No offense taken in Tokyo, where the controversial video has received positive reviews.
While Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty" video has raised the hackles of plenty of Western pundits, thanks to imagery that many perceive as culturally insensitive -- robotic, creepy girls in a cupcake-themed stereotype-mart that Billboard.com called "Japan fetishization" -- the view from Tokyo is far more sanguine. In fact, one could argue that the country -- whose music market is worth close to $3 billion, 16 to 18 percent of which is international repertoire (mostly Anglo-American) -- is so used to being misunderstood by the West that this latest pop barrage is hardly worth a flinch. Other Japanese citizens, meanwhile, view the candy cane fluff as a tribute, however shallow, to their homeland. The video logged 12 million views in a week.
Hiro Ugaya, a Tokyo-based journalist and media commentator, is one of those forgivers. "I assume that images of cultures outside of one's own in mass media are always different from the reality," he says, acknowledging that pop culture will reduce anything to a digestible pap. "When you're trying to reach the majority of consumers, images tend to be lowest common dominator."