The reputation experts at Reputation Maxx share that singer Avril Lavigne’s latest single “Hello Kitty” and its subsequent music video released this week has some critics claiming the content to be racist. Reminiscent of Gwen Stefani’s collaboration with the Harajuku Girls nearly a decade prior, “Hello Kitty” is themed after the kawaii culture created in Japan. Lavigne, a known fan of Japanese pop culture, denies allegations of the content being racist and instead feels it is an homage to all that she loves about the country and culture. Despite this, the video has been removed from Lavigne’s YouTube page.
Certain critics believe that “Hello Kitty” presents stereotypes to use Japanese culture as a commodity. The video has received mixed responses regarding the conclusion of whether or not the material is racist. The general consensus seems to be that while the content is not overtly racist, is at least somewhat culturally insensitive.
Reputation Maxx shares that content in the video includes Lavigne dancing with Japanese women all in identical uniforms and hairstyles, eating sushi, drinking sake, and signing some lyrics in Japanese.
Artists showcasing other cultures is nothing out of the ordinary for the viewing public. Although some have been overlooked, others have been criticized and either received intense backlash or are soon forgotten until another work raises similar concerns. As soon as allegations of racism came up, Lavigne took to her Twitter account to defend her music video saying that she spend half of her time in Tokyo, a city that she loves and filmed the video there with a Japanese crew and Japanese director. It was made specifically for her Japanese fans who have always supported her, even though the period where she seemed to fall off of the music charts in the states.
The debate between popular culture, ethnic culture, and commercialism will not be going away any time soon, reveal the reputation experts at Reputation Maxx. However, it could prove useful to discuss such examples to have a better idea of what might be construed as harmless fun and what could produce harm towards certain groups exposed to the material.