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I know, I know. It’s just a clothing line! Lighten up! And it’s so kawaii as the ads keep telling me, forcing the word on me like a pacifier to the lips of a crying, reluctant babe. (Wouldn’t be surprised if Gwen Stefani had tried to trademark the Japanese word for “cute” some time in the last 5 years or so. She’s already pretty much got “Harajuku”–the name of a Tokyo neighborhood–locked down legally.) And look, the Harajuku Mini for Target children’s clothes collection, which launches Sunday online and in stores, is “kawaii,” in a “What if a little panda cub who was part skater-punk threw up and it looked like lollipops and rainbows?” sorta way.
But, you know, I can forgive, but I can’t forget. Wait, who am I kidding? I can’t forgive either! Because when I see this ad plugging Gwen Stefani’s latest business venture…
…all I see is this:
Filed under: Bizarre Misappropriation of Asian Culture by Talentless White Girls, Children's Clothing, Clothing, Free the Harajuku Girls, Gwen Stefani, Harajuku Haters, Harajuku Lovers, Harajuku Mini for Target, Kawaii, Panda Vomit, Target, This is Bullshit
According to the NY Times, Hello Kitty is, at age 36, over-the-hill.
Back in 2002, when Kitty was pushing 30, she lost her spot as Japan’s top-grossing character and, in the words of the Times story, “has never recovered.” Apparently the world of cartoon characters is as ageist as Hollywood, governed by an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality:
Sanrio has tried to keep Hello Kitty up to the times: sensing a move away from Japan’s love affair with the cute, or “kawaii” aesthetic, it has pushed an edgier look for the cat in the last three years, using as much black as pink.
Still, a sense of crisis is evident at the Tokyo offices of Sanrio, where 30 designers, led by Ms. Yamaguchi, are charged with developing new characters. At periodic product meetings, each designer presents as many as 20 characters for consideration by Ms. Yamaguchi.
So what’s a girl over 35 like Hello Kitty to do?
Filed under: Ageism, Ageist, Being Put Out to Pasture, Cougars, Cultural Relevance, Goodbye Kitty, Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty Old, Invisible Women, Kawaii, Older Women, Over the Hill, Sanrio, This Sucks, Women Over 35
The very first Hello Kitty merch, Coin Purse, 1974
Name: Hello Kitty (née Kitty White)
Born: November 1, 1974
Known for: Presiding over a $5 billion dollar empire, pioneering kawaii style, having no mouth, that fucking red bow, serving as Japan’s tourism ambassador, being everyone’s favorite pussy–from children to club kids to celebrities to haters–and decorating everything from guns to bongs to maxi pads to vibrators.
What explains Hello Kitty’s enduring popularity?
In an effort to raise its cultural profile in the world, Japan has named three young women ambassadors of “cute.”
The three women represent archetypes borrowed from anime, manga, and street culture: a schoolgirl, a Lolita, and a girl described as a “fashion leader” in the Harajuku district. (Oh how I long to rip that crazy weave off the Harajuku chick and throw it to a feral cat.) At a press conference announcing their appointment Thursday, Tsutomu Nakagawa, the head of the cultural affairs division at the Foreign Ministry, explained the purpose of these so-called ambassadors:
“We want people abroad to know these kind of people exist in Japan and to feel close to them.“
Okay, but who at this point doesn’t know that “these kind of people” exist in Japan?
- People who live under rocks.
- People who live in caves.
- People who have never heard of the internet.
- People who have never heard of television.
- People without a pervy boner in their body (yeah, right).
And, more to the point, how many in the world actually think that only “these kind of people” exist in Japan?