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« Cannes Diary Day 3: Mr Turner & Timbuktu | Main | Lukewarm Off Presses: Danish Girls, True Americans, Murderous Scots »
Friday
May162014

We Exist

Always up for movie stars headlining music videos. Here's Andrew Garfield in Arcade Fire's "We Exist"

 

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Reader Comments (10)

I would never have thought Andrew Garfield had this in him but I have to say I like the song a lot more than I like the video.

May 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Oh, lovely, he is playing a transwoman character but Win in the song refers to the character directly in male pronouns. That's not offensive, ignorant, and typically ally pandering at all.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I really like this video! Certainly the best thing Andrew Garfield has been attached to in his young career.
CMG - you can consider it pandering if you like; that can be an easy way to criticize anyone who offers support. But I don't think you're right about the pronouns. Listen again.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Seriously, want a humane and non-condescending approach to the same topic through a music video or song, the video for "Winner" by Pet Shop Boys is so much better.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7dBVXiydR8

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

"CMG - you can consider it pandering if you like; that can be an easy way to criticize anyone who offers support. But I don't think you're right about the pronouns. Listen again."

You still have Garfield being the face of this and the conflation of the drag and trans part was annoying enough in Dallas Buyer's Club. The song is a 'coming out' song but a gay one. This isn't just me believing this was the case on first listen, but Win Butler saying it, too.
http://www.timeout.com/london/music/arcade-fire-interview-hipster-means-absolutely-nothing

"There’s a song on “Reflektor” called “We Exist”, which is about a gay kid talking to his dad [“Daddy, it’s true, I’m different from you. But tell me why they treat me like this?”]. In dominant cultures there’s what’s normal, and everything else is abnormal."

It just feels like the whole aim is to get the reaction of, 'OMG Arcade Fire and Andrew Garfield are SO BRAVE.' When I mean pandering, I mean that and not the trans community. It's well-meaning, of course, but it is absolutely ignorant of the subject matter if the band either thinks trans and gay are that interchangeable or there is no difference to them. Had they gotten somebody who identified as trans for their video, because Arcade Fire is surely famous enough to not need other famous people in their videos, it would be a little more acceptable. But it is such a boring, we've been here before kind of queer story.

Sorry for the early morning ranting. I know plenty of people annoyed by this video.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG - totally fair points. I definitely think Arcade Fire relish attention here, but in terms of the motivation behind the video here, I trust their good intentions more than I suspect it's an attention grab.
I think it's kind of tricky to decide where to start being offended at perceived ignorance of trans issues. For as many problems as I had with DBC, the drag aspect seemed authentic. I feel like we've only really begun having acceptance and language for this, so there would have been a time where choosing to live life as a woman and living life in drag would have been the same thing, more or less. That seems accurate. I mean, I had to put together the difference between transvestite and transsexual for myself, and I was learning it in the 90s. The information wasn't exactly out there.
With the song, I feel like you can write a song about one thing, and later see that it's more universal. That seems fine, too. I've seen comments on this site (of all places!) that try to pretend that trans people don't exist, so I think linking the song to that problem has value.
Casting Garfield? I can see the good that would have come from having a trans person in the video, obviously, but that could have seemed exploitative as well. Having the star of a major superhero hit stand in there seems like a strong statement. Not a brave one, but a big, and I think, positive one.
All that to say, I don't think you're wrong exactly, but I can see value here. And this is more words than I'm used to spending on a music video.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Yeah, I understand the point and statement to be made. I also just am not a huge fan of the song. Lyricism has never been Win's strong suit to begin with and much of the songs on Reflektor are among the most disposable on the band's discography. The electronica and latter day The Clash influences in musicality save that album from being an outright disaster. But trans visibility in culture has increased from Laverne Cox to an actual trans frontwoman with Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, one of my favorite bands going back to being a teen. Against Me! is not that big of a band to tour arenas and have this kind of high budget for a music video, but lyrically have had songs- even before Grace came out- that are a pretty fascinating perspective on gender identity. I'd rather see Against Me! have that music video budget to tell that kind of story, which is all there in their songs than this, I guess.

It has been a while since I ranted about a music video. Even those Miley videos got a shrug from me.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG -- i'm kind of frustrated at the argument that people are always conflating drag and trans issues. for one thing, not everyone who dresses up in the opposite sex's clothing is trans so both things do exist but lines do get blurred and so what? It seems like whenever there's a drag narrative now people automatically equate it to a trans narrative (i haven't read these lyrics so i dont' know about this one) and then get angry when it does draggy things (like plays with pronouns willy nilly as if the lines of gender are always crossing and who knows which we're dealing with now) instead of being trans enough (which is the exact opposite in that it takes the use of pronouns very seriously and is easily offended when the wrong pronoun is used)

People are so touchy about this topic lately and i feel like the wrong battles are being fought because everywhere i turn it's sympathetic to the cause people being bludgeoned with 'you've offended me!' stuff/ it pains me to say it but i think the wrong battles are being fought... or at least the missiles are aimed at the wrong armies.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If you're talking about the whole RuPaul's drag race kerfuffle recently, I agree with you on that part. Both sides came off way too strong for me and both would benefit from watching Paris is Burning togther in harmony.

But the video does describe itself as, 'A young person's struggle with gender identity' which is a departure from what the origins of the actual song was.

May 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

CMG - it's not just the rupaul thing. The trans community also made Gabby Sidibe, a total friend to the LGBT community apologize for her use of "tranny" which was in no way a slur coming from her. It just saddens me is all. There should be more leeway for people in the community with the language they use together. Nobody likes to feel shamed. and when you attack your supporters, how can you make headway with your actual enemies? I'm just not sure i get the tactic.

May 17, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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