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If you're anything like me, your middle school self rocked out to “Complicated,” at least on the daily. My personal style for several years followed Avril Lavigne's subtle punk look. Several hundred Wet N' Wild black eyeliner pencils later, I have finally matured into a bitter old lady that longs for the old days. So when I heard Avril had a new video coming out, I was actually kind of excited to see what she had created. And oh my, how I was ever so disappointed.
Lavigne, who seems to be going through some sort of career reinvention, released her video for "Hello Kitty", which seems to harken to the Harajuku culture Gwen Stefani so gracefully brought to the States. Unfortunately for Lavigne, she completely missed the mark and the video just seems forced and incredibly awkward and has been labeled by some as racist. While I don't want to delve too much into how offensive this is or isn't, there is definitely a level of misunderstanding and disrespect going on here. Plus Avril looks bored and sometimes a little terrifying.
Take this creepy still as an example...
The song was co-penned by her husband Chad Kroeger, of Nickelback fame (or infamy depending on who you ask). It also borders on copyright infringement. It is dotted with random phrases in Japanese spoken with what sounds like a horrible accent and the lyrics are so simplistic they're almost insulting. Look, I know I'm not Avril's target audience anymore, but I'm very disappointed. The song is half sexual, half sounds like when you're desperate to get someone's cat to sit with you at a house party.
See what I mean...
Even more offensive than the bland lyrics and Lavigne's bored look is that she misses every single characteristic of what makes Harajuku culture so much fun. Her dancers are stone faced instead of having a good time, the video lacks entirely the cute “kawaii,” elements Lavigne is trying to sing about and perhaps most importantly, it doesn't have nearly enough color to really make it scream Japan. One thing I have always loved about the aforementioned Gwen Stefani's take on this cultural phenomenon is she actually seems to understand the color and the mood while being completely respectful. Avril missed an opportunity to do something actually good here.
Unfortunately, YouTube pulled the video for a slew of issues, but you can still watch it on Avril's website . I'm not sure exactly how long this hot mess will be on the Internet, but if you're really curious I would give it a listen. Oh how far we've come since the days of "Sk8er Boi"H.