If you blinked you might have missed it. Avril Lavigne released the official video for her latest single, "Hello Kitty," on Tuesday, but a short time later it was nowhere to be found on YouTube.
Why? At press time a spokesperson for the site could not be reached for comment (and neither could a rep for the singer), but the Asian-themed clip quickly drew complaints for what some dubbed its fetishization of Japanese culture. (It was also unclear at press time why the video was scrubbed from YouTube, since it does not appear to blatantly violate any of the site's restrictions on graphic violence, nudity or hate speech.)
Billboard called the "train wreck" video "unseemly," "an embarrassment in any language" and "gloriously ghastly," saying that the presence of "four identical, creepily expressionless Asian women" standing behind Lavigne for much of the clip was offensive to Asian culture.
Entertainment Weekly suggested that there are, "serious questions about whether it's offensive (expressionless Asian dancers, Tokyo-as-prop) or offensively obvious." Many drew comparisons to the controversy over No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani's backup dancers, the Harajuku Girls, a quartet of Japanese women who accompanied her on tour and appeared in several videos, including "Hollaback Girl" and "Wind It Up."
You can still watch the video on Lavigne's site, where you'll hear the Skrillex-meets-Kesha brostep-y cute rock anthem about the Kitty you love to love as the singer dances around with her guitar, eats sushi and drinks sake and holds a huge plate of cupcakes while wearing a cupcake skirt and garters.
At one point, Lavigne sings in Japanese while walking down a Tokyo street and waving to unseen fans, clawing at the camera as her dancers pull off robotic moves in the background.
While some media outlets took issue with the content, Lavigne's fans were predictably supportive of her latest creative endeavor. "Let me explain why she is getting heat for this: SHE DID SOMETHING DIFFERENT!" wrote LavigneStrong on Avril's site. "Waaaaa .. I almost died watching this video, no words can express how happy I am today," said another named Aileen.