But I Have a Japanese Friend: Avril Lavigne Responds to Accusations of Racism Against Her Latest Music Video

Robert Kessler | April 24, 2014 - 11:00 am

hello kitty
Check out Avril Lavigne's ridiculous new music video
Earlier this week, Avril Lavigne released the music video for “Hello Kitty.” Many called the hyper-colorful, Japan-set video ridiculous. That was bad. Others called it out-and-out racist. That was worse.

So Lavigne is defending herself against the charges of racism with the old “but I have a black friend” excuse.

Lavigne’s claiming that the video cannot be racist since it was filmed in Japan, using real Japanese people. Except that no one was accusing her of yellowface, they were accusing her of an offensive cultural appropriation, borrowing someone else’s culture as a quirky prop, which is exactly what she did.

The video is filmed in Japan, no doubt, because of Japan’s enduring obsession with the song’s namesake, Hello Kitty. Throughout, Lavigne is flanked by a group of Japanese women are less dancers and more expressionless props. During the video, Lavigne ransacks a brightly colored candy shop and plays an anime schoolgirl stereotype in a sushi restaurant. It’s shockingly tone deaf.

Lavigne’s defense rests on the fact that the video is made as a love letter to her Japanese fans. But when the video’s treatment is essentially “look how silly these people are,” you’d assume her Japanese fans would rather return to sender.