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Against Me! Singer Rips Apart Arcade Fire’s Defence Of ‘We Exist’ Clip

Written by Greg Moskovitch on May 28, 2014

Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace has fired back at the “problematic” response offered by Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler and director David Wilson after the frontwoman lambasted Arcade Fire’s We Exist clip for casting non-trans actor Andrew Garfield in a transgender role.

Speaking to The Advocate, Butler reiterated his stance that the song is a gay rights anthem and explained that it was written in response to the homophobic culture the band witnessed during a trip to Jamaica. Butler also defended the choice of casting Garfield in the clip, saying, “For a gay kid in Jamaica to see the actor who played Spider-Man in that role is pretty damn powerful, in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Wilson, who directed the clip, said that he did consider casting a trans actor in the lead role, but chose Garfield after he was moved by the actor’s passion and commitment. The response has not satisfied Grace, herself transgender and who compared the We Exist clip to blackface.

“This article is hella problematic,” began Grace on Twitter. “To start with there’s the fact that Win says ‘he’ and Wilson says ‘she’.” The singer continued: “The implication that a homeless Jamaican LGBT youth living in a sewer 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 like so WTF?”

Grace said her “main problem with the video isn’t even casting,” but stereotyping. “Like why does Garfield cry about shaving their head to then put on a wig when they have gorgeous hair? Why does Garfield go to the shittiest bar ever to drink domestic beer and dance with bigot rednecks?”

“And the idea that the band playing Coachella is their Mecca of acceptance and validation. Phfff. As if. If the song was called anything else I wouldn’t have even had a problem with it it’s called We Exist and there is literally no signs of that existence represented. Should have been called They Exist.”

The singer concluded by saying that she is a fan of Arcade Fire, calling their 2010 album The Suburbs “perfect.” She explained that the reason The Suburbs is “great” and the We Exist clip “sucks,” is “when you come from the perspective you’re representing, it’s truth and powerful.”

Watch: Arcade Fire – We Exist

Gallery: Arcade Fire
 – Qantas Credit Union Arena, Sydney 28/01/14

Photos by Yael Stempler

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