k me in the a**, but can't you appreciate a culture? I guess, like, everybody has to stay in their lane? I don't know."

She's been accused of racism toward African Americans

In "This Is How We Do," Perry is also accused of using a "blaccent" in the bridge of the track and of appropriating African-American culture in some of her lyrics, in the styling of the music video, and in the name of the song (Montell Jordan released a song with the same title in 1995.)

Actress Amandla Stenberg responded to the video in a YouTube segment, saying, "Pop stars and icons adopted black culture as a way of being edgy and gaining attention…Katy Perry uses Ebonics and hand gestures and eats watermelons while wearing cornrows before cutting inexplicably to a picture of Aretha Franklin. So as you can see, cultural appropriation was rampant."

That wasn't the only time she was called out for allegedly mocking or borrowing black culture. In June 2014, Rolling Out pointed out that Perry's backup dancers were dressed like mummies and had large breasts, buttocks, and lips, as well as black wigs, which many interpreted to be a stereotype of African-American women.

At the time of this writing, Perry hasn't commented on the accusations.

She was accused of anti-Semitism

Perry's 2014 video for "Birthday" featured a Jewish stereotype that many deemed anti-Semitic. In the footage, Perry portrays a series of characters, one of which is Yosef Shulem, a wedding DJ who says, "I do bar mitzvahs. I do weddings. I don't do funerals…but for a price I'll do your funeral." He then, in a strong accent, makes a joke about a rabbi performing free circumcisions. The character wears a yarmulke and a cheap suit, and Perry portrays him with facial prosthetics and a fat suit. It's the only character in the video with an ethnic basis. The rest of her personas include an aging stripper, a clown, a princess, and an animal tamer. That's bad enough on its own, but even worse when you remember that Perry's parents had to publicly apologize in early 2012 for bashing Jews in a bizarre anti-Semitic sermon.

Perry has yet to comment on or apologize for the video's portrayal of Jewish stereotypes, though she was generous enough to tell Rolling Stone in 2010 that "Jewish people are fine."

She may be homophobic

Though Perry often aligns herself as an LGBTQ ally, such as with her video for "Firework," she has a controversial past checkered with lyrics and remarks that can be interpreted as homophobic. She attracted criticism for allegedly exploiting lesbianism and bisexuality with her breakout hit, "I Kissed a Girl," but the bigger controversy involves a song that many casual listeners haven't even heard on the radio. In "Ur So Gay," she describes an ex-boyfriend who she believes apparently "acts" gay despite being straight, telling him, "I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf while jacking off listening to Mozart." She even once dedicated it live to an unrequited high school crush, effectively using homosexuality as an insult. To this day, she has not responded to the concerns surrounding that track.

She's been accused of copying other artists' music

When "Roar" first hit airwaves in August 2013, listeners noticed that it sounded a whole lot like "Brave" by Sara Bareilles, which debuted four months earlier. While coincidences happen, fans noted that Perry tweeted her love for "Brave" shortly after Bareilles' single dropped. Producer Butch Walker also called Perry out for allegedly pilfering the track, tweeting, "The new KP song: Chorus is ‪@SaraBareilles, verse jumped on the 'Hey' train, and the teaser vid rips off Fall Out Boy. 3 counts of murder." He added, "@sarabareilles At least if you ripped someone off ever, you wouldn't have to blame some 'track guy' for it."

For her part, Bareilles was diplomatic about everything, telling The Hollywood Reporter, "I don't feel like anything was taken from me artistically. I wasn't the one having any problems with it. I've known Katy a long time. We are friends and she and I spoke about it." Bareilles added, "I look at it as two female artists who are releasing a message of empowerment…We actually talked about it. We're like, 'Should we just work on a mash-up and let everybody know we're not mad at each other?'" Bareilles did tell CBS News: "I can't say that I think that they don't sound similar," but noted that the attention actually helped promote her song. "So, thank you, Katy Perry, for that."

While "Roar" may be the clearest example of Perry's alleged unoriginality, she has faced similar accusations for other tracks: "California Gurls" sounds a lot like Kesha's "Tik Tok." It's worth noting that the similarities between the aforementioned songs may have a lot more to do with the associated music producers, namely Dr. Luke and Max Martin, than with Perry herself.

Alternative rocker Jill Sobule also let loose on Perry, accusing her of jacking the concept and title of "I Kissed A Girl" from Sobule's 1995 release and calling the pop star a "title thieving…f**king little slut" (via Rolling Stone.) In Perry's defense, the magazine noted that song titles can not be copyrighted. Plus, Perry was only 11 years old when Sobule's song debuted.

