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Against Me! Singer Likens Arcade Fire Video To Blackface

Written by Greg Moskovitch on May 23, 2014

Laura Jane Grace, frontwoman for Floridian punk rockers Against Me!, has criticised Arcade Fire‘s latest video for We Exist — a song frontman Win Butler has described as a gay rights anthem — comparing its use of a non-transgender actor playing a trans role to the racist practice of blackface.

“Dear [Arcade Fire], maybe when making a video for a song called We Exist you should get an actual ‘Trans’ actor instead of Spider-Man?” she tweeted. The clip at the centre of Grace’s ire features British actor Andrew Garfield playing a trans character who escapes a barroom assault.

According to Rolling Stone, Win Butler described the song as concerning “a gay kid talking to his dad” and coming out. Before the band’s performance of the track at the recent Coachella festival, Butler introduced the song by saying, “The right to marry anyone you want is a human rights issue.”

But Grace is adamant that the We Exist video “inaccurately plays on and perpetuates stereotypes.” After one of her followers challenged the singer by asking if gay actors should then be barred from portraying straight characters, Grace shot back, “White actors in black face cool then too?”

However, responding to another fan, Grace joked that she “would have had no complaint” if Arcade Fire’s video starred Garfield’s fellow Spider-Man actor Tobey Maguire. Grace also retweeted a fan who informed the singer that Garfield was coached for the role by transgender artist Our Lady J.

It’s not the first time Grace, who came out as transgender in the pages of Rolling Stone in 2011, has made the blackface comparison. When asked by a fan what she thought of Jared Leto‘s Oscar-winning performance as a transgender woman in Dallas Buyers Club, she admitted that she hadn’t seen the movie, but felt “it’s a little insulting though, similar to an actor performing in black-face.”

Watch: Arcade Fire – We Exist

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