Dear celebrities, stop. Just stop.
These past few months have been a non-stop campaign to offend Asian people all around the world, and your favorite Hollywood celebrities appear to be at the forefront of the movement.
The latest trailblazer in this effort is Avril Lavigne, whose video for her new song titled “Hello Kitty” (Sorry, did we say “song”? Because what it really sounds like is someone throwing 5,000 Game Boys down a flight of stairs) has managed to cause a backlash over its use of glaring stereotypes of Japanese culture.
Here’s the video that was pulled from Vevo following its premiere:
But this isn’t the first time a celeb has managed to either fetishize or mock Asian people through a tiny narrow lens of the culture. Remember Katy Perry?
At the American Music Awards last year, Katy’s performance of “Unconditionally” stirred mixed emotions from viewers when she donned geisha attire. While everyone agrees she didn’t set out to be racist, she did provoke the ire of various groups such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, who called the spectacle “yet another example of Orientalist, exoticizing stereotypes about Asian women being reinforced.”
The more wrist-slapping errors have come from the likes of Hollywood’s younger star clientele. Miley Cyrus and Joe Jonas were both photographed making “slanty” eyes with their respective group of friends in 2009.
Then there’s Justin Bieber, who brings controversy with him wherever he goes. This case involves the Asian continent, so a few speed bumps were bound to happen on his caravan.
The first was when he had a bodyguard carry him across the Great Wall of China, which most found to be an act of entitled Joffrey Baratheon-sized arrogance.
The second was during his visit to Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial memorial that honors the lives of those whom many Chinese people consider to be war criminals of WWII. Here, the singer Instagrammed a photo with the caption “Thank you for your blessings.”
It sparked a heated reaction from his Chinese fans. Justin responded by immediately deleting the image and writing, “While in Japan I asked my driver to pull over for which I saw a beautiful shrine. I was mislead to think the Shrines were only a place of prayer. To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry. I love you China and I love you Japan.”
To keep all these offenses in perspective, we have come a considerable way since the days of Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. So...progress? Regardless, this is also proof that more education is required into both the varied culture and plights of Asian people everywhere. Maybe if we remind celebrities that the Asian market continues to be one of their largest sources of revenue, they’ll take their grievances more seriously.