Is she a fashion chameleon?

While no one owns the rights to a particular fashion style, that hasn't stopped fellow celebs from accusing Perry of stealing styles from other artists. Critics say Perry's "This Is How We Do" video borrows looks from Brooke Candy and FKA Twigs and that her "Chained to the Rhythm" single art mimics Lady Gaga and Zara Larsson. Some say Perry's entire aesthetic rips off a cartoon character named Katy Keene. Whether or not any of this is deliberate, it sure is uncanny.

Her live performances are questionable

Perry fell prey to a lip-syncing debacle (or backing track issue, depending on how you spin it) at the NRJ Music Awards in France in December 2013. The vocals started without her, prompting her to awkwardly exit the stage and re-start her performance. A spokesperson for NRJ told the Daily Mail, "Katy Perry was singing live at the NRJ Awards Saturday night in Cannes, but regrettably the wrong mix has been played accidentally which over-rode Katy's live vocal feed on-air at the beginning of her performance of 'Roar.' TF1 & NRJ would like to apologize to NRJ double award winner Katy Perry for this technical problem beyond our control." It wasn't the first time she was busted potentially faking it onstage. In 2011, she was caught faux-playing the recorder while sitting down and not moving, so you can't even blame that on breath control.

She may not write as much of her music as she claims

Perry sells herself as a singer-songwriter. While she does indeed have writing credits on most of her tracks (as well as some for other artists), Meghan Trainor called Perry out back in 2013 for allegedly not contributing as much to her songs as she prided herself on. When asked about the pop songwriting process and Perry's role in it, Trainor replied, "No, Katy Perry will help, but not really, because artists nowadays are trying to take my job and they're trying to write with the big songwriters so now they get credit for writing. You know, like Kelly Clarkson. She doesn't want to hear any of our songs because she wants to write them herself and I respect that."

Trainor may have a point: In March 2017, frequent Perry collaborator Bonnie McKee revealed on the And The Writer Is… podcast that Perry's massive hit "Teenage Dream" was totally rewritten about five times — and that McKee came up with the infamous hook only after Perry decided it was a better fit than her own line, "You make me feel like I'm born again / All brand new / Come on, Peter Pan."

She may have lied about her upbringing ...

Perry told Vanity Fair in 2011, "I didn't have a childhood." She claimed her mom wouldn't let her listen to secular music or watch TV, or even say phrases like "deviled eggs" or "Dirt Devil," adding, "Growing up, seeing Planned Parenthood, it was considered like the abortion clinic. I was always scared I was going to get bombed when I was there … I think sometimes when children grow up, their parents grow up. Mine grew up with me. We coexist. I don't try to change them anymore, and I don't think they try to change me. We agree to disagree. They're excited about [my success]. They're happy that things are going well for their three children and that they're not on drugs. Or in prison."

However, Star magazine (via Celebitchy) reported later that year that Perry's mother denied all of her claims, telling parishioners at her evangelical church that the singer had a normal upbringing and that she and Perry's father were both extremely proud of the singer.

... and about Mick Jagger

In October 2013, Perry told an Australian radio show (via the New York Daily News) that Mick Jagger hit on her when she was a teenager.

"I actually went to dinner with him one time, and he hit on me one time when I was like 18 or 19," she said, quickly adding, "But that was a long time ago, and since then he's been very kind — I got to sing 'Beast of Burden' on stage with the Rolling Stones … [My advice to get ahead in the music industry is] you bring a friend and then they do him. You sacrifice your friend."

Jagger "categorically denied" any such incident took place, noting, "Maybe she confused me for someone else."

She didn't stand up for Kesha

Perry came up in the industry with Kesha under Dr. Luke's production and songwriting umbrella (he's credited on a lot of her tracks, including "Teenage Dream," "The One That Got Away," "Part Of Me," "Dark Horse," "Birthday," "I Kissed A Girl," and "Hot n' Cold"). In her May 2017 Vogue interview, Perry said she'd never tolerate toxic men professionally and gushed about how women need to use their voices now more than ever for good.

"I wouldn't really stand for [toxic men] in my work life, because I have had so much of that in my personal life," she said, later adding, "I was really disheartened for a while [after the 2016 election] … Misogyny and sexism were in my childhood: I have an issue with suppressive males and not being seen as equal … I don't think you have to shout it from the rooftops but I think you have to stand for something, and if you're not standing for anything, you're really just serving yourself, period, end of story …. If you have a voice you have a responsibility to use it now, more than ever."

