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“Chill out. What you yelling for?” Avril Lavigne seemed to implore critics after her “Hello Kitty” video incited a massive internet outcry. Detractors accused Avril of tasteless, tacky cultural appropriation at the very least and racism at worst, a claim she slammed on Twitter with “RACIST? HOW? I LOVE JAPAN!” Defenders were quick to point out that “It’s all been done before,” “it” being the type of pop Japanophilia Gwen Stefani rode hard a decade ago with her Love. Angel. Music. Baby. album. “If you could only let it be, then you would see,” they seemed to counter. If only we could just view the “Hello Kitty” video as the hyper affectionate, albeit naïve and bizarre love letter to Japanese culture Avril intended it to be, perhaps we’d see its real beauty. Unfortunately for everyone, Avril Lavigne included, things are a little more complicated than that.

Seeing Avril acting like somebody else gets me frustrated. Her early persona was one of an every-girl, a people’s pop star less interested in selling sex than she was talking one-on-one to a generation of disenfranchised Hot Topic shoppers. Now, a tanking career and a marriage to the man who is arguably Music’s Most Hated Canadian, she looks like she’s constantly watching her back, like she can’t relax. Though she looks fine in pictures with Kroeger, a gruesomely awkward set of fan photos that some poor souls spent an obscene amount of money for confirm that she becomes somebody else around everyone else. Especially the Japanese.

i dont know who you are but i'm with you

i dont know who you are but i'm with you

Who among us didn’t laugh out when Avril struck a Japanese pose in the “Hello Kitty” video? The juxtaposition of her bubbly, soulless persona and her dead-faced backup dancers is but one example of what stops “Hello Kitty” from being taken seriously. It’s just so egregiously bad, from the demon-candy, Kyary-aping nightmare visual to the misused, tuneless dubstep and aggressively shallow vocal that makes it not a center of cultural debate, a la “Blurred Lines,” but of mass derision. She’s fallen into the one place where she promised we’d never find her: faking, trying to be cool, but looking like a fool to the whole damn world.

Unfortunately for Avril, life’s like this: White and Western culture are the hegemonic races and classes in global society, troublingly privileged as more important than others in education and understood to be the forefront of global culture as a result of years of cultural imperialism. So while white people can admire other cultures, and indeed should be encouraged to do so, there is a major difference between respect of another culture and uneducated tourism, and “Hello Kitty” reeks of the latter. It is peppered with grotesque caricatures of Japanese culture, with the Asian people in the videos dressed and directed to erase any sense of individuality. The result is a video of a white girl going on a vacation through a land populated with people that simply add to the cutesy aesthetic that is Avril’s ostensible interpretation of Japan. She took what she could get and turned it into something offensive without even knowing it. Uh-huh. That’s the way it is.





Curse.
05.05.14
The use of Avril lyrics makes this the fucking greatest

Crysis
05.05.14
here's a whole album of awkward pictures where fans aren't allowed to get near avril

http://imgur.com/a/TX22p

SeaAnemone
05.05.14
She's like so, whatever
Adam, you could do so much better
I think we should get together now


Aids
05.05.14
I can't decide if this article has gotten Under My Skin or if it's just The Best Damn Thing.



SeaAnemone
05.05.14
in Avril's defense: I saw this story earlier and apparently somebody replied by saying that she had been assaulted by a fan in 2011 so I mean it'd make some sense that she or her managers or whatever would have some rules about that shit

Slut
05.05.14
WHY'D YOU HAVE TO GO AND MAKE THINGS SO COMPLICATED

JS19
05.05.14
K-K-K-K... ultural appropriation

Slut
05.05.14
yeah the use of her lyrics in this are awesome

Irving
05.05.14
I'm at work now so I can't read this yet so I guess I'LL SEE YOU LATER BOY

Brostep
05.05.14
absolutely sweet ye

Asdfp277
05.05.14
k-k-k- ku klux klan

Asdfp277
05.05.14
i love her smile @2:06

Green Baron
05.05.14
so much for Avril's happy ending.

Green Baron
05.05.14
song is complete shit

emester
05.05.14
I couldn't even go 5 seconds into this trite


tempest--
05.05.14
ok this is the best post ever Downer you fucking rule

and omg Crysis this pic LOL
http://i.imgur.com/KLF1vLl.jpg

Sabrutin
05.05.14
If I were born in Japan, I would be offended. I don't mind early Avril though.

Crawl
05.05.14
When You're Gone is an excellent song, but other than that, she never appealed to me a lot.

TheSupernatural
05.05.14
The problem with the song is that it's completely fucking unlistenable, not that it's maybe a little culturally ignorant

Green Baron
05.05.14
I don't see the racism but I'm not the best person to judge.

Asdfp277
05.05.14
i don't normally agree with how people denounce "racism" whenever someone makes references to other cultures

but have u seen the video

Asdfp277
05.05.14
yeah that and the song is one of the worst i've ever heard, not exaggerating lol

Deviant.
05.06.14
"RACIST? HOW? I LOVE JAPAN!”

I love incidental racism. "What do you mean? I love the black people"

Kman418
05.06.14
this video is the funniest thing ever probably

MisterTornado
05.06.14
I love incidental racism. [2]

Gwyn.
05.06.14
I don't care enough about Avril to form an opinion on the matter but I read an article that said that apparently the Japanese are pretty ok with it someone from the gobernment (I think? It said some "official" from the country I don't remember the specific other words) said that they liked it, or something like that, and the song was made specifically to appeal to her (Supposedly, incredibly large) Japanese fanbase.

That said, the song is complete shit so if anybody wants to be offended by anything it should be the song.

