Monthly Archives: May 2014

116: Ralemos

Verb: ralemos – 1. first-person plural present subjunctive of ralar; 2. first-person plural imperative of ralar

Let me defend Avril Lavigne. First, have a look at this reasoned post, then hear out my supplements.

Call this 20-20 hindsight, but when I first saw “Hello Kitty” in my music class, after I got over the butthurt it occurred to me that whoever produced / directed the video had a pretty strong (albeit satirical) grasp of the more prominent features of Japanese pop culture. The lyrics to the song weren’t particularly meaningful (they weren’t exactly in Lord Byron’s hand, but since when has Lavigne ever marketed herself as such?) but they struck me as almost deliberately watered-down. They were on the level of conversation at a giggly slumber party. I wondered if this was intentional – maybe it was riffing on the ka-ka-ka-kawaii-ness that pervades weaboo culture?

I’m not sure what the grim-faced supporting dancers were supposed to convey, but they did provide a foil to the outlandishly cutesy idol style (see: AKB48 et al) that comes off equally unnaturally to people outside the loop.

And the over-the-top, saturated-with-color decor reminded me most of all of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Some of the confusing imagery certainly matched with that style, though watered down appropriately for western audiences.

In sum, once past the knee-jerk reaction that Avril was mercilessly racist in “Hello Kitty,” there’s a whole other world out there to see. I’ve never been so attracted towards a music video (not even “Gangnam Style” held this magnetism) purely on curiosity. And no, I don’t find it offensive, not even as an easily butthurt conservative Asian. It certainly doesn’t help in eliminating the negative stereotypes on Asians, but those who would draw negativity from this video were probably already bigoted in the first place. I don’t think “Hello Kitty” really furthers the cause of Anti-Asian sentiment. As others have already reiterated a million times over in the blogosphere, Avril could certainly have taken a more nuanced approach. I, for one, think her approach worked just fine for itself. I listen to more Prokofiev than I do Lavigne (and I hardly ever listen to Prokofiev) but I would not hesitate to ponder on this video for more than what it presents.

J39M

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