10 Reasons Why Avril Lavigne’s ‘Hello Kitty’ Music Video Will Offend You

avril lavigne's hello kitty video

If you pay even the smallest bit of attention to social media, it’s likely that you’ve seen people discussing Avril Lavigne‘s controversial new music video, “Hello Kitty.” It’s been online for less than a day, and the public has already erupted into a cacophony of opinions that have caused the original video to be taken down from YouTube. You can still watch it on Avril’s website, and several people have uploaded copies elsewhere, but we recommend that you press Play at your own risk. Why? Because it’s, um… a lazy, racist disaster.

If you’re not up for the challenge of sitting through all three minutes, we totally understand. We’ve broken it down, bit by bit, and composed a list of the top ten reasons why it’s a train wreck.

1. The verses are about a girly slumber party– complete with pillow fights, a lack of parental supervision, spin the bottle, and a truth-or-dare game that ends in rolling around in underwear– so she’s basically covering all the bases when it comes to harmful sexual stereotypes against Asian women. They’re childish, they’re submissive, they’re all interested in flirting with each other… but just for the amusement of dudes, not because they’re sexual beings on their own. It’s fetishistic and dehumanizing and extremely creepy.

2. She’s still wearing fingerless gloves, huh?

3. The chorus (“come come, kitty kitty, you’re so pretty pretty…”) is obviously meant to be an American person’s impression of how Japanese-speaking people sound when they use English words. She even does a strange, forced accent a few times. Impressions of other races are almost always guaranteed to be offensive to begin with, but this chorus in particular seems to imply that Asian women speak in repetitive strings of cute, little girly nonsense– making them out to be more of cartoon characters than human beings.

4. The background dancers are bored, expressionless, not intended to be distinguishable from one another. They’re mostly there to be submissive objects, which is definitely a unique and positive portrayal of Asian women that America has never seen before, right?

5. There’s something eery about the juxtaposition of these expressionless dancers to the boisterous, colorful, blonde chick prancing in front of them. It’s sending the not-so-subtle message that white women are real and exciting and worth watching and Japanese women are background props.

6. This song was cowritten by Chad Kroeger. How is that even legal?

7. Avril Lavigne is nearly 30 years old. Even Miley Cyrus has started to realize the gravity of her actions when it comes to cultural appropriation, and at 21, she still has a lot of maturing to do. We should be able to hold older adults to a higher standard.

8. Katy Perry has made quite the habit of appropriating Asian culture as well (and we’ve called her out for it on several occasions), but she’s at least attempted to apologize when people have been hurt by her costumes. We’re not saying Avril won’t make amends for this video, but it’s almost worse to know that she’s seen the criticism her peers have received for doing the same thing, and she’s chosen to do it anyway.

9. For the whole bridge of the song, Avril is giddily watching a man prepare sushi, which is such a sadly perfect example of how lazy this video is. “Okay, we have some creepily unsmiling women to serve as props, we have lots of references to Hello Kitty, we have pink and glitter… what else do they do in Japan? Sushi?”

10. As PolicyMic pointed out, it’s likely that Avril’s people created this controversy on purpose to get the public talking about her again. “Before this video, Lavigne was the subject of approximately zero American attention,” they write. “Now, she’s trending on Facebook because she was racially insensitive— and good luck getting the song out of your head.” It’s easier to forgive people when their offensive comments come from a place of ignorance. There’s something especially disturbing about thought-out, calculated racism.

Will Avril issue an apology for offending entire cultures (as well as our delicate ears)? Will the controversy from this video kickstart her comeback? Will everyone forget this happened and go back to barely remembering Avril Lavigne exists? We’ll just have to wait it out and see what happens.

Share This Post:
    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Wow…

    • Samantha Escobar

      This is the only thing pertaining to cats that I hate.

    • Elena

      It’s a sad and lazy attempt to copy Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s visual style, and the music is absolutely horrid.

    • J

      Soooooo are we not gonna talk about how Gwen Steffani wrote the book and cornered the market on appropriating Asian culture, like 10 years ago? Avril can’t even be controversial in an original way. She does try hard though.

      • elle

        Haha I was gonna say Gwen Stefani called and wants her racism back but you beat me to it.

      • cat butt

        I find it interesting that in all the online discussions about cultural appropriation I’ve seen recently, NOBODY ever mentions Gwen. Even last week, with all the girls wearing bindis at Coachella, all the raised hackles about that, and it seems the world forgot about Gwen Stefani’s penchant for bindis back in the day.

      • sugarunicorn

        I dunno, I can recall there being quite a lot of backlash about her whole ~harajuku girls~ nonsense when it was going on. I mean.. she renamed her back up dancers love, angel, music, and baby and forbade them from speaking. Ick.

      • Unicorn glitz

        What

    • Jon

      This chick doesn’t seem to have matured mentally :

    • torn

      I have heard this song was an Asian only release where she apparently still has a large following so I’m genuinely curious what the reaction was there….I’ll try to find something. I have seen on tumblr bloggers from Asia defending/not having a problem with it. Idk SJ can be so American centric that I sometimes think we find offense in things that the original target audience doesn’t find offensive. But I suppose that’s a bigger conversation then this one article.

