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TOPIC: Avril Lavigne's New "Hello Kitty" Music Video

Avril Lavigne's New "Hello Kitty" Music Video 25 Apr 2014 03:04 #4735

  • artemis.th
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This week pop-punk-turned-pop-star Avril Lavigne debuted her music video for her new single, "Hello Kitty." The video has received much criticism not only for being racist against Asian culture, but for being sexist as well. The video basically shows Avril adventuring around Tokyo, speaking very Anglicized Japanese, and being followed around by a troop of Asian women who are throughout the video blank-faced (unless cued by Avril to giggle or dance).

Much of the criticism references Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls, in which she, too, was accused of using these women as props. I will not argue saying that there was the presence of cultural appropriation that defined this concept, however, at least Stefani interacted with these women. That is not to say that Stefani should not have, but Avril basically just uses the women in her video as a backdrop, or as some articles are claiming, "props."

The issue at hand, I believe, is that Avril was apparently attempting a tribute to Japan, the country which currently holds her largest fan base. As Entertainment Weekly called it, it is "anti-culture, constructed to purposefully reflect every possible cultural background in a manner that doesn’t really speak to anything particular." She takes stereotypical aspects of that culture (bright neon colors, sushi, candy, giggling women, basically anything that is cute) and ascribes it to Japanese people, including the expressionless back-up dancers. She is taking the parts of Tokyo that we see on American commercials and passes them off as true.

I highly doubt, however, that girls in Japan walk around not saying a word eating candy and sushi all day. They are not a "cute trend" as one Twitter account puts it. Yet the Japanese women in Avril's video are used to represent the culture, without actually shaping the representation the video makes outside of what Avril wants them to be.
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