This is going to be short and sweet because revision has taken over my life. 18 days and 5 exams to go until I’ve completed my degree (well, unless I fail and have to return…)! Good luck to everyone in the same boat!!
Again, this is not *overly* feminist, but it’s written by someone who’s blog entries are called Feministy Shit, so… yeah.
Part 4: We Exist
I’m going to get straight to the point. You HAVE to watch the new Arcade Fire music video, ‘We Exist’. It was released yesterday (16/05/2014) and it is simply phenomenal. Not only is the song ridiculously catchy (it’s on my revision playlist and I have to fight the urge to dance to it in public places), but it deals with an incredibly important issue in a simple and effective way.
Andrew Garfield plays the role of a young individual struggling to come to terms with their gender identity and we follow them through the day staring from getting dressed and ready to go out, to being subject to discrimination and violence in public. She (my interpretation was that the character in question was a transgender individual, though it could also be argued that they are a young man experimenting with cross dressing; either way they do not appear to conform to the gender binary imposed by society) goes to a bar where she is subject to transphobic discrimination leading to her being harassed and physically abused by a group of individuals in the bar, but at the moment where she is about to be violently attacked, the scene cuts to her dancing euphorically. The dance is so primal, free, passionate, very ‘dance like no one is watching’ and almost transcendent that you can’t help but feel pretty damn emotional. It’s really empowering to watch.
I’m not going to bother to explain the rest of it, just watch it!
While the video is fabulous, it is an artistic interpretation and to be taken with a pinch of salt. Sure we could sit and criticise and pick this video apart, but it was clearly made with positive intentions and a strong message. It ‘outs’ the overwhelming amount of transphobia present in today’s society but while the video plays to stereotypes (the people who pick on her, the men with beards and crop tops etc), it puts a message across and it puts it across very clearly: ‘Transphobia is NOT okay’. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a good message.
The fact that Andrew Garfield is shamelessly playing a transgender individual is another positive step. Andrew Garfield is fast becoming a household name across generations for his role as The Amazing Spider Man and, by standing up for transgender individuals, will hopefully help his fans see that being transphobic, not transgender, is what is shameful. I know it could be argued that using an actual transgender individual would have been a more striking move from Arcade Fire (and it would have been awesome, yes), but given Garfield’s fame and social presence at this time, I think it actually will be watched by more people and hence spread the message further.
Combining this with the lyrics which seem to be to be discussing how LGBTQ individuals are often shunned and excluded from society, and due to this their rights are often ignored, I think this is a really positive step towards ending such discrimination.
Down on their knees
Begging us please
Praying that we don’t exist
Cheers, Arcade Fire and Andrew Garfield, for all the awesome. Have a congratulatory pint on me.