Remember the days when Lily Allen was getting people angry on the internet? Oh, they’re back again. Allen’s video for her new single ‘Hard Out Here’ is causing a mighty row this week, but not quite for the reasons intended.
Described by Allen as “a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture”, it gives Robin Thicke a good poke in the eye, while also pointing to old, white industry men for their role driving increasingly sexualised music videos.
Cue rumpus, but the debate has quickly become as much about Allen’s attitude to race as the music industry’s attitude to women. See the ‘Lily Allen’s Anti Black Feminism’ op-ed on Vice’s Noisey site for a focused blast of anger from culture critic Ayesha Siddiqi.
She believes that Allen’s video “manages to scapegoat not just rappers but black women for all the insecurities she’s been grappling with over her career… The non-white women in Allen’s video act as dehumanized proxies of patriarchy—assumed to have neither brains nor agency—with Allen aiming all her contempt at them sideways.”
Allen responded yesterday in a TwitLonger post: “It has nothing to do with race, at all… If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities.”
She’s also directed critics to ask the dancers from the video for their opinions, via their Twitter handles.
Why is Music Ally writing about this? Videos like Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ are created with YouTube in mind, not MTV, but just as interesting is the way the criticism of these videos is gathering pace online too. See the launch this week of Rewind&Reframe, a campaign to “challenge racism and sexism in music videos” with a specific focus on encouraging young women to speak out.
“Young women are tired of seeing this kind of video and they want to see a change. We hope that because it’s coming from young women who are supposed to be consumers of this stuff, that will drive change,” Rewind&Reframe’s Lia Latchford tells The Guardian.