Famed pop-punk singer Avril Lavigne has released a new music video for her song “Hello Kitty.” The song’s main theme is a thinly veiled innuendo for her…well, you know… But what is more alarming is the content of the music video which features four Asian women in uniform sweaters, shorts and bobs. They show no emotion at all and dance in a twitchy fashion Lavigne stands in front of these Japanese robots, energetically dancing, kicking and apparently having the “arigato kawaii” time of her life. She is seen running around Tokyo as if it were her own personal playground, dancing in a candy store, taking sake shots, and eating sushi. All the while, her Asian posse stands behind, as cold and robotic as ever. Is she insinuating that Asians cannot express emotion? That we all look the same? That we are all bad dancers?
Lavigne is not the first to turn Asians, and in particular, Japanese women, into voiceless accessories. Gwen Stefani had her infamous Harajuku girls that she dragged around for years. Katy Perry also just recently had a geisha-themed performance for the American Music Awards.
The public reaction is perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this whole debacle. While some such as Jezabel and Bustle are outraged by the cultural appropriation, one reviewer calls the video “a love letter to Japan” and dozen others don’t even mention the racial offenses at all. Why is it that the mainstream media continues to ignore these blatant instances or racism? Lavigne’s video is tasteless, racist and downright painful to watch. It would do us all good to recognize that.