That's great, right? But then where was she when other stars, including Adele, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson (who was also a prior Dr. Luke collaborator), and a slew of others called out Dr. Luke and supported the #freekesha campaign? (Perhaps she kept quiet knowing she'd eventually get dragged into the legal drama herself, but that didn't stop Lady Gaga.)

She'll throw her causes under the bus for a hit

"Chained To The Rhythm" wasn't exactly a hit for Katy Perry. While it peaked at No. 4 in its debut week, it slid downward ever since, making it her worst-performing lead single ever. That may be why she turned to rap group Migos for a feature on her second single, "Bon Appetit."

Unfortunately, the collaboration has ignited controversy among members of the LGBTQ community. Many fans questioned the choice, seeing as Migos member Quavo slammed rapper Makonnen for coming out of the closet and said, "The world is not right." Even more award: a few weeks before its release, Perry was honored with the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign

Neither Perry nor her team have yet commented on the controversy.

She's been accused of being racially insensitive

In a bizarre livestream video with fans on April 28, 2017, Perry read fan comments and responded to some. While that would normally be a pretty pleasant exchange, she made a bizarre and arguably racist remark at a seemingly innocent question.

"Oh, someone says, 'I miss your old black hair,'" she read, replying, "Oh, really? Do you miss Barack Obama as well? Oh, OK. Times change, bye. See you guys later."

He response didn't sit well with many, with one Twitter user writing, "Not Katy Perry pretending to be a woke activist then making an insensitive joke comparing her hair to Obama." Another noted, "I think she shouldn't have mentioned Obama because it makes it seem like she linking BLACK hair to Barack cuz he black," and one snapped, "Dear #BlackTwitter EXHIBIT A. @katyperry – f**k does your stringy ass black dry a** hair have to do with @BarackObama asking for a culture?" Many simply announced that Perry is "cancelled."

She keeps reigniting her feud with Taylor Swift

On May 8, 2017, Perry told Entertainment Weekly that she didn't know for sure if Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" was about her.

"Well that's not my question to answer — if it's about me," she snapped. "I think [my new album is] a very empowered record. There is no one thing that's calling out any one person." She added, "One thing to note is: You can't mistake kindness for weakness and don't come for me. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. Anyone. And that's not to any one person and don't quote me that it is, because it's not. It's not about that. Honestly, when women come together and they decide to unite, this world is going to be a better place. Period end of story."

Except it wasn't the "end of story." She continued, "But, let me say this: Everything has a reaction or a consequence so don't forget about that, okay, honey? We got to keep it real, honey."

That's all fair and good. But on May 9, 2017, Swift's ex Calvin Harris announced that he's dropping a new album in June 2017 … and that Perry is featured on one of the tracks. If you'll recall, in July 2016, shortly after he and Swift split, Harris slammed the "I Knew You Were Trouble" singer on Twitter (via The Mirror), writing, "I know you're off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it." If you think this collaboration is a coincidence, we have some magic beans we'd like to sell you.

She was accused of ripping off a music video

Perry's music video for "Bon Appetit" dropped on May 12, 2017. The somewhat NSFW clip opens with Perry in a clear, shrink-wrapped package. Music video director Titanic Sinclair claims that Perry stole the concept from a music video he did previously for Knox Hamilton, "Washed Up Together," which she praised on Twitter, even screencapping her complimenting his work. He wrote, "Here is an old screenshot of @katyperry praising a video I directed and then her blatantly ripping it off in her new video."

Perry didn't comment on the allegation, but some fans pointed out that she also featured plastic-wrapped girls in her "California Gurls" video back in 2010, so the case for Sinclair is, at best, not a tight one.

She released the least subtle diss track ever, then tried to deny it

Perry dropped her third single from Witness, "Swish Swish," on May 18, 2017, and many interpreted the song to be a diss track aimed at Taylor Swift in response to "Bad Blood" — which Swift herself all but admitted was a diss track aimed at Perry.

When Jimmy Fallon asked Perry if the song was about "someone we know," she paused before replying, "I think it's a great anthem to use whenever someone is trying to hold you down or bully you … 'Swish Swish' represents liberation from all the negative that doesn't serve you."

