Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty”: Racist, or just crap?

You remember Avril Lavigne? Personally, I remember her as the girl who did that “Sk8er Boi” song back in 2002 that a lot of kids slightly younger than me found intoxicating and which I hated. I hated it for a lot of reasons, one of which was that it’s crap. But I also take issue with the narrative of the song.

Avril Lavigne made a name for herself with teens as the girl who was just one of the boys. She wasn’t the prissy girl who wore skirts and took ballet. No, she was cooler than that, she understood you like none of those girly-girls did. She was basically a boy in a hot girl body. It’s the kind of self-loathing and ingrained misogyny a lot of feminists describe as being akin to Stockholm syndrome.

Caption contributed by Nycea

I’m soooo different.

So… what’s Avril Lavigne doing now?

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty": Racist, or just crap?

…well, at least she pronounced “kawaii” right.

The article continues after this advertisement...

I don’t know if you noticed, but the internet has this problem with overreacting. People immediately denounced the above video, for Avril’s new song “Hello Kitty”, as being astoundingly racist, including myself. But upon further inspection, it’s less problematic than I originally thought. The problems only seem magnified by the fact that the song, again, is crap.

The worst, most glaring problem with the video is the props… oh wait, sorry, “backup dancers”. These women escort Avril all throughout Tokyo while looking miserable and dancing like robots. Despite the song’s “Harajuku” theme, these girls don’t embody a Harajuku style.

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty": Racist, or just crap?

If Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMAs taught the world anything, it’s that white people shouldn’t accessorize themselves with minorities to gain street cred. It reduces people of color to the level of set decorations, only there to bolster the image of the white person. That’s really the main problem.

There have also been allegations of “cultural appropriation” in regards to the video which, I swear to God, like trigger warnings, no one knows what that phrase means anymore. So let’s set the record straight.

This is cultural appropriation.

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty": Racist, or just crap?

This is pandering to a new fan base.

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty": Racist, or just crap?

…Because no one in the US is really listening to Avril Lavigne anymore. Sure, she still has a sizable, dedicated American fan base who hang on her every tweet, but that’s pretty standard for anyone who was ever famous ever. But even as her fame in the west has dwindled, Lavigne is actually still pretty popular in Japan, and that’s ultimately what “Hello Kitty” is about: shifting her image from the tomboy skater girl who understood your specialness to a Harajuku punk rock princess.

Did it work? Ehh.. well, her Japanese fans certainly seem to like the video. Reactions in the rest of the world range from confusion to accusations of “selling out”. Which is just precious. Apparently, there are still a few remaining music fans who believe pop icons actually sit in their pajamas all night agonizing over lyrics and riffs. When in reality, four separate writers are credited for “Sk8tr Boi”, including Lavigne. I’m not sure if I’m more shocked that she was actually one of the writers, or that it took four people to come up with the lyrics for “Sk8r Boi”.

Getting back on topic: Is “Hello Kitty” racist? Sort of. Again, the backup dancers are the biggest problem. It’s no “Asian Girlz”, but what’s confusing people and setting off the racism alarm is how totally forced the video comes off. No one looks happy. Despite the bubblegum pop theme, Lavigne looks like she’s forcing herself. It’s easy to chalk this up to her failure as a performer, but in reality it could be a variety of factors. She could have been feeling the pressure of launching a new image. She could have felt awkward on set if the crew didn’t speak very much English. She could have been heinously jet-lagged. It’s always best to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, Avril’s response to accusations of racism was less than classy…

It can’t be racist, I have Japanese friends!

Regardless, the resulting video is sort of cringe-worthy for anyone with a passing knowledge of Japanese culture. Ultimately, Avril comes off like a hyperactive tourist, hitting all the stereotypical “Japanesey” things: colorful clothes, the childlike girly-girl image, shopping, sushi, taking pictures, etc. But the video lacks anything deeper to indicate that Avril knows anything about Japan.

Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty": Racist, or just crap?

“Hello Kitty” could have really benefited from a J-pop cameo. There are like forty members of AKB48—I’m sure one of them could have taken the afternoon off. Less infantile lyrics would have also helped.

Mom’s not home tonight
So we can roll around, have a pillow fight
Like a major rager, OMFG
Let’s all slumber party
Like a fat kid on a pack of smarties
Someone chuck a cupcake at me
It’s time for spin the bottle
Not gonna talk about it tomorrow
Keep it just between you and me
Let’s play truth or dare now
We can roll around in our underwear how
Every silly kitty should be

Okay… I’m no stranger to Hello Kitty. I love Hello Kitty, bright colors, sushi, and in fact I love most of the things presented in this video. On the surface, I should love Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty”. But I’m almost thirty. And so is Avril Lavigne. The baby-faced lyrics clash not only with her age, but also her previous skater girl character. So overall, the video comes off as disingenuous, and that’s really what’s getting under people’s skin. The term “poseur” is long since dead, as fear of hipsterdom makes people avoid it, but the fact is people hate this video so much because Avril… looks like a poseur.

So what can we learn from this? Probably not much. We won’t know the exact circumstances of what brought about this image relaunch, unless Lavigne decides to speak out. It’s possible that the original video was much better and got butchered in editing. But it’s more likely that Lavigne, like Gwen Stefani before her, was just not thinking about it too hard. No shock there.

