Avril Lavigne is brushing off claims that her new music video is racist toward Asians.
The Canadian pop star went onto Twitter to dismiss charges that her new single titled Hello Kitty features lyrics and imagery that some people have already deemed racist toward the Asian community.
Late Wednesday, Lavigne (@AvrilLavigne) tweeted, “RACIST??? LOLOLOL!!! I love Japanese culture and I spend half my time in Japan. I flew to Tokyo to shoot this video…specifically for my Japanese fans, WITH my Japanese label, Japanese choreographers AND a Japanese director IN Japan.”
In the video, Lavigne wears a cupcake tutu and repeatedly uses Japanese phrases like arigato (Japanese for “thank you”) as she dances around a candy store accompanied by several Asian background dancers.
The 29-year-old singer is also shown being served sushi and sake in the video.
Within hours of its release on Tuesday, Hello Kitty was roundly condemned in the music-industry media, including Billboard magazine, which slammed the video for its “Japan fetishization” and criticized Lavigne for “parading around with four identical, creepily expressionless Asian women performing mind-numbingly generic dance moves…”
The video also stirred up a firestorm on social media, which included a Twitter user named Desus (@desusnice) tweeting, “Not sure if this Avril Lavigne video is terrible, racist or terribly racist.”
In response to the backlash, a representative for Lavigne told ABC News Radio, “The video is an homage to all the things she loves about Japan. Food, fashion, fun!”
The same Lavigne spokesperson also defused the suggestion that the racist claims were responsible for the Hello Kitty video surfacing on YouTube early Wednesday and then abruptly being pulled from the website.
“It was not pulled from YouTube,” said the rep, “but it was GEO BLOCKED as VEVO is set to premiere it exclusively tomorrow! Fans were ripping the video and posting to YouTube and then getting removed due to geo-blocking.”
Hello Kitty was co-written by Lavigne and her husband, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, in consort with David Hodges and Martin Johnson and is the fourth single from her self-titled fifth studio album.
Lavigne previously discussed her inspiration for Hello Kitty in an interview with Digital Spy last October.
“Obviously it’s flirtatious and somewhat sexual,” said the singer. “But it’s genuinely about my love for Hello Kitty as well.”