Music sites across the internet are awash with criticism towards, Canadian pop rocker, Avril Lavigne’s latest video Hello Kitty. As a fan of Avril’s previous music, I thought I’d take a wee look. Have a look for yourself, below.
First thing I’d say, is that it is dang catchy, very cutesy pop music. Which is fine. But, I feel that there is a section of the music buying public, who liked the Avril who sang Sk8tr Boy, not this perky, girly nonsense. Those people need to understand that a music artist, be it Cradle of Filth or One Direction, they will not recycle the same music album after album. They will progress, change their sound to get more sales or keep with their own tastes. Music is something artistic, and art is influenced by what goes on around you. As a result, as a person’s life changes, the music that they wish to create may also change. You can argue about it being marketed as the Hello Kitty song, and being appealing to young children. Sitting here on a Hello Kitty bed, with a Hello Kitty plush beside me, actually makes me think this song is marketed at me, actually. Yeah. Awesome.
The video is set in Japan, with cute Japanese girls as backing dancers, as Avril sings about a pre-teen slumber party. Or that is what it sounds like to me. There have been cries that this video is racist, particularly to the blank expressions and dance routine of the backing dancers.
“I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.”-Avril Lavigne
Fair enough comment to make, right? Except, it feels a bit like when a racist person says they have a ‘black friend’ as if that proves they aren’t racist. I don’t think that is the intention at all, but I can’t help shake that thought out of my head. But, what she is saying is true. Avril is very popular in Japan, so has ended up doing a video that may appear similar to other Japanese pop videos, in a manner of it’s styling. Possibly paying homage to the music scene that has made her feel accepted. Looking back at Qwen Steffani’s LAMB dancers, I find that more offensive. Love, Angel, Music and Baby were 4 Japanese dancers that followed Gwen around like puppies, in many music videos and tours. These people didn’t have a voice, but became a big part of Gwen’s act. Maybe I wasn’t aware of it, but I didn’t see such a negative reaction for that. And that act actually did make me feel strange seeing it.
In this world, where cultural appropriation is becoming a majorly debated topic, people call foul of any person seen not respecting other cultures. Some people don’t have the capacity to believe that they could disrespect something just by wearing an item of clothing, for example. If something looks cool and interesting, some people want to be a part of it. They maybe don’t know the intricacies of the culture, but that doesn’t mean they disrespect it. However, if someone from the culture, which you are borrowing from, does get offended, they should be listened to. If what you are wearing is from another culture, it is not your voice that matters when someone from that culture is offended. There is a belief that is instilled in some ‘white’ people, that they have the right to anything. This is not true, and people should respect one another, no matter their colour or heritage.
Do I think the video is offensive? It’s more rubbish, than racist, in my opinion. BUT, racism isn’t something that I have experience in, so I don’t feel qualified to base a decision on it. Qwen Steffani’s Japanese phase made me feel a lot more uncomfortable than Avril Lavigne’s one. The crass advertising of a children’s product is what turns my stomach more than the Japanese theming.