You may also like...

  • Michael Martin

    Wow. Just wow. This actually makes me feel kind of sorry for her. I read her performance as a “shit, my agent and producer said I had to do this, so here I am” kind of thing. Wow, I honestly can’t get past how terrible this is. And Sk8ter Boi is my most-hated song (not least-liked — MOST HATED). I still rant about how terrible the story/message of that song are to anyone who’ll listen. And yeah, this is racist, but it’s a racism that’s so ingrained in Western culture that most people couldn’t recognize it if they wanted to. As you point out, someone probably just said “hey, that Japanese thing worked for Gwen Stefani” and a career shift was born.

  • CAFR

    I’m not sure I’d go with racist. It however the last, desperate gasp of a young woman trying to remain relevant in her chosen field long after she ran out of things to say. There’s nothing there behind the eyes anymore. She just keeps releasing stuff because this is the only thing she’s known since she was sixteen. If anything, the fact that she’s so shamelessly pandering to The Internet should really be the narrative people are following here, because let’s be honest, this is where once relevant Pop Stars go to die.

  • MichaelANovelli

    “She was basically a boy in a hot girl body. It’s the kind of self-loathing and ingrained misogyny a lot of feminists describe as being akin to Stockholm syndrome.”

    I wonder what those same feminists must make of our genderqueer friends?

    • Cameron Vale

      Or just tomboys, really.

  • The_Stig

    I’ll just say, if she’s going to marry Chad Kroeger she deserves everything she gets.

  • Not racist. Really it is just sort of goofy.
    What is odd is that the song doesn’t even sound like her, it sounds like Cher Lloyd. It’s just crap, everybody makes a shit song now and again.

  • Trurl

    Did boys even listen to Avril? I thought she had a predominantly female audience, which you would think meant the whole Skater Girl thing was at least intended to be some form of a grrl power thing… I mean, I don’t know, I’m 50. I don’t pay attention to any of it 😀

    • Magdalen

      It never came off as girl power to me or any other girls I knew. It came off more like, ” I don’t go in for that girly shit and that’s why I understand boys better and I’m special” It’s the fantasy of what skater boys thought they wanted reflected back at them by the music industry that was catering to them. Marketing is funny like that.

      • Trurl

        I trust you… like I said I never paid close attention. 95% of all marketing seems to be either A) pandering to guys’ fantasies or B) pandering to girls’ (probably misguided) ideas of what pandering to guys’ fantasies are, so that fits right in.

        • There is a song about that. It was called “Bitch Bad”. And it is about the mixed messages men and women receive, in specific concerning the word “Bitch”.

  • MichaelANovelli

    So, is it just me, or does this remind one of when Liz Phair just randomly went pop later in life?

    • Thomas Stockel

      The difference is, Liz is, you know, talented. 🙂

    • Bouncy X

      i guess if all someone knows Avril for is her first album..it might seem like a big jump or change. but its really not, there’s been a slow move towards this sorta stuff, it started with the 3rd album really. though i will say the song does stand out from the current album’s track list as the rest is nothing like this and more like the first two albums.but i imagine anyone who’s followed her and/or is a fan wasn’t too shocked as was the case for me. yeah, i’m a fan and not a teenage girl..sue me. 😛

  • Joseph Patrick

    Avril Lavigne… born on September 27th, sharing the same birthday as me. The only thing standing my way is 7 years and Chad Kroeger (sigh).

    Yeah, I had nowhere else to post this. Just wanted to bring that up.

    • $36060516

      You’ll have to bury your cartoon pole oozer somewhere else!

  • The Horror Guru

    “Because no one in the US is really listening to Avril Lavigne anymore.”

    That right there. Nail, meet head.

    I have not heard an Avril Lavigne song in about 10 years because she hasn’t been relevant for about 10 years and I would have never heard Hello Kitty had there not been a big controversy causing my curiosity to get the best of me. Had there been no racial outrage the song would have been lost in obscurity, as has all her material recently.

    (And yes, I had to check to see if she HAS been producing songs over that 10 year period I mentioned above because I had no idea if she had!)

    Not to belittle the complaints people have about the video, mind you. I get it, even if I think Japan should decide how offensive it is – Not Americans. But I think sometimes the internet needs to take a cue from the Bill Hicks handbook: It’s a piece of shit, so walk way.

    If no one’s going to remember it, it doesn’t matter – So why bother MAKING them remember it? I don’t know. Mayhaps I’m the foolish one here.

    • Magdalen

      I actually think Japanese people aren’t really the ones to decide. I said this on Twitter too, but when she said, “I filmed this IN Japan” well…good for you? The effects of stereotyping aren’t felt by Japanese people IN Japan. It’s Asian Americans that have to deal with it when those types of things are reinforced.

      • The Horror Guru

        I’d argue if we’re talking about the stereotyping of the Japanese people, that yes it is for the Japanese people to decide how offensive it is. O_o; This isn’t a video stereotyping Japanese Americans, she’s specifically in Japan. =P

        • Magdalen

          Well, no. Not really. Japanese people make up the vast majority of people in Japan. They aren’t experiencing the effects of racist stereotypes in their own country. Asian Americans, however, are still grouped in with Japanese stereotypes. Racist concepts don’t stop at country borders, they extend to everyone you associate with the race. And here, they’re the minority. Just because that wasn’t the intention doesn’t mean it didn’t have that effect.

