He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.— Nietzsche
So I watched Avril Lavigne’s new Hello Kitty video because it came up in a swarm of news articles all claiming it was absolutely horrific.
Is it a blight on music and culture? As far as the Internet is concerned, hardy har, well obviously since someone from Nickleback was involved!?!?!!111duh.
Before you let the mass of angry people sweep you up in the mob, just because the Internet hates something, isn’t because it sucks. Memes are going to bias the “standing ovation effect” so before you stand to clap, or stand to boo, because everyone else is doing it, check the mob’s assumptions.
I think it’s an absolutely normal pop song. It isn’t awful nor revolutionary. It does provide an interesting and unique musical interpretation in its attempt to mash-up Avril’s pop rock and J-pop rock.
Here are my responses to the most commonly cited reasons Avril should stab out her eyes and give up on life:
Reason 1: People say it’s lame that she says random Japanese words like “arigato” and “kawaii”.
Response: Perhaps you are unfamiliar with J-pop? It is common for a J-pop artist to pick random English words like “happy” and “cute” and “love love” all the time!
Reason 2: Use of cultural memes is always cultural appropriation and is RACIST!
Response: I am so sick of calls of racist just because a white chick or dude might want back up singers that aren’t white for their music video in which they are referencing non-white culture. Saturday Morning Cartoon diversity is nice in the workplace, but it isn’t applicable to every single situation. The reason we strive to preserve or respect different cultures is so that we can all, white or non-white, have the benefit of drawing from them.
She didn’t even get any points for the fact that she was having the Japanese dancers approximate American pop dancing as a foil to her interpretation of Japanese pop-technique. She had them come in and then do something culturally unexpected, and if anything, only received vile epithets from the audience for doing so.
Fun fact: a lot of folks know the KKK as a machine to lynch or kill other races. However, the modern KKK is actually all about making sure there is no intermixing or interbreeding between the cultures. If you want some allies in your fight against “cultural appropriation” why don’t you have a seat over there with them?
Cultural appropriation is done without the “permission” of the culture, it is not every use of that culture’s tropes. Like if I try to call you my n***** without your permission. Or if I display your sacred icon in a disrespectful way for fashion. Or if I call my sport’s team the Red Skins and our rallying cheer is the “ah bah bah bah bah”. Not if I, a pop icon of one sort, combine tropes from my culture with your culture, working with a group of your culture. That’s cultural appreciation.
Reason 3: Her outfit is tacky/her hair is lame
Response: Oh, that’s right, it’s evil to have passed from the age of 20 and still expect to be cute. But if she wore something “slutty” she’d have to account for that too. Fashion police are the lamest people in existence. I think it’s cool, a unique punk do. The whole point of punk hair is not caring that your hair may be outrageous to lame people.
Reason 4: Her giddiness at eating sushi is mockable.
Response: Wow, she just looks happy to eat some sushi like anyone else. She is fully correct to be cute in this moment. Did you forget this was a Hello Kitty referencing song?
Anyways, I’m no huge Avril Lavigne fan, nor does she exactly need my defense, I just despise the Internet Hate Machine and constant race-baiting fueling the viral media culture. Avril can be kawaii in her music video, and it will be shared and appreciated amongst those who love Hello Kitty.
The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.