Some fans love Pharrell’s 'It Girl' video; others call him a pedophile

By Audrey Akcasu

Last summer, the international pop-star Pharrell Williams rocked Japan with his single, “Happy,” which launched countless fan-made remakes across the country. Joining in with the “happy” Japanese people, he has since collaborated with renowned artist Takashi Murakami to make a remix of virtual star Hatsune Miku’s video “Last Night, Good Night (Re:Dialed).” This time around, however, Pharrell is trying to bring fun Japanese culture to the rest of the world.

Pharrell once again mingled with Murakami in creating the video for his song “It Girl.” As director, Murakami managed to bring in almost every facet of Japanese pop-culture. Let alone the bright, flashing colors and pop-out words (in both English and Japanese), the video fluctuates from 8-bit video game style, to rotoscoping, and to good ole Japanese animation and back again. It’s a lot to look at, if not borderline overwhelming.

One cool aspect of the video is that it contains some nice scenes of a typical Japanese summer that uninformed Westerners wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. The appearance of Pharrell in 8-bit and anime-style was kind of cute too – except the part where he peeps on bikini-clad anime-girls with binoculars.

While Japanese and Westerners alike were surprised by the excessive cute and moe images, they reacted quite differently. The Japanese seem to appreciate Murakami’s “art” of combining rough hip-hop culture with overly-cute otaku culture.

Westerners on the other hand, are either rejoicing over Pharrell’s open-mind and creativity or are disgusted and now see him as a creeping pedophile (again, the binoculars). Others were displeased for other reasons, seeing the video as doing anime, and many of its fans, a dishonor by inaccurately portraying “typical” anime.

I actually got a little caught up in reading the vehement and often explicit arguments going on in the comment section on YouTube between the pro- and against-Pharrell viewers. Check out some of the (more appropriate) comments from English-speaking viewers:

The against-Pharrell viewers:


“This is actually disgusting. And please STOP with the ‘how do you know it’s an underage girl!!’ … This is gross and I don’t see how anyone can support it. Ewww.”

“There are so many things wrong with this video…”

“He looks like a pedofile (sic) stalking little girls lol.”

“This is the Anime I stayed away from.”

“Dude, you’re ruining anime for people.”

The pro-video viewers:

“This is awesome, I give you major props for this. It’s creative and something you like, so never be afraid to share it with others. :)”

“Now I love this guy more. ( ̄▽ ̄)ノ_彡☆Respect!!”

“Thank you Pharrell for being original and for loving the anime, you rocks bro! (✧∀✧)”

I can come to understand how the scantily clad, long-legged, big-breasted girls of anime, and those other anime girls who might look younger than their years, could cause some unaccustomed/uninformed people to be offended by the video. I have to say though, I’ve watched my fair share of anime over the years and the cute, pig-tailed blond that Pharrell’s character becomes infatuated with seems a little pre-adolescent-looking to me too.

Source: NetLab

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There is no "some" about the first part. MOST people loved it. An overwhelming majority of comments, blog post, and news articles has had nothing but good things to say. I think this is only the 5th out of hundreds of blog post/news sites to mention pedohile? Seems kind of ridiculous to humor the opinion of the small minority. I knew from the first time I saw the video an hour after it was released that this would happen. Let's clear things up now: IT'S NOT PEDOPHILIA! Even of he said he wanted to have sexual contact with her, it still wouldn't be. Why? A pedophile is someone with a primary attraction to children. What is the definition of children? A child. Child? "A person below the age of majority." KEYWORD: PERSON! Not drawing, not person-like, just PERSON. A person is a human. Are Anime characters humans? Nope! So is this pedo? Nope! Move on.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Amazing what raises peoples' ire. Gun control? Drugs? Terrorists? Infrastructure? Hunger? Gangs? This vid doesn't even make the top 20.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Ha ha ha,

William likes anime , great for him, but this video contains stalking, pimpin' , sugar daddy'n ,young girl desires , and the lyrics does not help either:

When you bite on my lip And hold my hand, and moan again, I'm a hold that a$$

I would say , the person that directed this video (Takashi Murakami) is definite a Pedophile.

enough said!

0 ( +9 / -9 )

They are drawn and stylized girls, you can't consider them like real people, come on. In this case, how much pedophilia we saw in tons of cartoons? I mean, also in Disney cartoons. In Aladdin the princess, who is only 16 years old, kisses Jafar, who is a very old man. That scene was disgusting but everyone accepted it because it's only a cartoon.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Much ado about nothing.

2 ( +5 / -4 )

"uninformed Westerners"

I'm not sure why, but I found that expression more unsettling than the video.

1 ( +3 / -2 )


Genuine question:

How do you know the princess is only sixteen in Aladdin?

I must have watched it a hundred times with my kids, and I don't remember her age being mentioned....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@lucabrasi: Jasmine says she is 16 years old to his father in one of the first scenes.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Now I remember, thank you.

