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.