Avril Lavigne: 'Hello Kitty' video not racist

Avril Lavigne in her "Hello Kitty" video.

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Avril Lavigne has responded to criticism by some online commenters that her Japan-themed music video for "Hello Kitty" is racist.

"RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!!" tweeted the Canadian pop singer, 29. "I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan," she said.

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The song and video, which MTV described as an "off-the-wall, dubstep-laden acid trip," shows Lavigne in Japanese locales including a candy store and a sushi bar accompanied by four unsmiling Asian women in childlike clothing. The song, anchored to a chorus invoking the Sanrio character Hello Kitty, includes a few words of Japanese, such as arigato (thank you) and kawaii (cute).

Media outlets themselves have been more critical of its aesthetics than of any perceived racism. Billboard said the video "squeezes Gwen Stefani's Japan fetishization into an even more unseemly package," while Entertainment Weekly noted, "There are serious questions about whether it's offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious (this one's for you, large Japanese fanbase!)." The Japan-oriented gamer site Kotaku.com bemoaned the video's "surface-layer self-indulgence of the more stereotypical Japanese image as perceived by a foreigner. Not racist -- just shallow."

Pop-music appropriation of Japanese culture has had critics, notably Gwen Stefani's use of Japanese and Japanese-American backup dancers, the Harajuku Girls.


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