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Pop star Avril Lavigne defends ‘racist’ Hello Kitty music video

Video shot in Japanese capital of Tokyo results in allegations of stereotypical cultural appropriations

Published: Updated:

Canadian pop singer Avril Lavigne has defended her new Japanese-themed “Hello Kitty” music video against charges of racism.

The video, which shows the 29-year-old “Sk8er Boi” singer cavorting around the Japanese capital Tokyo with four look-alike Asian women in tow, led to an online backlash due to its “stereotypical” appropriations towards Japanese culture.

“RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!!” Lavigne said on Twitter on Wednesday in a clear response to the allegations.

“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 added The song’s title is a reference to the world-famous Japanese fictional character, which is commonly featured on merchandise such as stationary, backpacks and clothing.

Some of the video’s detractors took to Twitter to criticize both its content and quality.

‘Blatantly racist’

“Avril Lavigne's new song/video for "Hello Kitty" is super awful, annoying, and blatantly racist. But she's looking pretty good,” wrote one Twitter user.

“Avril Lavigne's racist new "Hello Kitty" video is so awful it reaches some kind of like next plateau of terribleness,” wrote another.

An article on U.S.-based media site Bustle.com claimed that the video’s depiction of Tokyo, “her random use of Japanese language,” and “her silent backup dancers” constituted racist attitudes.

“According to Lavigne, Japan is just a playground of candy stores, fast trains, and sushi restaurants,” the article said.

The pop star’s backup dancers “are so transparently props to Lavigne… when will white pop artists be finished using women of color as human set-pieces in their music videos?” it added.

Popular gaming and media website Kotaku.com said that the video was not racist, “but disappointing.”

“To be clear, nothing portrayed in the video is really false about Japan… If anything, the video feels like surface-layer self-indulgence of the more stereotypical Japanese image as perceived by a foreigner. Not racist – just shallow,” the article said.