Avril Lavigne Pleads The “I Have A Lot Of Japanese Friends” Defense Over Her Racist Music Video

avril lavigne hello kitty

Much has been said about Avril Lavigne‘s latest abomination, a bizarre and accessorizing-with-another-culture video called “Hello Kitty.” In fact, it has somewhat dominated the news cycle these past few days–you heard me. Avril Lavigne is dominating the news cycle. What a time to be alive.

Lavigne has responded to the backlash with a few flippant tweets, and they aren’t what I’d call a great response.

 

Sure, this whole thing was a ploy for attention anyways, so it’s not like Lavigne is spending much time thinking through the larger implications. She was courting controversy–Lavigne is, by my count, only relevant as a punchline these days. In a surprise move, everyone is talking about her, even leveling measured, well-thought out criticism at her. In what was probably a paid endorsement for the Hello Kitty brand and a plan to garner critical attention, Lavigne made the most embarrassing video I’ve seen in years. Well, since her last one. And it worked.

But you’d think–given the obviousness of this plan–that Lavigne would have been prepared for the expected and baited backlash, and she’d have a slightly better answer than “I have Japanese friends.” Saying that the video was made with the help of Japanese people doesn’t make it any less of a video about a white girl stomping through Japanese culture like it’s a video game. If a black man directed a video depicting Avril Lavigne in blackface, would we we all be cool?

The one thing I’ll say here is that I haven’t seen any responses to the video coming out of Japan–all the criticism is coming from Western voices. So I have no idea how this was received there, and if this was created solely for Lavigne’s Japanese fans, it might benefit us to hear from them. This is far from a defense of Lavigne (I find the video reprehensible), but we could all use a reminder not to drown out the voices of the people we’re defending.

Lavigne’s response is pretty piss poor, and laughing at an important critical debate while not actually answering for yourself is weak at best. Then again, I’m not sure what a reasonable expectation would be for Lavigne. Is she supposed to join in on the critical debate in a real way? That’ll be the day.

Photo: Youtube

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    • Samantha Escobar

      To be fair, she’s married to Chad Kroeger (sp?) so I feel like her judgment is just hilariously off-balance. If she ever had to defend herself in court, their relationship would be used as evidence that she’s insane.

    • Kat

      Unfortunately I kind of agree with the commenters on your other article about this, namely, that the video was meant for her Japanese audience and magically no one from across the water has complained about it. And honestly, Sam’s comment below misusing the word “insane” and applying it to Avril- “criminally insane” or otherwise- is very insensitive given your website’s critiques of the word when applied to Amanda Bynes and as a micro-aggression in general.

    • FemelleChevalier

      “Saying that the video was made with the help of Japanese people doesn’t make it any less of a video about a white girl stomping through Japanese culture like it’s a video game.”

      How do I explain this… In Japan, there are subcultures that have nothing to do with the Japanese culture itself. Most Japanese thinks it’s weird actually, but some of the younger generation loves it. There’s the Otaku, Gyaru, etcetera. What Avril did (albeit poorly because she’s a horrible dancer) is a video about the Kawaii(?) subculture that involves a ganjin gyaru.

      So… no. The Japanese (not born in America) won’t find this offensive in a sense of how you’re thinking it should be. Maybe a poor imitation of an annoying subculture, but that’s about it. Maybe if she dressed like a geisha and humped someone, then that’ll be offensive. Or if she portrayed a flamboyant gay man in a traditional clothing dancing, because that’ll be offensive to the memory of the famous and respected Japanese heroes who are gay.

      If the reasoning is that it will impact the Japanese-Americans, then people have/need to consider that the video caters to the Japanese audience, not American. That’s why it got the stamp of approval from the Japanese executives. And… the white girl thing is different from a native Japanese perspective. Avril is famous there because a pretty ganjin in media is received rather nicely because they’re exotic. And pretty. That’s it. It’s incomparable to blackface because the Japanese were never oppressed as a race. A capitalistic subculture doesn’t define the Japanese culture and its people, much like Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber doesn’t define America.

      Yes, it’s a weird video, but no more than what the J-pop idols are spouting. The only difference is that the idols are better dancers.

      • vesp

        To me this video was like a bad copy of kyary pyamu pyamu’s stuff, but not necessarily racist, to me she’s just a white girl trying to copy what japanese pop singers are already doing.
        However, the video is indefensibly horrendous. I haven’t seen something so godawful in ages, the song, the editing, avril in general. God.

      • FemelleChevalier

        It is, and that’s what missing with the critics’ logic. It’s not a good video because the dancing is horribly unpolished and the editing is subpar. That’s the only offensive part here.