          • The Horror Guru

            Okay, it’s obvious we are NOT going to agree on this so I’m dropping this now. =

          • MichaelANovelli

            I’ve always felt one should never get offended on someone else’s behalf, since that robs them of their agency, so I’m just gonna ask: has there actually been that much of a backlash against this specifically from the Asian-American community?

          • Magdalen

            …okay seriously did anyone READ the article? The whole point I’m trying to make is that it’s less racist than the social justice community is making it out to be. That’s it’s more just a poorly made video with a few racially charged elements. The back up dancers is a known offense. Stefani did it, Cyrus did it, we all know it’s in poor taste and you don’t need to be a person of color to see that. This is not a call to arms, it’s an analysis of a crappily made music video and the reaction of social media to said video.

            (EDIT: I wrote this before my morning coffee and in retrospect came off way too grumpy grouchie. I apologize.)

          • MichaelANovelli

            Oh, no, I got that much. I was legitimately asking. ^_^

          • JD

            of course its less racist then the knee jerk reactors make it out to be. most of the time it usually is.

            its just pop music that no one but preteen girls like. the rule for these acts is that no type of publicity is bad publicity, if the detractors calling it racist gets people talking about( and watching or buying the music) it then they have succeeded in getting the attention they want. people getting up in arms about an aging pop star parodying Japanese culture that isn’t really Japanese culture outside of a middle school isn’t going to change the world

          • E.Buzz Miller

            Yeah it’s definitely the backup dancers with the ‘Japanese girls dress weird and are a little crazy’ thing.
            There’s no offense intended,probably, but it’s still stereotyping.
            Personally I think there needs to be levels of cultural appropriation.
            At the top would be wearing traditional clothing as a fashion statement which is pointless and just wrong, white hipsters wearing headdresses at Coachella etc.
            Where it becomes murkier is stuff like wearing items of clothing associated with an area with good intentions, not wearing it as a costume (which is what this video mainly is to me, though the line of wearing it as a costume is blurred here).

          • Magdalen

            Cultural appropriation of pop culture specifically is pretty much irrelevant. Because pop culture spreads and intermingles throughout different cultures. It’s Japan reflecting their version of Western culture then reflected back by Westerners and so on and so forth. “Pooping back and forth, forever.”

            Cultural appropriation is a problem when you trivialize people’s cultural roots for fashion or without any knowledge or respect. Had she been wearing a traditional Kimono, dressed up like a Geisha, or a religious figure- than yeah THAT’S cultural appropriation. Avril Lavigne is integrating herself into Japanese pop culture.

          • JD

            “Pooping back and forth, forever.”

            Ah that describes pop music rather well.

          • $36060516

            and poop music

          • $36060516

            And as I know ya know, Japan has done a lot of cultural appropriation (as you describe it in the second paragraph) of the West as well… Neon Genesis Evangelion’s use of Christianity, for instance, doesn’t seem that concerned with respecting the source material (though I don’t have a problem with it and enjoyed the show)!

            Nice Miranda July reference.

  • Alexa

    I am ashamed to admit that I liked Avril Lavigne when she was a thing. Her first song was catchy and yeah I liked Sk8ter Boi. She really pandered to the whole rebellious teen thing that attracted me. But looking back it was sooooo forced, even when I liked her she felt like she was forcing herself to be all “punky” and snarky and be “I’m so different because I wear a tie with tank top and a spiky belt.” And really there’s nothing wrong with liking boyish things, just don’t think that because other girls prefer wearing pink and skirts are automatically mean girls, with no personality, and basically inherently weak.That’s stupid.

    Its called preference, and forcing any kind of image whether it be the pinkish or punkish kind is never really a good idea. Let people like what they like. As for this song I just find it bad and of course very very very forced which was always the case with Avril Lavigne.

    Also I will never stop loving that John Stewart gif. It gets your feelings and message across quick.

    • KLLRFRST

      To be fair, Avril got rid of the look a few months after she popularized it because she said it was starting to feel like a costume. But I still wanted to smack her for constantly claiming that she was punk. No, you were nowhere within 10 miles of punk, Ms. Lavigne.

      • Alexa

        Yeah that was pretty much the problem with Lavigne, she tries a bit too hard and because of this I have no idea what her identity is as a person or a singer. Say what you will about Lady Gaga, but her image is her creation not someone making it for her. She basically does her own thing, and not someone doing it for her basically.

      • E.Buzz Miller

        Yeah Avril was as much punk as Michael Jackson was a gang member.

  • Xalazi

    I think that the best way to determine if Hello Kitty is racist or not is to see the exact same behavior done, but with a good song instead. For example, Gwen Stefani’s What you waiting for:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTfbCOPApsQ

    And granted, Gwen was clever enough to mix the Kawaii motif with Wonderland, so that it’s not as in your face as Hello Kitty. But the main problem is still there: using another culture as prop.

