Laura Jane Grace Critiques Arcade Fire’s Defense of ‘We Exist’ Video
"Should have been called 'They Exist,'" Against Me! leader tweets
Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace wasn’t satisfied with Arcade Fire’s explanation of their “We Exist” video, which stars Andrew Garfield in a wig and a dress and came billed as the “story of one young person’s struggle with gender identity.”
Grace, who is transgender, had called out Reflektor band last week for casting The Amazing Spider-Man’s star instead of “an actual ‘Trans’ actor.” Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler and the video’s director, Dan Wilson, in an interview with The Advocate, pointed to the song’s inspiration in the lives of gay Jamaican youth and Garfield’s passion for the project. Now, Grace has taken issue with their defense.
The singer, whose band released the Essential Transgender Dysphoria Blues earlier this year, tweeted over the weekend about the article, calling it “hella problematic.” She pointed out that Butler refers to Garfield’s character in the video as “he,” while Wilson says “she” — a meaningful distinction in the transgender community, as coverage of former U.S. soldier Bradley Manning’s decision to live as a woman named Chelsea helped underscore. Grace also slammed what she called Butler’s “implication that a homeless Jamaican LGBT youth is going to feel empowered because … a cis, straight white male actor in movies they can’t afford to see stars in a music video they’ll never watch? That’s so like wtf?”
“If the song was called anything else I wouldn’t have even had a problem with it,” Grace wrote. “It’s called ‘We Exist’ and there is literally no signs of that existence represented. Should have been called ‘They Exist.'”
That said, Grace’s differences with Arcade Fire over their video shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. She, “I really genuinely am a fan of the band,” calling 2010’s The Suburbs “a perfect album.” She added: “That’s why The Suburbs is great and the video sucks, though… When you come from the perspective you’re representing, it’s truth and powerful.”
What’s more, after the exchange above, Grace tweeted about hearing from transgender musician Our Lady J, who coached Garfield for the video. “Just got done talking w/ @ourladyj about her involvement in the @arcadefire video,” Grace wrote. “Her perspective really made me think about it differently.”
Read the tweets below, and scroll down to watch the video.
— Laura Jane Grace (@LauraJaneGrace) May 26, 2014