Avril Lavigne's 'Hello Kitty' is the Latest Video to Use Asian Women as Props

Avril Lavigne's 'Hello Kitty' is the Latest Video to Use Asian Women as Props

Like Gwen Stefani and Katy Perry before her, Avril Lavigne is the latest white pop star to think Asian women make such! cute! props! In the Lavigne’s latest video, "Hello Kitty", she romps in a pastel tulle skirt and chalk streaked hair, while robotic Asian backup dancers all dressed in identical brightly colored costumes flank her on either side.

The music itself is bad enough. Gone are Candian singer’s pop-rock ballads of teenage angst, replaced by mind numbing lyrics such as “Come come kitty kitty you're so pretty pretty” set to over-produced beats. Billboard has described it as “an embarrassment in any language”.

But it’s the visuals that really get me. A candy colored mashup, the "Hello Kitty" video is not original (2004 called and wants its Harajuku Girls back!) and makes no discernible statement with its juxtaposition token Japanese words (arigato and kawaii) with the images of street life. At its worst, the scenes of Lavigne eating sushi and drinking sake call to mind teen singer Allison Gold’s "Chinese Food" video from last fall.

While there have been plenty of articles and tweets calling the video racist, Lavigne has yet to respond. But in an interview with Digital Spy announcing her album last October, she says of the song:

“’Hello Kitty' was such an interesting topic and subject. It was really exciting. I didn't want it to sound like anything I'd done before. I wanted it to sound over the top so I ended up hiring a new producer to help me with it.”

In the same interviews, she also demurs when asked if "Hello Kitty" is a euphemism for her hoo-hah.

The whole things reminds me of Katy Perry’s geisha-costumed performance of “Unconditionally” at the American Music Awards, which and Asian women as backup dancers and a set full of stereotypical Chinese and Japanese imagery. After Perry's show was widely criticized as disrespectful to Asian culture, you'd think Lavigne might have reconsidered her video.

By Wednesday evening, Lavigne took to twitter to issue her predictable defense of the video:

MTV reports the "Hello Kitty" video disappeared from YouTube after its Tuesday debut, but the video is still up on AvrilLavigne.com.

What do you think of the "Hello Kitty" video?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs about raising an Asian mixed-race family at HapaMama.

Related Posts

Asian Pride and Our Heavenly Citizenship

"Do you like being an Asian, Meg?" I asked my preteen daughter as we enjoyed Japanese-style hot pot dish shabu shabu at a hip restaurant in town. All of the workers are Asian -- Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or some sort of a mix -- although they probably all primarily speak English. More importantly, they are attractive young men and women wearing stylish jeans and t-shirts with the restaurant's equally stylish logo. The decor is decidedly Euro-modern sleek, and so is the background music.   Read more >

Psy "Gentleman": Can "Gangnam Style" Star Be More Than a One-Hit Wonder in the US?

Now that every child old enough to swipe a finger across a touch screen knows the chorus to "Gangnam Style", Korean pop star Psy has released a follow-up, "Gentleman", which racked up over 53 million views in its first two days on You Tube, beating Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" for the most pageviews in its first 24 hours. And did you notice he's busting out the MC Hammer harem pants?   Read more >

Chinese Food and the Red Guard: When Does Insensitivity Cross the Line into Racism?

Is a video about Chinese food, complete with gong sounds and a dancing panda racist? Or just tacky? If a popular Christian minister posts a propaganda picture of a Red Guard soldier, comparing the image to the zeal of his employees for their work, is that racist? Or just tone-deaf to massacre of 30 million people during the Cultural Revolution?   Read more >

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.