But doesn't she say she has to be married before her sixteenth birthday?

So she's actually fifteen....

1 ( +1 / -0 )


Seem to be one of those 8/16 bit hybrid games that never took off with some obvious rips in it.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/09/Fantasy_zone_arcadeflyer.PNG Opa-Opa (Fantasy-Star) type happy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The little girl represented in video is actually representing the audience, and wast majority of that audience are teen girls, so , this video is centered around them, its fun video where they are playing , and enjoying in fireworks, and itd itd .

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I take great imaginary offense.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@lucabrasi: yeah, you're right. She is actually 15.

Here the Disney princesses ages.


-1 ( +1 / -2 )

First of all, I agree with the first poster that wrote that there are very few people who object to this video. I don't see "pedophilia" in this at all.

It's just a fact. Young girls are pretty and cute. Teenage girls are also pretty and cute and slowly become sexier as they become older teenagers.

This is naturally how humans mature. I don't hesitate to say if a young teenager is cute or pretty. They are. If a boy or a teenage boy is handsome and good looking - he is. There's no "pedophilia" involved here.

The maturing of a young human being is a reality that many in the west have somehow twisted and become ashamed of. The word "pedophillia" has been tweaked and thrown around for far too many things and situations.

The anime girls in this video are cute and pretty. Good. I'm glad Japan doesn't have a problem with this. I hope they never do.

11 ( +11 / -1 )

He's a lolicon! lol

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Just saw Pharrell's video....I LOVED IT!!

Nothing wrong with it at all!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Video is better than the song. I like some of Pharrell's songs and his producing with the Neptunes but sometimes he sounds like a wannabe Curtis Mayfield.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

""uninformed Westerners"

Actually, you'd be more apt to find "informed" Westerners the ones who are against this kind of sexualization of little girls -- they're the ones who know how easily it flies and is accepted here.

yakimo: "Western media just loves the word pedophile..."

Better than loving pedophiles themselves, or defending them as 'part of the culture'.

Anyway, haven't seen the video yet, so I can't say, but having just been to the convenience store a few minutes ago and seen all the magazines with young girls in bikinis at the front of the racks while I was grabbing some frozen stuff, I'm sure there's a reason some people are against what they see -- and there are the lyrics, as Bad2DBone points out.

-10 ( +3 / -12 )

Watched the video linked above, nothing of interest there.

As was said nothing pedophilic there, drawing style is obviously by someone not skilled copying Japanese style.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

in japan its big part of their culture , learn to love it or second option is to leave. plain and simple

0 ( +2 / -2 )

yakimo: "learn to love it or second option is to leave. plain and simple"

That argument doesn't fly if you're trying to bring the culture to other nations, as Pharrell is trying to do here. You often here about this kind of thing: "kawaii ambassadors" being labelled as bizarre if not a little sick in terms of sexualization, or "tarento" like Hard Gay being not at all well received by non-Japanese here or overseas (if they were unlucky enough to see it), and then you get a similar reaction by people such as yourself: "it's part of the culture! If you don't like it, leave!" Heck, just last week on a thread with about Amazon.jp selling kiddy-porn you had Japanese defending it as 'cute'! Yes, a LITTLE GIRL showing her panties to the camera is 'cute' to them. If you're defending that kind of thing as "a big part of their culture" you are really not doing the culture a service.

As for this video, I doubt it's as bad as the amazon example, but if it's as some people say than I think that's a shame.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

For 99% of japanese people this video has nothing negative on it. only western media makes a fuss out of it.

9 ( +10 / -0 )

Most westerners wouldn't care about this video either. Only the over-PC crowd who need to find a problem with everything.

5 ( +7 / -1 )

Sweet video! Deal with it!!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Nothing offensive here, just awfully bad taste!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Must be a big shock for westerners to suddenly being confronted with so much moe anime. haters will be haters. Actually the video is quite OK. If you think this is tasteless you need to get your head checked! Uh oh, there are some young looking drawn girls in bikinis! God forbid! Not every culture applies to your occidental conformities of morale and sinning.

What was positively surprise is that the music isn't bad. He doesn't use crappy auto tune like countless others (or at least not overdone). That's a big plus!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

if you think this vid is in poor taste and its portraying girls in the wrong manner, well take a look or DONT look at Beyonce,s DVDS thats pure filth and porn far far worse than this vid by WF

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Agree many of the in vids and shows by Beyonce, Gaga, Cyrus, etc are way more explicit and leave nothing to the imagination.

Sometimes wonder if they want to sell a song, their body or whatever. Grew up in the 70's & 80's and we had sexy singers both male and female but the music was foremost.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

You can see the video on you tube. It's great! I have no idea what the issue is here. Haven't y'all ever seen anime before? This one's pretty innocent, pure, and sweet. The male protagonist seems to be roghly the same age as the it girl. What the hell is the problem here? Puritans shouldn't be watching anime or music videos and expressing unrealistic views on humans.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The anime actually is pretty accurate in representing a beach in Japan in summer. I guess this might be disturbing to Puritans, the Taliban, and Islamic State, but I think it's quite a bit closer to heaven than to hell.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

drawing style is obviously by someone not skilled copying Japanese style.