Still, the message wasn't lost on those close to Swift. Joseph Kahn, who directed multiple Swift videos, as well as Perry's "Waking Up In Vegas," tweeted, "If you're gonna do a diss track, at least put a decent hook in it."

Swift squad member Ruby Rose also chimed in with her own insults to Perry.

"'Purposeful poop' to 'bomb a petit' to a sloppy mess of writing over the top of Funkagenda..stop trying to make 'Wit..I mean 'fetch' happen," she wrote, adding, "I just think with everything going on in the world to go from rebranding as political activist only to ditch it and go low.. is.. a bummer."

… Then came clean

During Carpool Karaoke on May 21, 2017, Perry discussed her feud with Swift with Late Late Show host James Corden, saying, (via People), "There's a situation. Honestly, it's really like she started it, and it's time for her to finish it. It's about backing dancers, there were three backing dancers … I tried to talk to her about it and she wouldn't speak to me."

Perry added, "I do the right thing any time that it feels like a fumble. It was a full shutdown and then she writes a song about me, and I'm like, 'OK, cool, cool, cool, that's how you want to deal with it? Karma!' But what I want to say is that I'm ready for that BS to be done."

However, instead of leaving it be, Perry continued, "Now, there is the law of cause and effect. You do something, there's going to be a reaction, and trust me, daddy, there's going to be a reaction. It's all about karma, right? I think personally that women together, not divided, and none of this petty bulls**t, women together will heal the world."

She was allegedly rude as an American Idol guest judge

Now that Perry has been confirmed as a highly paid judge on the reboot of American Idol, some of her antics as a guest judge on the original series have re-emerged … and it ain't all pretty. She was particularly nasty to judge Kara DioGuardi in 2010, at one point even threatening to throw her Coke in the songwriter's face.

For what it's worth: Perry denied the feud, chalking it up to "clever editing."

She apologized for cultural appropriation when she had an album to sell

Perry previously blew off her critics who accused her of cultural appropriation, but when her album Witness hit shelves on June 9, 2017, she grew quite contrite, but still managed to eke out excuses for her behavior.

When Black Lives Matter leader DeRay McKesson asked Perry about her "This Is How We Do" video, in which she appropriates black culture, Perry explained, "In my intent to admire and appreciate a culture I actually did appropriate and I made a mistake. I'm juggling 7,000 balls. [A friend] told me about the power in black women's hair and how beautiful it is and the struggle. I listened and I heard and I didn't know. I won't ever understand some of those things because of who I am. I will never understand, but I can educate myself and that's what I'm trying to do along the way."

Speaking of her botched geisha performance at the 2013 American Music Awards, Perry lamented, "I didn't know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying that I did it wrong. It takes someone to say, out of compassion, out of love, 'Hey, this is what the origin is.'" She added, "It's hard to hear those clapbacks sometimes and your ego just wants to turn from them and I've had great teachers who hold me accountable like when I said I wasn't a feminist. My friend Shannon pulled me aside and said, 'Sweetie, here's the Webster definition of feminism and it's just equality.'"

She apologized to Taylor Swift when it affected her bottom line

After dropping "Swish Swish" and speaking out about her feud with Taylor Swift, Swift proved there really is nothing she's better at than revenge: she discounted her entire discography and added all of her albums to streaming services at midnight on June 9, 2017 — the same day Witness was released. Cold-blooded? Sure, but also effective.

A perhaps nervous Perry told Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global podcast shortly after the move, "I am ready to let [the feud] go. I forgive her and I'm sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her. I think it's actually like, I think it's time. There are bigger fish to fry, and there are real problems in the world. You know what I'm saying? I love her, and I want the best for her, and I think she's a fantastic songwriter, and I think that if we, both her and I, can be representatives of strong women that come together despite their differences, I think the whole world is going to go like, 'Yeah, well we can do this.'"

She added, "Maybe I don't agree with everything she does and she doesn't agree with everything I do, but I just really, truly want to come together in a place of love and forgiveness and understanding and compassion … There's a lot of other things out there in the world that people need to be focused on. God bless her on her journey. God bless her. Honestly."

She put her exes bedroom skills on blast

During Perry's Witness Worldwide livestream, James Corden asked the singer to rank her three most recent lovers from best to worst. A faux-distressed Perry placed John Mayer at No. 1, Orlando Bloom at No. 2, and Diplo at No. 3, but noted that they were all "amazing." Perry also noted during the livestream that Josh Groban, to whom she was briefly linked in 2009, was "the one who got away."