Avril Lavigne's latest single is getting plenty of attention, but it's not due to a catchy hook. The hubbub is all about the video for "Hello Kitty," which sees the Canadian singer-songwriter getting her kawaii on throughout Tokyo while four Asian women — decked out in matching costumes, wigs and deadpan expressions — follow her around. Some critics have called the video racist, both for its use of the women as little more than background accessories and for its alleged cultural appropriation, and Lavigne has something to say about that: "LOLOLOL!!!"
The backlash began shortly after the video dropped Monday. On Wednesday night, Lavigne took to Twitter to defend herself.
But if Lavigne had hoped to stop the criticism with that response, she's likely disappointed. Thursday morning, Simon Mitchell of the band Young Guns delivered his not-so-supportive take on the controversy.
This certainly isn't the first time a pop star has faced allegations of racism over the use of Asian women and Asian culture as a backdrop for her own leading-lady image. Gwen Stefani, who long surrounded herself with a quartet of backup dancers known as Harajuku Girls, was the focus of similar feedback.
Actress-comedian Margaret Cho once referred to Stefani's act as a "minstrel show," but framed it as a complicated issue. ("Amos ‘n Andy had lots of fans, didn’t they? At least it is a measure of visibility, which is much better than invisibility," she said.)
While critics have been vocal about Lavigne's alleged offense, she also has her supporters.
Still, others say that "Hello Kitty" is problematic without bringing up the issue of racism at all.
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