Taking a break from our regularly scheduled program…this has absolutely nothing to do with the usual content of my blog, but I’ve seen a lot of angry ranting by non-Japanese people about how “offensive” the new Avril Lavigne music video is, and I felt the need to set the record straight about something.
And that is what Japanese people think about the video.
(Btw, here’s a Japanese article linking the video, titled “Avril’s New Song That is Overflowing with Love for Japan”: http://videotopics.yahoo.co.jp/videolist/official/music/pcaba1d18e2bdd6a6a5661cdce7e96ec2)
For those of you who think this is absolutely crazy, or haven’t heard about it at all (lucky you), here’s the rundown of this controversy. There are a few basic things that I’ve seen people complaining about for this video.
- The motif of the video is oversimplifying/labeling Japan as nothing but “kawaii” and giving a false representation of what Tokyo is.
- The backup dancers are robotic, expressionless, and uniform. This feeds into stereotypes that Asian women are subservient and have no purpose besides decoration. (read: women in most music videos, regardless of race, are portrayed this way. Sexist, sure. But racist?)
- Avril is being offensive by saying Japanese words with a “vaguely Asian accent” (read: trying to properly pronounce Japanese words, which she makes a fairly good try at, for a non-Japanese speaker).
I’m not going to pay any more lip service to these arguments, because as a person who speaks Japanese, has lived in Japan for years, and is primarily friends with Japanese people, I feel that all of these points are 100% bullshit. Not only that, there’s nothing about this video that hasn’t been done by a whole slew of different JPop chicks. Have any of you ever looked at Kyary Pamyu Pamyu?! (I try to avoid doing so, myself). And let’s not get into the cultural appropriation of Black culture by K-Pop or the cultural appropriation of European culture by the lolita fashion style in Japan. Or what about any old Japanese VK PV that utilizes overly sexualized white models who serve no purpose other than being pretty? Avril’s “offense” seems pretty minor considering that we tend to accept all these other things as if they’re no problem.
Is cultural appropriation of Japanese concepts really offensive to all Asians, even those not of Japanese descent, or who have never lived in Japan? And if not, what do real Japanese people think about this music video?
I decided to take to Twitter and find out.
This is basically Fairy Type against Dragon Type for Pokemon.
When I’m doing tours over on the Island, I HAVE TO sit on the chairs with the pillows. I just HAVE TO.