New Books Network

This cat has a complicated history. In addition to filling stationery stores across the globe with cute objects festooned with little whiskers and bowties,...

This cat has a complicated history. In addition to filling stationery stores across the globe with cute objects festooned with little whiskers and bowties, Hello Kitty has inspired tributes from Lisa Loeb and Lady Gaga, and artistic renderings from Hello Kitty Nativity to Hello (Sex) Kitty: Mad Asian Bitch on Wheels. In Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek across the Pacific (Duke University Press, 2013), Christine Yano offers a fascinating study of Hello Kitty as a global commodity and “world idol.” Focusing on the period from 1998-present, the book considers the iconic spread and transformation of Sanrio’s character in the context of marketing strategies based on creating an ideal of “happiness” sustained through gift-mediated sociality and the production of nostalgia. Yano considers the Hello Kitty phenomenon as a process of “pink globalization” in which Kitty becomes a cultural “wink,” an invitation to play, a friend, a mediator of the realms of childhood and adult desire. The narrative is grounded in a series of ethnographic accounts of fans and critics of the global icon, including artists, collectors, Sanrio employees, and others. Enjoy!