Thinking about Avril Lavigne’s 'Hello Kitty'

Has anybody watched the latest music video by Avril Lavigne? As some of you would be aware, ‘Hello Kitty’ has been widely accused of racism and cultural appropriation. I’ve followed the controversy with curiosity, not least because it’s a part of philosophers’ job to consider when it’s appropriate to use normative terms to blame someone or something. It’s one thing to say that a singer is tasteless; it’s quite another to say she’s racist and indulges in cultural appropriation. One is an aesthetic claim; the other is a moral one.

 

Are critics right to morally blame Lavigne? I discussed this elsewhere, and the thought I’d like to share with you here is a separate one, namely, that one doesn’t need to be in a library or in a seminar room to reflect on moral questions. For example, if you’re in a bar and vaguely watching something random on screen such as ‘Hello Kitty’, you could start asking yourself questions. Why is this controversial? Who are offended, and why do they feel offended? What are the terms the critics have used to blame it? Are they right to use those terms? Did the singer respond? If she did, was that an adequate response? And if you find yourself agreeing with the critics, what changes would you like to see? In other words, what kind of pop culture would you like to see to emerge?

 

Of course, it’s not healthy to be contemplating moral questions 24/7. You should indeed stop contemplating if you decide to get on the dance floor, for example. But it’s worth remembering that we can begin a moral enquiry in a wide range of contexts. In fact, it might be that an ethically better world is the one in which people talk and think about moral questions in bars, restaurants and coffee shops, rather than in libraries and seminar rooms.

Views: 196

Comment

You need to be a member of Global Ethics Network to add comments!

Join Global Ethics Network

Comment by Evan O'Neil on May 5, 2014 at 12:35pm

The early rave scene promoted a philosophy of Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, so actually the dance floor is quite a relevant space to think about ethics and act accordingly.

Carnegie Council

Global Ethics Weekly: Millennials, Climate Change, & Foreign Policy, with Nikolas Gvosdev

Senior Fellow Nikolas Gvosdev discusses the generational divide in U.S. politics in the context of foreign policy and the environment. What are the international implications of initiatives like the Green New Deal? What would an "America First" environmental policy look like? And what happens if the U.S. continues to take a backseat on this issue?

A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, with Adam Gopnik

In his eloquent defense of liberalism, Adam Gopnik goes back to its origins and argues that rather than being emphasizing the role of the individual, "two principles, the principle of community and the principle of compromise," are at the core of the liberal project. Indeed, these are the essential elements of humane, pluralist societies; and in an age of autocracy, our very lives may depend on their continued existence.

Global Ethics Weekly: The Mueller Report & U.S. Foreign Policy, with Jonathan Cristol

A lot of the talk about the Mueller Report has focused on its political and legal implications, but how will it affect U.S. foreign policy? Adelphi College's Jonathan Cristol discusses the reactions of allies and adversaries to Trump's passivity in the face of massive Russian interference in the U.S. election and congressional inaction and public apathy concerning presidential corruption. Plus, he details recent U.S. policy moves on Iran and the significance of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's speech to U.S. Congress.

SUBSCRIBE TODAY

VIDEOS

SUPPORT US

GEO-GOVERNANCE MATTERS

© 2019   Created by Carnegie Council.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service


The views and opinions expressed in the media, comments, or publications on this website are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions held by Carnegie Council.