    Ultimately, yes. I think it’s racist, but it’s racist in a way that people have a hard time wrapping their heads around. It’s not evil. It’s not intentional. It’s not done with malice. It’s not a great social injustice. It’s
    not the worst thing in the world by any stretch, but it is problematic. It’s trivializing another culture. It’s reducing something complex and interesting down to the lowest common denominator, and then wearing it like an accessory. It’s the kind of thing that leads to statements like “I thought all (insert culture here) liked (insert thing here).” In short, it furthers ignorance and stereotypes in its own subtle way.

    Also, let the record show that Avril Lavigne did one of my favorite pop hits of the past 20 years, loosing your grip:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOcKckBLouM

  • I remember liking Sk8er Boi when it came out when I was nine. My ability to comprehend song lyrics at the time was pretty much nonexistent if I recall but I remember liking the music,

  • rpdavies

    A bit of an odd mix, I sort of liked her around the time of Complicated & have a sort spot for most things Japanese, even then it doesn’t gel very well.

    There seemed to be a time when a few groups made videos in Japan, it’s the sort of thing that seems to come in & out of fashion every few years.

  • Hitchmeister

    I probably don’t get Avril Lavigne.

    I always thought she was mocking whatever she portrayed with her music and videos. Kind of, “This is crap and I know it. I do it because it sells and if you like it, you’re every bit as bad as what I’m making fun of.” That made sense to me then, and even more so now. That’s why no one smiles or seems to be having genuine fun in the “Hello Kitty” video. No one can un-ironically like the stuff being depicted in it.

    I’m sure I’m in the minority (and therefore wrong) in viewing it that way.

    • Anísio

      I’m kind of with you. I do think she used to take herself seriously in the beginning of her career. Now, it’t been getting more and more obvious that she’s just trolling us, IMO, which makes her a lot less insufferable. I used to loathe her, now I’m just enjoying the show.

    • Magdalen

      Even though I don’t like her music, I’m not one to needlessly beat up on celebrities. However, I would say you’re giving her too much credit. She came onto the scene looking to cater to a specific market and never really did anything subversive or satirical. I don’t think any of her work has been self aware parody.

    • Cameron Vale

      I know what you mean. For ‘Sk8er Boi’ (yeah I know, Spell Checker, I don’t like the name either) she adopted this ridiculously artificial persona, which is precisely what ‘Complicated’ was mocking, which I found strange. But then she repeated this several more times, each time adopting a persona more ridiculously artificial than the last, and always with a poorly concealed indifference that could easily pass for condescension. There’s really no way to know though, Poe’s Law and all.

  • George

    Racist….No way…This song so absolutely crap, misguided and boring that I cannot take it seriously enough to consider if it is racist…

    • Magdalen

      It’s a smidgen racist. A skosh. Nothing that a bunch of other performers haven’t done before.

      • Jay_Bay

        Well Nycea, a little dab would do ya.

  • JD

    Why cant these people just go away anymore? have your 3-4 year run make a pile and go away when your preteen fans discover real music. dont worry another lip-syncing hot blond white girl will take your place for the next set fans in that age group. Rinse and repeat and you have discovered how pop music works.
    Not Racist just crap

  • KLLRFRST

    Sorry, Avril – Gwen Stefani beat you to it 10 years ago. She even had a better quartet of Harajuku girls than you did.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. At least when Gwen did it her entourage actually looked like they were having a good time.

  • david white

    I liked her first song “complicated”!! “Girlfriend” might have more misogyny!!

  • $36060516

    My reaction to this story on reading it in Jezebel is that it felt like a bunch of cruel teenagers (i.e., bloggers) picking on someone they felt comfortable laughing at. She’s already married to the lead singer of Nickelback, which is one of the default bands that people wanting to make a cheap sarcastic remark about bad music make fun of. The tone of the criticism really seemed to me like “mean girls” territory.

    I’m not a fan of the song or video but she made it in Japan with a Japanese director and Japanese performers for a Japanese audience whom you say enjoyed the video. If Kyari Pamyu Pamyu had released this video, no one would have batted an eye (though they might have question the decline in her songwriting abilities). I’m willing to bet that most of the people making blog posts and dismissive tweets/Facebook posts about this aren’t even Asian American, let alone genuinely offended.

    Coming on the heels of #CancelColbert, it’s feeling a bit like another mob mentality faux outrage fest to me.

    Gwen Stefani actually did make me angry with her schtick. I think that was because she went to the length of giving her silent dancers names, carting them with her everywhere as props, and selling merchandise based on them. This, so far, is just one music video.

    • JD

      “#CancelColbert,”
      CNN has lots of time to fill

      • Magdalen

        I feel bad that Suey Park when off the deep end with #cancelcolbert and alienated so many people, because her #notyourasiansidkick actually started a really constructive dialogue. Shame, really. :/

        • $36060516

          Yeah, I think if they had just not gone all the way to “cancel” I would have been fine with it. People demanding that all the people on that show lose their jobs because of that joke seemed quite unreasonable!

  • $36060516

    Last thought: it’s obvious that if Lavigne was culturally insensitive by making this video, it was not done with malice or disdain for the Japanese people. She is obviously enthusiastic about certain aspects of their pop culture. If a conversation needs to be had about the appropriateness of her choices in this video, it should be held at a volume and tone appropriate to addressing someone who did not intend to do anything wrong and acted in good faith. But that isn’t what’s happened. It’s mainly an opportunity for Western people who feel like they know Japan better than Lavigne and who have better taste than her to deride her for not being cool enough to know how to pay tribute to Japan in a more subtle and tasteful manner. It reminds me of the deriders of “fake geek girls.” She’s being treated like she’s a “fake otaku.”

