The hype is building around Doja Cat’s new album, Scarlet, set to be released on Friday. However, not all the talk is positive.
The “Kiss Me More” singer and rapper now faces backlash after sharing the meaning behind one of the tracks on the new album — “Balut” — in a way that some found to be disrespectful to the Filipino community.
Balut is a popular Filipino delicacy. It’s made from a fertilized duck egg incubated for about 18 days and then boiled. It’s commonly served as street food in the Philippines. The dish’s history traces back to China as a way to extend the shelf life of eggs before refrigerators were invented, according to an essay in the Journal of Ethnic Foods.
“I named the song balut because it signifies a bird that’s being eaten alive,” the artist explained in the Instagram Story. “It’s a metaphor for twitter stans and the death of twitter toxicity. The beginning of ‘X’ and the end of ‘tweets’.”
Doja Cat explains the meaning behind her new song ‘Balut’:
“i named the song balut because it signifies a bird that's being eaten alive. It's a metaphor for twitter stans and the death of twitter toxicity. The beginning of ‘X’ and the end of ‘tweets’.” pic.twitter.com/MPJELOnYi9
— Pop Base (@PopBase) September 16, 2023
Many Filipino social media users quickly corrected the singer’s description — noting that balut is not, in fact, a live bird but a fertilized egg.
am i reading things right? Did Doja Cat really named a song "balut" bc it signifies "a bird that's being eaten alive"? 😭
Look man, i get inspiration from other cultures but she's just being ignorant with this one. Balut is cooked yo… we don't eat live chicks here yo…
— 🌸🦌Soraille🎆⛓️🔆🍤🌟🌸 (@1soraille2) September 18, 2023
Others say the issue goes far beyond just a simple misunderstanding, claiming that Doja Cat’s mischaracterization of balut just further stigmatizes Filipino culture.
According to the essay on balut in the Journal of Ethnic Foods, the U.S., in particular, has arguably changed the reputation of the dish. Many Westerners think of it as one of the “most disgusting” foods in the world. It’s also been featured multiple times as part of an “extreme food challenge” on TV shows like Fear Factor and Survivor.
While Doja Cat doesn’t explicitly call balut “disgusting,” her mischaracterization of the dish, in addition to her significant following, has braced some Filipino social media users for xenophobic takes.
“since apparently the doja cat song is spotlighting balut, there will be a perception of filipino cuisine to be as extreme as balut, whereas its just mostly normal,” @jhlofficixl wrote. Balut is often regarded as an “extreme food” by Westerners; in the Philippines. However, it’s allegedly as commonplace as hot dogs in the U.S. “This singlesided perception of filo cuisine (esp when most people dont know what adobo is) will be reaaal dodgy.”
part of the colonial perception of the philippines is our "exotic" qualities, including cuisine—coinciding with the perception of filipinos being animalistic barbarians who eat tree worms, dogs, unborn embryos. peoples discovery of balut+its shock value will propagate this a Lot
— jhl (@jhlofficixl) September 18, 2023
Before Doja Cat talked about balut, a video of someone supposedly eating the cuisine had already circulated X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. One user captioned the clip with, “If I had to see it so do you; Sorry.”
“people being xenophobic at the quotes,” tweeted @mtsky. “like ALMOST ALL of you mfs eat chicken nuggets that uses chicken scraps and you draw the line for this??? like i get if you don’t wanna eat it just be respectful in our culture.”
Despite the backlash from fans, Doja Cat said in a recent Instagram Live that she had tried balut for the first time and loved it.
“Balut was good. It reminded me of liver in a way,” she told fans during the Live.
— Buzzing Pop (@BuzzingPop) September 18, 2023
While Doja Cat did describe the cuisine correctly as “a fertilized duck egg” during the Live, she didn’t correct her previous statements about the balut being a live bird.
As a result, the singer frustrated fans by spotlighting the cuisine with the wrong definition — and without reckoning with the xenophobia that stems from recklessly discussing other cultures’ food.
this is why i didn't want doja cat using balut as the title of one of her songs cuz i KNEW tweets like these from people calling our food gross would show up https://t.co/mGrdceXcLY
— lexi🖖#chortegasSWEEP (@ltnooniensingh) September 16, 2023
doja cat naming her song balut has the same energy of a nepo baby owned business that uses filipino words as a brand name
— celine | ofmd posting ✨ (@_starfactory) September 17, 2023
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