Avril Lavigne’s video for her new single, “Hello Kitty,” is a bit of a head-scratcher. As the pop-punk princess attempts to sway her Hot Topic minions into a new, sugar-coated world of synthesizers and cutesy pop-rap — “Someone chuck a cupcake at me?” Huh? — she’s also being accused of appropriating Japanese culture in a totally racist way.
Lavigne’s video features expressionless Japanese backup dancers following the Canadian singer around Tokyo, where she frolics through a candy store and giggles over sushi. Is she using Asian culture as a prop? Pandering to her fan base there? Or simply trying to emulate Gwen Stefani’s career in the most obvious way possible?
Lavigne views “Hello Kitty” as an homage. It’s an expression of love, she says. She took to Twitter to explain:
RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half of my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video…
— Avril Lavigne (@AvrilLavigne) April 24, 2014
…specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan. — Avril Lavigne (@AvrilLavigne) April 24, 2014
Alas, we’re still waiting for her explanation for that laughable faux guitar work in the video.