Last week, The Arcade Fire released the music video for their song “We Exist” casting The Amazing Spider-Man himself, Andrew Garfield to play the role of a transgender individual in the video. After the video had premiered, Against Me! singer, Laura Jane Grace, who happens to be a transgender individual herself, took to Twitter to express her distaste for the band and their director to cast Garfield rather than asking a transgender actor to portray the role.
During an interview with The Advocate this past weekend, frontman Win Butler responded to Grace’s comments on the matter saying that the band were inspired to write the song upon meeting gay Jamaican kids in Jamaica where they worked on their recently released album, Reflektor. An excerpt from the article can be read below.
“There is a very kind of homophobic undercurrent, even in a lot of popular music and dancehall music, where there is a lot of violence against gay people,” says Butler. “And we were in Kingston, and we went to this kind of film event and met some gay Jamaican kids and just kind of talked to them and realized that they were constantly under the threat of violence. For me, I get kind of used to being in this sort of extremely liberal bubble — where we have Whole Foods and people are tolerant. And you can kind of trick yourself into thinking that the world is that way. For me, it was really eye-opening to hang out with these kids who, if they were going to dress differently or express who they were, there was this real tension.”
Grace, not to be one to hold back, spoke out about it on Twitter today to respond to the band’s response.
“this article is hella problematic. To start with there’s the fact that Win says “he” and Wilson says “she” … 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? my main problem with the video isn’t even casting it’s 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”. lastly, I really genuinely am a fan of the band. The Suburbs is a perfect album.”
We can only assume that this ping-pong game won’t end here, but watch the video below and tell us what you think about the casting.