It was apparently OK when “No Doubt’s” Gwen Stefani did it back in 2004, but don’t let Avril Lavigne get away with it! The Canadian singer was slammed on social media Wednesday when her video “Hello Kitty” was released for its "fetishization" of Japanese culture, but it's not the first time an entertainer has done this. Like Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” the new video features Lavigne performing while expressionless Asian women stand behind her.
In the early 2000s, Stefani had the Harajuku Girls, a quartet of Japanese women who went on tour with her and appeared in several of her videos. It might not have been a good idea to do that 10 years ago, but Lavinge’s “Hello Kitty” seems to cross the line into intolerably offensive for many since she added a few Japanese words into her song and then drinks sake and eats sushi in the video.
According to MTV News, the video has been yanked from YouTube. It still can be viewed on Lavigne’s official site, though. A spokesperson for the singer told the pop culture news site the video was pulled from YouTube since it was never officially uploaded and was supposed to go live Wednesday afternoon. It apparently went live on Tuesday.
Entertainment Weekly said there are "serious questions about whether it's offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious." Billboard called the video an “unseemly” “train wreck” that was “an embarrassment in any language.” The site piled on that the presence of “four identical, creepily expressionless Asian women” who stood behind Lavigne were offensive to Asian culture.
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Lavigne hasn’t responded to the backlash on her official Twitter account. Instead, she has continued to promote her new song by sharing pictures from the video. On the 140-character social media site, some users struggled to deem the video as “racist” but acknowledged to song wasn’t good. Other’s found “Hello Kitty” blatantly offensive. Some of their comments have been posted below:
— Rodney Day (@RodDay68) April 23, 2014
"Accidentally Racist" by Avril Lavigne.
— Cheyenne (@itscheyennex) April 23, 2014
Is @AvrilLavigne's new video racist? Not sure, waiting to hear the opinions of 4 silent Japanese dancers dressed as identical puppets.
— BlokhuisGlass (@BlokhuisGlass) April 23, 2014
That new Avril Lavigne video is super embarrassing, awful, and straight up racist. This gif basically says it all. http://t.co/jY7IfJaCHm
— Ted Geoghegan (@tedgeoghegan) April 23, 2014
— Halle Pineiro (@halle_shea) April 23, 2014
But not all the feedback was negative:
Is Avril Lavigne’s new video racist? NO. She is doing her thanggg. Stop the hating everyone. Dismissed.
— Joshua Anthony (@joshneyy) April 23, 2014
The Hello Kitty video from @AvrilLavigne isn't racist, but it was clearly sponsored by a dollar store in China Town
— Megan Merrick (@Megociraptor) April 23, 2014
— Jazmeen (@zTDOTi) April 23, 2014
I fail to see how #avril lavigne's song "hello kitty" is racist? Its about a japanese cat and she is loved in japan. One of my favs
— Thad White (@thadder12345) April 23, 2014
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