Hello Kitty Goes Under the Microscope

This weekend, a panel discussion at the Japanese American National Museum takes a critical look at the iconic hallmark of Japanese pop culture
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Since its birth in 1974, Japanese design company Sanrio’s Hello Kitty brand has literally taken on a life of its own. Today, the anthropomorphic, little white cat with the red bow is emblazoned on everything from lunch boxes to smart cars and has even inspired two theme parks in Japan, a TV show, and multiple video games. The Japanese American National Museum’s current exhibition Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty is an homage to the 40-year-old style icon and a fascinating trip down a pop culture memory hole of obscure products released under the Hello Kitty brand.

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As part of the show, JANM is hosting a panel discussion that takes a critical look at Hello Kitty’s impact on the world and Japanese kawaii culture (a subculture celebrating all things cute and cuddly), the aesthetic it embodies. Moderated by exhibition curator Christine Yano (author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific), the panel features L.A. based artist Jaime Scholnick, who has incorporated Hello Kitty into her artwork in the past, performance artist Denise Uyehara, and University of Missouri professor Laura Miller who is an expert on Japanese language and culture.

Hello Kitty Critiqued starts February 22 at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum. Guests are advised to RSVP at rsvp@janm.org or 213.625.0414. Tickets are $5.

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