    I do not mean any of the above to be an attack on or criticism of you, Magdalen. Your post raised reasonable questions. Just reacting to the original outrage.

    • Magdalen

      The knee jerk reaction is pretty indicative of where things are right now. I think you’re right, there was no malice here. Just thoughtlessness. But it’s important to remember than thoughtless actions, even when no hurt is intended, can still reinforce bad habits in people. Also it’s just a crap video.

  • Moppet

    All the obvious stuff aside, my actual first reaction to hearing about this whole thing was, “Avril still makes music?” It’s hard to be surprised that the video is bad, even offensive, when her music was bad and offensive for all manner of different reasons in the past. A new layer of bad surprises no one. Her entire image from the first time I encountered her, throughout everything I’m aware of her doing since was one manner of forced, “I somehow fit in this scene” that no one with a brain bought. Avril once again trying to surround herself with “insert anything here” to appear as a part of it, is pretty consistent with the very first thing I ever came across that she did.

    The “hanging out with the kids that wear baggy pants and skateboard” thing isn’t really different, if you think about it, the only real difference is who it makes grumpy. Of course this is worse, given the potential for racism instead of her original, if ultimately harmless, attempts to appear as one of a sub-culture of kids that wore baggy pants and skate boarded.

  • Victor Armando Chapa Pineda

    Well i assumed Avril Lavigne is popular in japan because she actually perform the Theme Song for a One Piece movie and that is popular as hell.

  • Wizkamridr

    I thought she was making fun of katie perry and not japan. And don’t the japanese poke fun at americans?

    • Magdalen

      She’s not making fun of anything. This is a sincere video.

  • How old is Avril Lavigne by now? Because the video and song didn’t seem racist to me at all. Ridiculous for her age and desperately trying to make little girls think she’s cool, on the other hand…

    • Magdalen

      I think she’ll be 30 in September.

      • Thanks. Now for a totally unrelated question:
        Did you write this article? I’m honestly curious, your picture resembles that of the author’s avie a little.

        • MichaelANovelli

          Yes. She did. ^_^

  • Dar

    “Avril Lavigne made a name for herself with teens as the girl who was just one of the boys. She wasn’t the prissy girl who wore skirts and took ballet. No, she was cooler than that, she understood you like none of those girly-girls did. She was basically a boy in a hot girl body. It’s the kind of self-loathing and ingrained misogyny a lot of feminists describe as being akin to Stockholm syndrome.”

    Well to be fair, feminists bitch about everything.

    If she was girly-girly then they’d complain about “gebnder stereo-typing” and “weak submissive” blah blah blah.

    There is no satisfying professional whiners.

    • Magdalen

      Oh hey, did you hear that, guys? I’m a professional! Sweet.

      I love that the whole basis of your complaint is: something you think I might have said if things had been different but weren’t so it’s pretty irrelevant but you still wanna be mad so go-go gadget rationalizing! Hahaha

      • Dar

        Well, a professional whiner is a notch below a professional a**hole, so yeah, you’re a real professional.

        “I love that the whole basis of your complaint is: something you think I might have said if things had been different but weren’t so it’s pretty irrelevant but you still wanna be mad so go-go gadget rationalizing!”

        That made no sense, but I do admire the Inspector Gadget bit, even if you’re probably too young to remember him.

        Bottom line: you whined about this hack “singer” being too boyish and apparently belittling girly things, “It’s the kind of self-loathing and ingrained misogyny a lot of feminists describe as being akin to Stockholm syndrome” were your words.

        I pointed out that if she was real girly girly you’d whine also.

        Why? Because whining is the duracell battery of feminism.

        • $36060516

          Yeah, the woman who posts instructional videos on makeup looks inspired by Sailor Moon characters would be horribly upset by “girly girly” things.

          That’s what she was referring to with the part you said “made no sense” that flew over your head while you were engaging in your own whining about feminists. You were judging how she would react based on negative stereotypes in your head rather than actually knowing her work. You posted here simply to attack a scary lady phantom in your skull via well-rehearsed monologue rather than to engage in actual conversation.

          • Magdalen

            Scary Lady Phantom! I’m stealing that. <3

          • MichaelANovelli

            Actually, I could kind of see you as Phantom Lady. Is Earth X still part of the DC continuity?

          • Dar

            Let’s review what she wrote again, shall we?:

            “Avril Lavigne made a name for herself with teens as the girl who was just one of the boys. She wasn’t the prissy girl who wore skirts and took ballet. No, she was cooler than that, she understood you like none of those girly-girls did. She was basically a boy in a hot girl body.”

            Then followed by this:
            “It’s the kind of self-loathing and ingrained misogyny a lot of feminists describe as being akin to Stockholm syndrome.”

            She attacked Lavigne’s tom-boyish behavious as “self-loathing and ingrained misogyny”.

            I say feminists, whom she references, would and do bitch when it is the opposite. Being too girly would “re-inforces gender stereotypes of partiarchal discourse that must be deconstructed into a Foucault-ian neo-textual post-modernism of the global south…etc…etc…etc….”.

