Rapper Doja Cat faces backlash for naming her new song after a Filipino dish as she released her latest single, “Balut,” and offered an inaccurate explanation for the title. The controversy arose when she claimed that the title “signifies a bird that’s being eaten alive,” which is said to be far from the truth. It is then explained that “Balut” refers to a cooked fertilized duck egg, a cherished delicacy in the Philippines.
The issue escalated when Doja Cat took to Instagram to provide further context for her song’s title. She stated, “It’s a metaphor for Twitter stans [obsessive fans] and the death of Twitter toxicity. The beginning of ‘X’ and the end of ‘tweets.'” However, her explanation failed to align with the reality of the dish, leading to widespread backlash.
The misrepresentation of “Balut” didn’t sit well with the Filipino community, and social media platforms became a battleground for criticism. Many users branded Doja Cat’s description as “ignorant” and expressed concerns that such misrepresentations could reinforce culturally insensitive stereotypes about Filipino cuisine.
Tony DelaRosa, a Filipino-American race scholar and author of “Teaching the Invisible Race,” weighed in on the controversy, emphasising the importance of conveying the true significance of “Balut.”
DelaRosa said, “Filipinos see it as a delicacy. Why is that not being conveyed in that way? We should uphold it.”
He noted that this incident is particularly sensitive due to historical stereotypes that have depicted Asian food and culture as unusual or barbaric — “Balut” has sometimes been portrayed in Western media as a sensational or daredevil food, further contributing to misunderstandings about Filipino cuisine.
DelaRosa also referred to the discomfort many young Asians face in their school lunchrooms when peers mock their cultural foods. He stated, “Our food is not accessible to the public.”
Despite Doja Cat’s later comments about the dish being “good,” her initial inaccurate description could potentially reinforce negative associations with Filipino culture, particularly considering her substantial reach and fan base.
DelaRosa shared concerns about the negative comments and perceptions that have already surfaced online. He questioned the extent to which Doja Cat would moderate and address offensive and derogatory conversations about Filipino culture.
He said, “What does accountability mean when there are going to be offensive, negative conversations and negative associations with my culture now because you misrepresented my culture through the name?”
DelaRosa emphasised the need to normalize “Balut,” highlighting its dual role: “as both a casual after-school snack and a celebratory delicacy at gatherings and important events where people raise their shells in a toast.”