Drawing style is by artist Takashi Murakami and Japanese Anime Studio NAZ. Perhaps ya can't tell.

only western media makes a fuss out of it

It's a Western song artist for primarily Western consumption.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Am I the only who thinks that people should complain about the PV "Anaconda", that is almost porn with REAL girls, seen by millions of people, also little kids, rather than obsess over cartoon girls in bikini?

The world is really messed up.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


Being married to an animator I can tell, this is pure quality.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You can see the video on you tube.

You can see the video on this very page (embedded from YouTube).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Some people complain about the fact Japanese are closed and think their culture can't be understood by the foreigners. But, someway, Japanese are right. If they draw a young girl in bikini, because of the particular style of drawing (that is absolutely irrealistic) well they are perverts. If Disney draws sexy teenagers half-naked like Jasmin, everything is normal. If in Japan there are groups like AKB48, this means Japanese are pervert. If in the US you have "talents" like Miley Ray Cyrus, it's normal. If Norway kills whales, the press remains rather quiet. If Japan kills whales, it's a continuous Japan bashing, with some people on internet saying "they deserved the tsunami" and racist things like these.

Western double standards is what makes Japanese feel insecure about themselves and misunderstood, bringing them to increase their need to be isolated from the rest of the world.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

No big deal. In a few days time those who kicked up a stink will have found something or somebody else to whine about.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

come on.... get a life people... its not like this guy is trying to make some sort of political statement. He's just having some fun and mixing anime in with it. As for him being a "pedophile", what did you expect... did you want him to dress these girls in business suits and throw in some gray hair. Lighten up!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The video is Lolita-ish. You could even say it's a little creepy, but pedophile, no way. Makes me think they don't even know the meaning of the word. The PC crowd are too sensitive, and need to chill out.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Love the music & video is definitely "different". Agree that the main pigtail girl needs to age by another 5-6 years.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Awesome video. Love anime and happy that he chose this style, I mean heck I got a fever and the only prescription is more cow bell!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Song: it's aight, it's Pharrell. Video: It's cute and aight. I like some of the art. Especially the pixel art. I'd give it a 6/10. Just because it has almost nothing to do with the lyrics.

If you want to use anime in your video that's cool but I highly doubt Pharrell has experienced any of these Japanese summer culture things. Going to a festival or eating shaved ice. Kind of lame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pharrell is a bit odd. Get real famous for one pretty average song and has siad and sung plenty of pretty creepy stuff. a big hat doesn't make him talented.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Get real famous for one pretty average song

That's what made him a household name, but he already had a pretty solid degree of fame previous to that, from his work with the Neptunes, and then in particular his singing in 'Get Lucky' by Daft Punk, which was one of the major summer hits in 2003.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pharrell has been pretty famous in music for over a decade. Some of you not into American pop/hip hop/R&B may not know but he has a huge award shelf...I remember some of his big hits under his production teams in the late 90s. And the video was cool. Stop looking for negativity everywhere.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here's the New Yorker magazine's take on it:


What are we to make of Pharrell Williams’s latest video for “It Girl,” which features the hip-hop star singing, “Hold my hand, and moan again, I’ma hold that ass” to images of what appears to be a prepubescent cartoon girl? Although seemingly well received (it has been viewed more than two and a half million times on YouTube since its release on September 30th), the video has left some American critics struggling to describe the experience of watching it. Pitchfork lauded the work as “an animated epic,” while a more cautious Rolling Stone dubbed it, incongruously, “Pokemon-inspired.” It seems to have bewildered fans, too. Debates have sprung up on various blogs: “Why did he choose such young characters?” wondered one viewer on Tumblr, who declared the video “creepy.”

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah....whatever. I see no problem here even if there is a problem.

No 1: I don't like being spammed with all those colors. I don't even have seizures but I fear I might have one if I keep watching.

I personally like seeing human beings. I still believe God got it right. He made man in his image. So I don't really care for animated girls.

Furthermore, it makes real girls all the more disappointing. Girls are just never going to be this genki in real life.

Yes, Modern feminism is on the march and as a man I feel attacked by it. There's no sitting on the fence on that topic but it will NOT push me to focus on virtual beauties.

Sorry but I turned this video off almost immediately.

So how old are these girls in the video? I don't know. We'll never know cause they can say whatever they want. However, we can determine who the target audience is. The statistics will roll in.

Personally I am against Japan's borderline pedophile culture so I only hope that this project gets very little attention in the U.S.

Sorry Pharrell but I'm not HAPPY about this video. That's not because of the debate. It just sucks in my opinion.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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