          • Magdalen

            Can’t say I’ve ever heard that argument. Sounds like a strawman to me.

            Look, I’m no stranger to radical feminism and how people can get lost down a rabbit hole of increasingly hyperbolic ideals. But feminism is…big. Half the population of the human race are women and most of them have an opinion on feminism because it’s effects us. With that many people involved you’re just going to get some crazies. You can’t take a look at some 17 year old’s Tumblr who calls herself a feminist and say “well, that’s all feminism is right there.” Shit, Andrea Dworkin wrote a book and she’s fucking NANNERS. Even feminists think she’s crazy.

            You can’t fully understand anyone until you make an honest attempt to empathize with them. Really try to see them as humans and not the evil succubi that validate your worldview. Not that you’re going to do that. I’m not even certain you’re capable.

        • Magdalen

          “That made no sense, but I do admire the Inspector Gadget bit, even if you’re probably too young to remember him.”

          Oh my, you certainly think well of my age. Still got it, apparently.

          Well, no. See you’ve missed the point entirely. And looking back through your other comments where you angrily yelled about feminism, I’m not surprised.

          The point is not that she was too boyish. The beef I had with Sk8tr Boi was the story it told and how it was framed. Lavigne created a character whose whole point was that she wasn’t like the girly girls. She was the tomboy who really “got” you the way those other girls couldn’t.

          This is an act girls have played out for decades. I’m painfully aware I did this myself as a teen. It’s important to portray yourself as “just one of the guys” so you can be accepted and most importantly- non threatening.

          Skater Girl wont judge you, she thinks you’re great just the way you are. Even if you’re a grungy loser with no direction or a job. Skater Girl don’t care. Because she expects literally NOTHING of you. And that’s the appeal. It’s a desperate attempt to actually fit oneself into the Manic Pixie Dream Girl model regardless of you’re own interests or personality. It’s all about validation.

          What guys don’t see a lot is how emotionally fragile these girls are. Because they’re so wrapped up in catering to his fantasy of the perfect girlfriend they completely lose themselves. Unfortunately leading to some of the most insane, codependent women you’ll ever meet EVER. They’ll cook you’re fucking rabbit.

          Lavigne’s song is all about the perfect, special skater boy whose girlfriend is just too vain and *gasp* takes ballet! UGH THAT’S WHAT GIRLS DO. It’s all about how girly girls suck and they’ll regret the day they blew off the perfect special skater boy, because he’ll be famous and have money some day. And girls like HER aren’t like that. Because she “gets” him. The song panders to how young men liked to see themselves. As special and misunderstood. And if a girl dare not like you, well fuck that bitch she’s superficial and high maintenance. She doesn’t like that you dress like a hobo! How vain!

          …It’s also just a crap song.

    • $36060516

      There’s apparently no satisfying amateur assholes either.

      • Dar

        I wouldn’t know, I’ve never met your mother.

        • $36060516

          Aw, there you go with the misogyny again. No wonder these feminists have so much to bitch about around you!

          • Dar

            Funny that any insult towards any female is “misogyny”.

            Apparently women are like the Borg, insult one and you insult them all.

            How about this: you were a misandrist for insulting me, a man.

          • Magdalen

            It only takes a quick perusal of your comment history to see you have a serious problem with the ladies, dude. You got some anger at pretty much anyone who dares talk about women in media. Or just women writers. Maybe you should talk to someone about that.

          • JD

            Dont feed the trolls Nycea

          • Magdalen

            I know I know. But…it’s so amusing. XD

          • $36060516

            “Apparently women are like the Borg, insult one and you insult them all.”

            Would go along well with your theory that all feminists are the same and thus it’s cool to drop a load on the author of this article for what you perceive as the perceived sins of her gender.

  • Marshall Oliver Estes

    Between this and the controversy over Sky Ferreria’s video for “Blame Myself”, I have to ask: what is the line between appreciation and appropriation?

    • Magdalen

      I think appropriation becomes a problem when you don’t bother to take the greater cultural significance into account. The model in the Native American headdress is a perfect example. It’s a religious symbol that deserves a certain amount of gravity and respect. But it was thrown into a fashion show to make her vaguely “Indian-ey”. No care, no respect. Not to mention it’s a majority white fashion industry profiting from the cultural imagery of someone else’s culture. That’s why pop culture doesn’t really fit the bill. Because pop culture usually doesn’t have a foundation in anything other than, “hey this is popular let’s sell it!”.

      • MichaelANovelli

        Not to sound cheeky, but what if you don’t respect any religion? Wouldn’t that make it wrong to say that one deserves special treatment over the others?

        • Magdalen

          Religion is intertwined with culture. Not believing or endorsing a religion, or being critical of it? Yeah, that’s normal. Not respecting it? Ehh, I don’t know. I guess you’de just be an asshole.

          I mean I’m an Atheist. I’m VERY aware of the negative impact the Abrahamic religions have had on the world. But if someone were to turn up their nose and say, “I don’t respect any religion.” I’d probably think they were a first year philosophy major with their head up their ass. It’s the kind self righteous blithering I heard a lot from douchebags who thought they were just way more enlightened than other people.

