It’s been a few days since Avril Lavigne launched her latest video. I didn’t really get a chance to watch it until the weekend but I did see plenty of opinions on it. Here are just a few:-
Entertainment Weekly suggested that there are, “serious questions about whether it’s offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious.” Many drew comparisons to the controversy over No Doubt singer, Gwen Stefani’s backup dancers, the Harajuku Girls, a quartet of Japanese women who accompanied her on tour and appeared in several videos, including “Hollaback Girl” and “Wind It Up”.
Billboard called the “train wreck” video “unseemly”, “an embarrassment in any language” and “gloriously ghastly”, saying that the presence of “four identical, creepily expressionless Asian women” standing behind Lavigne for much of the clip was offensive to Asian culture.
So, from opinions like these I expected to see Avril running around Tokyo yelling racist abuse at the residents of this great city. This is not what we got. What we got was Avril Lavigne in a skirt that some would call adorable, others odd, showing us that she is a massive Japanophile. About the song, she had this to say:-
“I have a song called [Hello Kitty], which I wrote about [Hello Kitty] because I’m obsessed, and it’s a really fun thing that I’ve never done before. It kind of has a kind of glitchy, electronic feel to it and it’s…the only one on the record that sounds like that. It’s really different and a lot of my friends I’ve played it for really like it. I’m having a lot of fun with that one.”
So by the logic of some of these media outlets, because Avril is a fan of Hello Kitty, it was racist for her to write a song about it, film the song in Tokyo, hire a Japanese director and choreographer and do this all through her Japanese label. Guys, if you really want to see racist maybe this will put things in perspective. At worst this video may be a little odd and at best it’s just someone who loves Japanese Culture and wanted to celebrate it.
The accusations of racism were not the only issues. Over sexualisation was also an issue. Once again, I think a little perspective is needed; lets look at four music videos – two Japanese and two American and lets just see if Hello Kitty is that bad.
In comparison her video seems very tasteful, so I don’t see how it can be called overtly sexual.
For the third and final criticism that for this single she tried an EDM sound. This was an artist who left their comfort zone and tried something different that didn’t work out like they had hoped. No one has ever done that before…oh wait, they have:-
And let’s not forget Kylie Minouge’s work with James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers:
It’s very easy for us to sit back and ridicule this song but it’s catchy and would work if you’re out in a club. Avril Lavigne said she had fun making the song and the song gives off a fun vibe. So what if it’s influenced by the in thing? Do we still want her to sing about skater boys and teenage problems, or do we want the artist to change and try new things that have piqued her interest? I have passed the video around the NG team and our fans should know we are an ethnically diverse lot. Not one of us has said the video was racist, one has hated it, one has loved it the rest don’t seem bothered. As for me I can’t stop humming the tune, not sure what that means for me but in the end just watch the video and decide for yourself.