    • Ashley

      Why are people pretending Avril Lavigne is a serious artist worth criticizing to begin with? I’m so confused as to why this is even a thing. If I hadn’t seen this article, I wouldn’t have even known the girl released a single because she doesn’t get radio or television attention in the states anymore.

      • lazy research

        Because it’s an Asian-release only. The author failed to mention that or just didn’t bother to research.

    • OzellaBonham

      The Music Video is very interesting to be watch and Listen .
      http://antiwrinklefrance.com

    • FemelleChevalier

      #1. Uhmmm. That thing happens in Japanese media it’s almost accurate to the boot. I don’t see them flirting with each other on the video, but the Japanese media does perpetuate some homo-eroticism for both genders, but mainly girls.

      #3. Her Japanese is accurate, actually. There’s no mocking in it. And honestly, J-pop and K-pop tend to use English words repetitively in their chorus. It’s a thing.

      #4. I don’t see submissives, but a typical choreographed dance that most J-pop and K-pop employ. Granted, it’s terrible dancing, but that’s the only offensive thing about it. And the haircuts.

      #5. I think it’s to focus more on the actual singer than the dancers.

      It’s an… interesting song, but I don’t see any racism here. Hello Kitty is a huge Japanese commercial label, so I personally don’t see a problem: it’s just a blatant advertisement. And there is no aspect of the video that can be construed as disrespectful to the culture, which is what’s important. She didn’t wear traditional clothes while dancing, she didn’t dance beside any significant Japanese structure; nothing.

      I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a Japanese (who isn’t born in America) who’ll be offended with this. Japanese (who aren’t born in America) don’t think of themselves as minorities, so there’s no oppression of the white man. This is just another silly video that is already seen in J-pop and other Japanese subculture.

    • tempura-san

      11. It fcking sucks.

      I thought that would be on the list SOMEWHERE. I couldn’t make it past much after “kawaii!” because I could feel my blood pressure and desire to drown myself ratcheting up exponentially with each second. “Ear worm”? Are you kidding? On a purely *musical level* (let alone the uninspiring racist tropes) this is offensive to all mankind.

      • Unicorn glitz

        Hey it dose not suck you suck for saying it suckers sucker

    • billmarcy

      I gather the author never watched a Robert Palmer video before.

    • Blushing

      I’m not sure how it’s even possible to spell eerie wrong, but you manged it Haley! Here’s to grade 4 spelling bees. Or lack of.

      • Afton

        Xcpet booth ar teknickly corect

      • Olivia Wilson

        Since you’re being pedantic, I believe what you meant to say was, “or lack thereof.”

    • Aoki

      Calling out racism when there is none and calling out cultural appropriation when there is none. Sigh.

      Please stop telling other cultures how to be offended. The last time the West did this (pre-WWII) is when the geishas became common whores, homosexuality became wrong, and tentacle porn became a thing.

      There are so many Japanese subcultures within the country that are annoying in and of themselves. Just imagine One Directioners and Beliebers when they became subcultures: that’s how most Japanese sees these. Cosplayers, Otakus, Kawaii subculture, etcetera: these are annoying trends. Obviously, that’s not how all Japanese are, but they do exist (I implore you, please do your research). Avril’s videos is pretty close in portraying a subculture and it’s actually pretty tame (and respectful) in comparison to other crazy Jpop videos. Plus, it’s for her Japanese fans and not her American fans, no? Why are you being offended, then? Are you Japanese?

      For the accent, I see nothing wrong with it. She didn’t say, “pletty pletty, herro kitty”. Plus, she said actual Japanese words that roughly translated to, “You’re great, everyone! Thank you!”. Japanese and other foreigners likes it when some other foreigners speak their language without mockery.

      Plus, I just want to point out that you just equated Asians with Japanese. Please call it Japanese because it’s only for Japanese. Call it Chinese if it’s Chinese. Call it Indian if it’s Indian. Etcetera. You get the picture.

      We (sort of) appreciate the gesture, but Gaijins like you and the author you’ve linked are pretty ignorant and self-righteous by telling us how to feel offended. You’re just as bad as the people you call racist. Unless you’re of the Japanese descent or even a half-breed, please don’t speak on our behalf. And I suggest you talk to an actual Japanese and try to see their perspective on the matter.

    • Really?

      “Will Avril issue an apology for offending entire cultures (as well as our delicate ears)?”

      She didn’t offend any culture except the American hypersensitive sensibilities. And I see you’ve failed to mention how it’s for the Japanese fans only. And you’ve failed to mention the existence of the many many Japanese subcultures.

      If the Japanese said that it’s not offensive, then listen.

    • http://womenshotgunningbeers.com/ Sousedbergin

      In an attention based economy I could create a Cultural Appropriation Fashion Show with white models in ponchos, Native prints, saris, bindis twerking down stage painted as Geisha girls and the internet bloviating with outrage would make me rich.

    • http://womenshotgunningbeers.com/ Sousedbergin

      Being offended on someone else’s behalf is the ultimate first world problem.

    • Crayzcheshire

      I would love to hear from actual Japanese people about their thoughts and feelings on this video.

    • Lucy

      I disagree I like avril lavigne and all of her songs also hello kitty

    • Unicorn glitz

      Hello kity is the best song

    • Unicorn glitz

      Why are you people

    • Unicorn glitz

      Picking on avirl

    • Zeke Jolteon

      You guys are aware this video is just catering to the otaku fandom and isnt racist right?