          And really it’s not about special treatment. It’s about white people continuing to tromp all over the globe, picking and choosing what they like from people’s cultures and profiting from it without the any understanding of what the symbols mean.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Well, I’m an atheist, and my objections aren’t based simply around the legacy of the Abrahamic religions, but my own, deeply-held belief that religion, as a *concept*, is evil. I don’t consider myself all that enlightened, only that I know what doesn’t smell right. To my standards, anyway. As I’ve said before, I am a socialist, and I believe in treating everyone more or less the same. So, if I tell Person A I think their beliefs are bullcrap, I must do the same with Person B, and so on.

            Being that we know each other (and those reading can judge from my interactions with people), I think one could conclude that I’m not just some asshole. Egotistical, maybe, but my actions speak for themselves. ^_^

            Yeah, I would agree that people just picking and choosing bits of other people’s culture just because it looks neat is hardly the nicest thing I person could do, but in our increasingly global world, picking and choosing from other people’s shit (not just colonial powers, but average people from any strata of society) will just be the name of the game. And yes, that does potentially let me off the hook in some hypothetical future scenario, but, I would extend the same courtesy to anyone else. ^_^

          • Wizkamridr

            I couldn’t care less if someone thinks my religion or beliefs are b.s. However, I don’t like being called an idiot for my beliefs. At the same time, I don’t cram my religion down people’s throats. Nor do I think I’m better than everyone else.

  • $36060516

    Just discovered a similar cultural appropriation video from a year before Lavigne’s that didn’t seem to get nearly as much outrage, though there were a couple of articles on it.

    http://www.mishthimusic.com/post/49959338536/top-ten-list-of-all-the-reasons-why-iggy-azaleas

  • I forgot my damn Login

    You make an interesting case. Still after watching the video again I have to say it’s leaning heavy to the satire side. I think it is just so over the top that it can’t be taken seriously. Also, this seems to be the intend of the producers. I recognize completly, that Avril Lavigne is as a character is deep rooted in the pop business. That said, in my opinion the producers/writers are clever enough to tune the Avril character to it’s audience; which means a pseudo sarcastic – but very pop music – persona.

    So…. is this misogynistic? Sure, sexy sells. Is it racist? Well… kind off. The background dancers are definitely a prop to enhance the “show”. Still the “joke” should be on the white canadian(?) girl who tries to adept to a group she doesn’t belong to. In the end you have to ask yourself: Is this video hurting somebodies feelings (racism wise)? I think it’s not. The song is just damn stupid.

    • Magdalen

      Whoa, who said anything about misogyny? Misogyny is a, “dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.” She’s barely sexual in this at all. Infantalized yes, and I suppose one *could* make that argument, but it’s a stretch.

      I see your point about parody, but I don’t know man. I don’t see it. It’s an interesting point to be sure. 🙂

  • Moppet

    According to the Huffington Post Canada, Japanese people were not offended by the music video, with most of the outrage actually coming from western audiences. A spokesperson at the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. defended Avril, explaining, “[She] had only good intentions with making the video.” She also added that the video helped people discover the beautiful and rich culture of Japan.

    • Magdalen

      Yep. Well, first it’s important to point out that HuffPo doesn’t get to speak for all Japanese people. Just on principle. But as I said earlier: The effects of stereotyping aren’t felt by Japanese people IN Japan. It’s Asian Americans that have to deal with it when those types of things are reinforced.

      Like of course Japanese people in Japan aren’t going to really be worried about racism- they’re the majority in their country. The vast, overwhelming majority. Japanese Americans, however, are a minority living in a largely diverse country. They’re the ones who put up with it and many have be outspoken about how much it pisses them off.

      • Moppet

        The Huffington Post wasn’t speaking for Japanese people, it actually went out and collected data. That’s the point. Just the same, the majority of the upset articles and noise being made seems to be coming from white people, who really are the last people that should get a say in whether or not Japanese or Japanese-Americans find something racist. The culture being depicted here was not Japanese-American, it was Japanese, the only people that really get to say whether that’s offensive, or not, are the actual people being depicted. So yes, actual Japanese people are the ones that get to decide this, not Japanese-Americans who weren’t even being depicted. If they’d filmed the video in the U.S. starring Japanese-Americans being forced to dress and act like Japanese stereotypes then this would actually be a talking point, and yes, that would be racist beyond all belief. That, however, is not the case.

        Personally the song and the video are quite terrible regardless of racial issues, so, all that aside, this likely is more an issue of people with really bad ideas writing songs and directing videos than an issue of racism, intentional or otherwise.

        • JD

          But is she poking fun at any real Japanese Culture? or just the pre teen level Japanese Culture?
          ^
          ok that being said i figured i should actually watch this video before i shot my mouth off about it. yes it was as god awful and exactly like i imagined it would be, pre teen pop crap no better or worse then 50000 others out there of the same genre.
          So no she was not even coming close to being offensive to any real Japanese Culture, which is why i dont think anyone really complained even if The Huffington Post ” researched” the reaction or not.

        • Magdalen

          The entire point of this article was that it was less racist than people are making it out to be, and more just god awful than anything else. The only problematic thing are the back up dancers, which is nothing new. It’s kind of the industry standard of racism. Not really in good taste, but not the worst thing ever. As I said, it’s no “Asian Girls” by Day Above Ground.