FourthReich
05.06.14
would bang

Aids
05.06.14
"I don't care enough about Avril to form an opinion on the matter but I read an article that said that apparently the Japanese are pretty ok with it someone from the gobernment (I think? It said some "official" from the country I don't remember the specific other words) said that they liked it, or something like that, and the song was made specifically to appeal to her (Supposedly, incredibly large) Japanese fanbase."

ok so what I gather from this post is that you saw read a headline and didn't bother to remember anything important about the article at all. if you have to say any combination of "or something like that"/"I think?"/"supposedly"/"I don't remember" when trying to cite sources for an argument you want to pursue then you are doing it wrong.

that post was seriously the epitome of click-bait, groupthink bullshit.

Kman418
05.06.14
i like watching the faces of the dancers in the background through the whole thing

Satellite
05.06.14
i think he was trying to fit as many logical fallacies into one paragraph as possible

ShadowRemains
05.06.14
#shotsfired

someguest
05.06.14
this is the coolest lesbian anthem I've heard in my life

Deviant.
05.06.14
"that post was seriously the epitome of click-bait, groupthink bullshit."

A typed comment that links to nothing is the complete opposite of click-bait

MisterTornado
05.06.14
RIP thales ~

Aids
05.06.14
"A typed comment that links to nothing is the complete opposite of click-bait"

you know what I mean. the post reads like it was written by the sort of person who clicks stupid articles with catchy headlines and then doesn't read them.

wabbit
05.07.14
lol

ScorpionStan
05.13.14
The ridiculous, overblown backlash to this video in the U.S. and the accusations of racism only serve to expose how narrow-minded and naive we are to Japanese culture. The most popular artists and entertainers in Japan parody and objectify Japanese culture ALL THE TIME. And the music is just as bad as Avril's song, if not far worse. That's just the way their pop culture is, and that's what people like.

I mean seriously. It was shot in Japan with her Japanese label, Japanese choreographers, and a Japanese director, specifically for her Japanese fans. And if you do a google search for the reception to the video in Japan, the reaction is overwhelmingly favorable. Nobody in Japan had a problem with the song or video (I actually have 2 Japanese cousins who love Avril), because it was obvious to THEM that it was simply a fun, good-natured attempt at fitting in with the Japanese pop scene and celebrating her Japanese fans. Only in America could we turn an innocent, fun little molehill into a big, nasty, racist mountain.

ScorpionStan
05.13.14
http://www.tmz.com/2014/04/25/japan-embassy-avril-lavigne-music-video-hello-kitty/

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop-shop/6077421/avril-lavigne-hello-kitty-video-japan-reaction-tokyo

Brostep
05.13.14
" The most popular artists and entertainers in Japan parody and objectify Japanese culture ALL THE TIME."

that's like saying as a white person "if a black person uses the n-word, why can't I?"

Green Baron
05.13.14
I still fail to see the "racism". Appropriation, maybe. But racism?

ScorpionStan
05.13.14
Brostep: nope it's not even close to the same. First of all, the n-word refers to race and skin color. Avril's video refers to a nation and the pop-culture of that nation. Hopefully you know the difference between race and nationality. Second, the n-word has been long regarded as an offensive racial slur from a white person to a black person. There are comparable words that would be considered offensive racial slurs from a white person to an Asian person. Avril doesn't use any of these words or even get anywhere close. All she does is say some simple Japanese words, use some common Japanese imagery, and do some cliche Japanese things--none which is considered even remotely offensive by Japanese culture. It would be like a foreign music star filming a video in America eating hamburgers, driving pickup trucks, playing baseball, fishing, and dancing with high school football cheerleaders. Nobody here would care. It would be considered, if anything, a "celebration of our culture", as the Japanese Embassy said regarding their impression of Avril's video.

Apples and oranges bro, apples and oranges.

SharkTooth
05.13.14
this video sucks, that's all that needs to be said

Brostep
05.13.14
"Unfortunately for Avril, life’s like this: White and Western culture are the hegemonic races and classes in global society, troublingly privileged as more important than others in education and understood to be the forefront of global culture as a result of years of cultural imperialism. So while white people can admire other cultures, and indeed should be encouraged to do so, there is a major difference between respect of another culture and uneducated tourism, and “Hello Kitty” reeks of the latter."

that's the point Downer's making, and I agree with it. it's one thing to do a cutesy tourism video, it's another to do a cutesy tourism video in a country we kind of fucked up two generations ago

botb
05.13.14
the lyrical puns are so funny

Acanthus
05.14.14
Of all the things to be discussed, I never thought this music video would be one of them.

Leaning towards the "this isn't racism camp" myself, fail to see how it should garner more attention than actual current events.

A good writeup though.

Winesburgohio
05.14.14
Can i just say that when you throw around terms like 'cultural appropriation' in a sociological sense you're necessarily referring to a dominating, hegemonic entity manifesting their power over a subjugated culture right? So if Avril Lavigne had attempted to co-opt Native American culture, or Maori culture, or even Vietnamese culture into an egregious brostep melange then it would be disgusting and worthy of the discussion and cultural criticism it's getting.

But.

I think that saying that Japan is dominated by a Western paradigm is an assumption underpined by the racism that commentators are trying so desperately to call out; this is a western-oriented viewpoint that assumes Japan is victim of Western intervention when in actually it's not; the power discrepancy between the West and Japan is, to my knowledge, minute, but because it's another culture Westerners instinctively make it 'other', which connotes lesser, hence the furore over the video. I mean absolutely interrogate power relations and the discourses that abet them but in this case i feel the ire is misplaced and, though well-meaning, ultimately self-defeating

i would love to hear other peoples thoughts on the matter tbh

deathschool
05.23.14
Goddamn. That song is awful. And that music video may or may not be racist, but I feel bad for everyone in it regardless.

InbredJed
05.28.14
:D So proud to be Canadian right now!

SharkTooth
05.28.14
Eh???

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