'Asian culture is not a costume': Viewers slam Saara Aalto's Geisha-themed performance for 'cultural appropriation' as X Factor becomes embroiled in a new race row
X Factor viewers have accused Finnish singer Saara Aalto of cultural appropriation after she dressed as a Geisha on Saturday night's live show.
Fans of the ITV1 talent show flocked to Twitter to comment on the performance, which saw Sharon Osbourne's hopeful burst onto the stage in a brightly-coloured Japanese silk robe and oversized raven wig.
Belting out Sound Of The Underground by Girls Aloud for the weekend's 'girlband vs boyband' theme, Saara put on a vibrant display as she straddled a giant glitter cannon.
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'Asian culture is not a costume': X Factor viewers have accused Finnish singer Saara Aalto of cultural appropriation after she dressed as a Geisha on Saturday night's live show
But it didn't go down too well with fans of the show, with viewers scrutinising Saara, ITV, show bosses and its creative director Brian Friedman.
One viewer posted: 'Ugh I love @saaraaalto but who did the staging? It’s cultural appropriation @brianfriedman? #XFactor Asian culture is not a costume.'
A second tweeter wrote: 'This is #racist. Shame on you #XFactor2016 and #Saara! Public apology is least you can do. #blackface #racism #yellowface #saaraaalto.'
Someone else referenced an ITV talent show of yesteryear in their tweet about the matter: 'Was #saaraaalto on some kind of slightly racist version of #StarsInTheirEyes tonight rather than the #XFactor? @TheXFactor #tonightmatthew.'
'Hey @TheXFactor whose idea was it to put Saara Aalto in what is essentially yellow face and racist costume? #xfactor SMH do better,' came a fourth angry tweeter.
Cultural appropriation? Fans of the ITV1 talent show flocked to Twitter to comment on the performance, which saw the hopeful burst onto the stage in a Japanese silk robe
Quirky: Belting out Sound Of The Underground by Girls Aloud for the weekend's 'girlband vs boyband' theme, Saara put on a vibrant display as she straddled a giant glitter cannon
Accusations: Viewers took to Twitter to slam the Japanese-themed performance, which Saara was quick to defend
Another viewer accused the show of multiple hate crimes: 'I actually hate this show first being homophobic and now racist and can we just talk about #saaraaalto... cultural appropriation.'
One fan remarked that they felt the staging took the focus from Saara's vocal talent: 'Just switched on @TheXFactor - this is bordering on #racist & definitely in bad taste; it's a shame because @saaraaalto has a great voice.'
Similarly, a tweeter elsewhere typed: 'What the hell did they give @saaraalto for staging? Amazing voice but being made into another joke act - shame on #XFactor!'
But Saara - who landed in the bottom two on Sunday night's results show alongside girlband Four Of Diamonds - publicly defended the performance to her followers.
Spectacle: Saara explained to her Twitter followers that her own holiday to Japan had been the inspiration behind her latest performance, and that she 'loves everything Japanese'
Saara explained to her Twitter fans that her own holiday to Japan had been the inspiration behind her latest performance, and that she 'loves everything Japanese'.
Alongside a photo of her playing a Japanese drum whilst visiting the country, Saara tweeted: 'In Japan exactly 4 years ago. Learning to play taiko drums here. I've always loved Japan and studied Japanese for years. That's why yesterday.'
In order to drive her point home, she also uploaded a video of her speaking in Japanese: 'I enjoyed my performance so much and I loved the Japanese theme because I love everything Japanese.
'I really loved the performance and this hair, it’s huge and thank you. Thank you so much for believing in me.'
Unimpressed: Viewers scrutinised Saara, ITV, show bosses and its creative director Brian Friedman after the episode aired
Channeling the culture: Saara posted a throwback photo online of her holiday in Japan
Saara's X Factor journey nearly came to an end on Sunday as she was voted into the bottom two and faced Four Of Diamonds in the sing off.
But mentor Sharon, along with judges Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger opted to save her from elimination and send Louis Walsh's girlband home instead.
Four Of Diamonds have since defended the act they lost to, branding Saara's performance 'incredible'.
They told Digital Spy: 'She really immersed herself in it, and was paying tribute to the country. She's found her niche with the big productions. That is where she is flourishing and we think she's amazing.'
Over-produced? The singer said of her performance - 'I've waited my whole life to do something like that and yes, maybe I should strip it down'
Self defense: Saara appeared on Good Morning Britain herself on Monday morning to defend her performance
Saara appeared on Good Morning Britain herself on Monday morning and told the show's hosts Kate Garaway and Ben Shepard: 'We had a party in Tokyo in that song.
'I've waited my whole life to do something like that and yes, maybe I should strip it down.'
Her mentor Sharon has also admitted that the performance was 'over-produced', but choreographer Brian Friedman slammed those criticising the routine.
Alongside a picture montage of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Madonna wearing Japanese-inspired costumes during their own performances, he wrote on Instagram: 'Really shocked that people are questioning our cultural appropriateness for @saaraaalto performance on @thexfactor tonight.
Krossed wires: Honey G responded to accusations that she had rapped the N-word during her rendition of Kriss Kross’s 1992 hit Jump by saying she 'sang the correct lyrics'
Shocked: Choreographer Brian Friedman wasn't standing for the criticism of his Geisha routine
Muse: Brian went on to highlight Saara's talent, rather than focus on the theme of the routine
'I am obsessed with Japanese culture, have spent much of my life there and speak Japanese!
'If you took this wrong, your head was in the wrong place... only love! PS, were not the first to do it either!!!! @beyonce @badgalriri @ladygaga @katyperry @madonna #BFreeGlobal #LondonLife #CreativeDirector.'
This comes after controversial contestant Honey G responded to accusations that she had rapped the N-word.
The 35-year old won a standing ovation from the judging panel following a unique interpretation of hip hop anthem Jump, originally a 1992 hit for American duo Kris Kross.
Addressing the controversy later that night, Honey – whose critics have already accused her of cultural appropriation – insisted any suggestion of racism was wide of the mark.
She tweeted: 'To be clear I did not use any offensive language. I sang the correct lyrics and said "kicking the flavor that makes you wanna jump".
'Thanks to everyone for all your incredible support, don't forget to vote for Honey G, let's go all the way to the 'X Factor' final! (sic).'
The forthcoming Saturday show is unlikely to be toned down, as the X Factor jukebox selected the 'disco' theme for the contestants.
The X Factor continues on ITV this weekend.
Close call: Saara's X Factor journey nearly came to an end on Sunday as she was voted into the bottom two and faced Four Of Diamonds in the sing off
Bottom four: Girl group Four Of Diamonds have since defended the act they lost to, branding Saara's performance 'incredible'
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