          About the Japanese/Japanese-Americans thing. I disagree. You see it really makes no difference whether the people in the video are Japanese or Japanese Americans. Not one bit. Stereotyping is all about generalizations.

          Are you a nerd? You must be a fat, socially awkward virgin.
          Are you a woman? You must be an over-emotional sissy.
          Are you Asian looking? You must be one of those crazy Japanese people I hear about. Do you watch anime? What kind of weird shit do you eat? Are you good at math? WILL YOU BE MAI WAIFU!?

          They could have used Koreans or Chinese actors for all it mattered to someone who goes on stereotypes alone.

          And it’s true, concern-trolling from white people is fucking stupid. My intention was never to concern troll here. The whole point is that the complaints are a bit misguided.

  • DPPalbert

    What can we learn from this article? Sometimes people have way too much time on their hands, so they end up over analyzing a harmless music video. Using some Tumblr Buzzwords does not a good article make…

    • Magdalen

      …is the buzzword cultural appropriation? Because that was a thing way before Tumblr. Also my point was this *isn’t* cultural appropriation. Tumblr rarely gets it’s right.

      • DPPalbert

        Since you managed to bring racism, mysoginy and cultural appropriation into your article about a silly little music video, I don’t see how it makes your point all that different from an overreaction on tumblr. Also neither you nor tumblr. Seem to grasp how idiotic it is to require someone to immerse him / herself in a culture they are not familiar with just to be able to wear a piece of clothing.

        • Magdalen

          It sounds like you’re picking words at random without any regard for their context.

          Racism – saying it’s not really that racist.

          Misogyny – referring to a previous video.

          Cultural Appropriation – This isn’t cultural appropriation and people who say it is don’t understand what that is.

          Our media- TV, music, and film- reflect our cultural values. Always have, always will. You can’t get away with a song like Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) now because our culture has changed. It’s why we don’t do black face anymore or have characters like Charlie Chan. I stand by what I said, this is mostly just a poorly made video. But you’re just trivializing because you don’t agree.

          • DPPalbert

            I think that you are contributing to the fact that this is supposedly a big deal and are playing into the hands of those who are calling it whatever the buzzword of the day is. I personally quite enjoyed the video and Avril Lavignes Japanese fans did too and I think that’s all that really matters.

          • $36060516

            Translation: “I’m just going to plug my ears and pretend my original point wasn’t completely shown to be a baseless attack, and repeat it while stamping my foot.”

          • DPPalbert

            Well your comment was pretty pointless…

          • $36060516

            Like talking to a a brick wall with “I hate Tumblr” graffiti on it. Everything one says to the wall is replied to by “I hate Tumblr,” until one simply walks away.

          • DPPalbert

            You could just stop whiteknighting Nycea,when somebody criticizes her would make everyone’s lives easier… Nobody asked you to jump into this conversation and be a moron, yet here you are.

          • Guest

            Remember kids, when you disagree with someone and woman is involved- you’re “white-knighting”. No matter what the circumstances. Because vaginas. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

          • Magdalen

            Remember kids, when you disagree on the internet and a woman is involved- it’s white-knighting. No matter what the circumstances. Because vaginas. THE MORE YOU KNOW. *rainbow*

          • DPPalbert

            It’s whiteknighting because the person is repeatedly disrupting the conversation to “defend” the other party.
            The sex of the defended party is irrelevant. However you seem to assume it’s because you are a woman and you immediately have this knee jerk reaction.

          • $36060516

            Your statements were dripping with typical internet dude “I’m annoyed that anyone is discussing issues of race, gender, and sexuality — these are things only crazy people on Tumblr talk about” tone. It’s easy to make fun of one or more of these things if they don’t affect you in an obvious way. Since you made these statements on a public forum, and since I was annoyed by your lazy reliance on these cliched arguments and your intolerance for Magdalen daring to bring up the subject of race even though she agreed with you that the video is not racist, I felt free to respond. Apparently I failed to see the invisible wall you put up around your words to declare them off limits for reply.

          • DPPalbert

            So you decided rather than contributing something of interest to the topic you are going to disrupt the conversation. I don’t forbid you to reply, I just reserve the right to not take your replies seriously.
            It doesn’t matter what you think I may sound like. Its pretty irrelevant to the actual point I’m making and his point is simply: she is overanalyzing some silly music video by using buzzwords that were already adopted by professional whiners to sound more sophisticated.

            If you want to argue, argue the point otherwise I won’t bother replying to you as it’s not your first time doing this when I comment.

          • $36060516

            I really don’t think I “disrupted the conversation,” as by the time I arrived it appeared you had already made your point so thoroughly that you had resorted to repeating it, and Magdalen had already replied to you quite effectively — she needed no defense by me. I simply popped in at the end to express my annoyance and amusement. If you have anything further of substance to add on this subject, feel free.

          • DPPalbert

            Then you admit that your comment was pointless. So you shouldn’t wonder why won’t bother to respond to you in the future. Have a nice day.

          • $36060516

            Interesting! You expressing your opinion is an important conversation that shouldn’t be disrupted, but my expressing my own opinion is “pointless,” just as you declared Magdalen’s entire essay pointless for discussing something you deemed unworthy of consideration. The dreary words of others are invariably overshadowed by the dazzling gems of wisdom pouring forth from DPPalbert’s golden keyboard. Resistance is futile!