Is Avril Lavigne’s new music video racist?

Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne plays the Highline Ballroom in NYC on Dec. 3 and the Wells Fargo Center in Philly on Dec. 4

Being accused of racism, like leaking racy photos and writhing at awards shows, seems like it has become just another rite of passage for pop stars. You know you’ve really made it when your Twitter followers are telling you to check your privilege. It certainly doesn’t seem to do much lasting damage to their careers – not at a Miley level of fame, anyway. Avril Lavigne may find it a little harder to deal with.

Lavigne’s video for her new song “Hello Kitty” shows the pop singer romping through Tokyo doing various touristy things, backed by four mostly expressionless Asian backup dancers. Some of her fans took issue with the video, claiming it plays off Japanese stereotypes. It is certainly stuffed with Japanese cliches – sushi, a bright candy-colored aesthetic, polaroids, and, of course, it’s called Hello Kitty. Weirdly, there doesn’t appear to be any Hello Kitty-branded stuff in the video. Maybe Sanrio thought it was racist too.

I feel you, Desus. It’s hard to tease out my distaste for the song itself from the possible offensiveness of the video. Avril, however, laughed off racism claims immediately.

Case closed! No one can be racist against Japanese people when they are physically in Japan. Seriously, I don’t know. The video is below. Decide for yourself.


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