There are a few things in life that you can always rely on to generate an outpouring of foaming-mouth anger from the majority of the Western world. For example, picketing funerals, posting selfies with passed out homeless people and kicking injured cats to death. However, nothing – and I mean nothing – comes close to the rage-paralysis experienced when Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger emerge from whatever castle their millions of dollars have bought them to aurally assault a totally unprepared public.
Earlier this week, Avril dropped the video for her new track "Hello Kitty", a popstep number co-written by her husband, a man whose music has historically been hated by anyone who doesn't own a pick-up truck or a gun. Headlines popped up the world over, declaring it "THE WORST THING EVER" and claiming it's full of racist Japanese stereotypes; outlets watched it "SO YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO"; and websites dissected it in GIF form to protect your vulnerable senses from experiencing both the audio and the visual components simultaneously.
Chad and Avril were so upset by the furore that the video was removed from YouTube, leaving only a shoddy ripped version. Yet, like a culturally insensitive Canadian Jesus, it soon rose again – this time in glorious HD form. Nothing will kill its spirit, not even internet copyright law.
So come with me now as I take a ride through this ephemeral slice of social discord to see if it really is the worst video ever.
We open with Avril shrieking some half-words in the sort of non-distinct pan-Asian vernacular that helped turn Mickey Rooney into a global superstar. Sadly, Mickey recently passed away. But the legacy of his seminal yellowface performance as I.Y Unioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's lives on here in Avril’s cold, dead eyes.
But is Avril actually a racist herself? Probably not. It's fun to talk shit about music videos but there comes a time where the internet has to hold its hands up and admit there's a difference between commodifying some cultural tropes and commiting hate crimes outside the Japan Centre.
But what about Canadian culture? The country has experienced a bit of a cultural renaissance in the past year. The mayor of Toronto has revealed himself to be a free-wheeling bohemian drug user, Drake has made crying a thing again and now Chad Kroeger has rocked up to finally show the world how this dubstep business is done, with a cut so fresh even Boomkat don't have it in stock yet.
Obviously there has to be a guitar in it too, to let everyone know Avril hasn't completely forgotten her roots of pretending to play guitars in music videos to make creepy white men happy.
When the "Come, come, kitty, kitty" hook kicked in I started to realise that it's actually a bit of a banger – a track Ke$ha would probably have nailed had she never started hanging out with Julian Casablancas. Still not really sure about the cake-skirt but let's face it, people are probably going to have more fun with this than they are with the latest Woodkid remix. I don't even care if that makes me a basic bitch.
Here's Avril sporting a very trendy undercut, as seen on the heads of totally relevant stars such as Mel B and Kelly Osbourne. When I look at this screen-grab I can't help but picture Chad Kroeger running his hands over the bristle and into her multicoloured locks, whispering sweet nothings as he goes.
Like, for instance, the pre-chorus from one of his hit songs: “You and me, sitting in a tree, F-U-C-K-I-N-G.”
At this stage, the video is as much a reflection of Japanese culture as an XL Dominos Texas BBQ pizza is of Campania. But when you’re broke and drunk, jumping on the Two for Tuesday offer is a lot cheaper than jumping on a flight to Napoli.
Speaking of Japan: sushi!
The video then cuts to black and white, as Avril strolls down the street – Harajuku girls in tow – waving to an invisible crowd. The whole thing is shot in that disorientating, jerky sped-up style that ties nu-metal and wobstep together in the visual language of EDM. Personally, it makes me feel travel sick and I fucking hate it.
The remaining minute of the video is a bit too frenetic to catalogue in screen-grabs. Even if no one wants to pay attention to it, you may be transfixed regardless, especially during the bits where Avril seems to just completely give up on trying to lip-sync in time with the music.
It’s not the worst video ever made but it's certainly not going to make any end-of-year lists – I mean, she’s no Banks. But trust me, you’re going to get awful tired of hearing everyone whinge about it for the next few months. And in the business of modern pop music, that's pretty much job done.