Saturday, May 31, 2014

Video Of The Week: Arcade Fire

There's been a lot of talk surrounding this video since last weekend, ranging from the most idiotic things put to words in May to points that needed be addressed, but the most angry folks were undoubtedly the American LGBT community, and I guess the elephant in the room here is Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace, who not only released the best album of 2014 so far, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, which dealt exclusively with the issue at hand.

Here is her original tweet, which may be interpreted as a suggestion, for ''the next time'':

And here is where it gets out of hand:

The ''white actors in blackface'' line is the artistic equivalent to ''that's how the Nazis did it'' in political discussions, it's the end of the line. It's Godwin's Law, and it's futile.

I understand that a song called We Exist in which Arcade Fire chose to address the topic of transgenderism through its video, could have easily been a stronger affirmation to young trans folk dealing with the issue if the main character would have been portrayed by someone who had already come out as one. Heck, even a documentary-style video showing dozens of them, maybe with their coming-out date at the bottom of the screen - maybe a few doing so for the very first time on screen - would have been great. Maybe not.

But at this point, we know that film, as a medium, is limited in its scope and tells an incomplete story - it's why biopics are works of fiction, not documentary. And anyone who has lived through one year between the ages of 12 and 16 knows that what you see in films doesn't happen that way: people don't become murderers after one bad experience the eve of, or virgins don't lose their virginity in a cabin in the woods 15 minutes after meeting someone when they haven't been ready with the partner they just dumped after two years together. It's impossible to tell a complete tale in 100 minutes, let alone 30 (TV show), let alone 5 (music video). It's about make-believe, and pushing the narrative forward.

Even Harvey Pekar was disillusioned after the American Splendor movie came out, saying the actor portraying him (Paul Giamatti) was way better-looking than he was, but he understood it was a caricatural representation that needed to be watered down so that the heart of the story could be told.

Of all the responses to the criticism, I feel AF's Win Butler was the best, and so I give it to you in a huge chunk:

The entire interview is on The Advocate's website. In it, Butler addresses a lot of the stabs against it, and director David Wilson, who is gay, attacks the way the video was portrayed in the press upon its release (as attention-grabbers and click-magnets), the Huffington Post even misrepresenting it as ''Andrew Garfield does drag''.

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