who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?

Until this week, Avril Lavigne had ranked alongside Cole Porter and Lennon/McCartney as a songsmith of the first order. A veritable musical genius, even. Her videos, meanwhile, made the work of François Truffaut look like a pile of puke.

I’m basing that conclusion on the level of vitriol being hurled Ms. Lavigne’s way in the wake of what many are daring to call a substandard single and video. Personally, I’ve paid little/no attention to the Sk8er Boi singer’s career since she did her one great song a dozen years ago. (What was the name of that again?) Yet, the betrayal seemingly felt by discerning critics suggests her subsequent work deserves a listen. Everything, that is, except Hello Kitty.

How else does one explain the anti-social media’s obsession with a perceived unfortunate misstep?

“Everyone’s trashing Avril’s new video.”

That was one concise headline. Everyone. You. Me. Kim Jong-un. Everyone on the planet detests the new Avril Lavigne video, which must be disconcerting for the camera-spokesperson, model and occasional musician who only wanted to make a hit record.

“Worst video ever?” That’s another one; though, turning it into a question cleverly dodges any need to make a point.

Evidently, the anti-Avril outcry was so great, so devastating, that the video has been pulled from YouTube, only three days after its arrival on the cat-friendly site. (Not that anything is ever truly pulled from YouTube for long. It’s still there.)

So let’s have a look.

I love it. Best thing ever.

There. That should counter some of the claims. At least now they can say everyone but the Wig hates it. I have no issue with going on record as stating that Avril Lavigne’s new video is not the worst thing ever. In fact, it’s no worse (or not much worse) than the average pop song. And as we all know, if you’re not the worst, you must be the best. After all, never in the history of civilization has hyperbole been more important than it is now. Hence, the only way to counter a claim that something is the worst ever, is to insist that it’s the best ever. It just makes sense.

(Kind of like Windmill Development Group touting its proposal for the Domtar lands by claiming it will be “the world’s most sustainable community.” Difficult to imagine there isn’t a remote fishing or farming village somewhere on the planet that would rank slightly higher on the sustainability scale  than a retail-and-condos combination that welcomes automobiles. But now you know better.)

But back to Hello Kitty.

And you know, the more I listen to it, the less I hate it. For now. Call it the George Harrison effect. See, other than All Things Must Pass, with which the man had a score to settle, pretty much everything Beatle George did on his own was, well, let’s call it uneven. But if you listen to any one of those albums a dozen times or so in succession, you’ll come away humming what you believe are some genuinely catchy little tunes. Especially if you spent money it.

True, Avril Lavigne is no George Harrison. (I think we all can agree on that.) But I don’t quite get the level of hostility brewing towards the minor artist’s new song and video. I mean, have these people neither seen nor heard what’s currently gracing the charts? Can they not pick on someone with a decent track record to protect? Is this just sour grapes because Avril married Nickelback guy? Have millennial music reviewers never forgiven her for ditching that cool Punky Brewster look?

The video is racist. It’s sexist. Avril is copying Gwen Stefani’s sound and Skrillex’s look. And so forth. Many, many straws are being grasped at in the rush to condemn Hello Kitty. Much, for example, has been made of the notion that Lavigne’s reference to “Kitty” may well be a double-entendre. You know, kind of like every lyric to every rock and roll song. Ever.

Perhaps it’s the new prudery. (Thank you, Stephen Harper!) Heck, even our national symbol is today considered too racy to give its name to a Canadian history magazine (forcing a name change that likely decimated the mag’s online hits among the coveted demographic that is males aged 13 to 90).

All in all, it’s a bit of a puzzler. Surely, there are more important subjects to discuss, like Ukraine, or the murder trial of a former Olympian half a world away, or the search for that missing plane and its pilot Amelia Earhart.

But it seems bloggers and gossip-mongers smell blood on this one. Heck, they’ve already succeeded at getting the video pulled from YouTube. (Though, again…) Perhaps jaded arts reporters feel their hatchet-work is now done when it comes to Bieber and have moved on to the next name on their hit list. Perhaps it’s a slow news week. But the Schadenfreude emanating from writers and critics that apparently deemed Ms. Lavigne’s previous work worthy of serious discussion, is deafening. And that additional sound you hear is Q‘s media panel scrambling to the studio to discuss the media’s favourite topic: Whether media are devoting too much time to discussing a particular topic.

Now there’s a topic for discussion. If we can tear ourselves away from a pop-music video that has the audacity to be neither the best nor the worst thing ever.


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