Avril Lavigne seems to have taken a page out of Gwen Stefani’s book.
In her brand spankin’ new video for –what we can only assume will be her new single- Hello Kitty, Lavigne has teamed up with four Japanese girls, staged to be quiet background stand-ins while Lavigne prances around yelling about Hello Kitty and “kawaii” things.
Avril Lavigne – Hello Kitty (Official Video) from VEVO on Vimeo.
The video starts off with Lavigne raising her arm in the air and singing, “Mina saiko, arigato, kawaii!” It’s a popular phrase used quite often in Japanese anime and with JPop (Japanese pop) artists to address a crowd. Translated, it basically means, “you guys are the greatest, thank you, you’re so cute.”
There wouldn’t necessarily be anything wrong with the sentence if it wasn’t for the way it was presented.
The proclamation is followed up with Lavigne wearing a colourful skirt, littered with fake cupcakes, standing inside a stereotypical Japanese candy shop, alternating between pouting and giggling.
All the while, the four Japanese girls Lavigne has hired as background dancers move around like robots in the background. Their expressionless faces staring straight into the camera, as if they were non-existent mannequins.
The chorus, which Lavigne finally reaches after dancing around the streets of an imagined Tokyo, is just repeated “kawaii” phrases and hyper-sexual “Hello Kitty” references.
It should be noted the chorus is also accompanied with one of the worst dubstep arrangements attached to a pop song that I’ve ever heard. Just to add the cherry.
Lavigne then ventures off to grab some sushi, obviously famished from her tour of the candy shop. Instead of just sitting down, pouring some Saki, and eating the meal like a normal person, Lavigne decides to make terrible impressions of how she assumes Japanese people must eat.
Not only is it factually wrong, but it’s kind of racist. Once again, the girls are standing behind the counter, waiting to cater to Lavigne’s every whim.
She then parades around a suburb of Japan as countless Japanese girls run up to her in admiration. I don’t know how big Lavigne is in Japan, but I doubt she’s one of their top superstars. To assume she is, just shows off Lavigne’s own arrogance.
It would take an essay to break down each and every scene in the video and try to understand Lavigne’s thinking behind it, but what must be acknowledged is that it was wrong when Gwen Stefani did it back in 2004, surrounding herself with practically mute Harajuku girls, and it’s wrong now.
Considering the song is, at its core, an advertisement for Hello Kitty, and knowing Lavigne isn’t adverse to having product placements show up in her videos, it would have made much more sense to film the video inside a Hello Kitty store. Even then, though, it’s still a poor choice of substance for a song.
It’s a shame because the song is quite catchy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a go-to club banger and rose through the Top 40 ranks, but the video is disastrous, redundant, and tasteless.
Let’s hope this is the last time we see a culture being used to make a “cute” pop video. It’s an old trope, and, as media consumers, we’re ready for something entirely new.