Arcade Fire – “We Exist”
Arcade Fire’s new music video “We Exist” featuring actor Andrew Garfield from The Amazing Spider Man is facing criticism due to Garfield’s portrayal as a transwoman.
“We Exist” documents a story about a transwoman, played by Garfield, and the violence she encounters in a bar where she is attacked before taking the stage with Arcade Fire at Coachella.
Some feel Garfield—a cisgender, heterosexual male—was a poor choice for the video. One of the most vocal critics include lead singer for Against Me! Laura Jane Grace. Laura came out as a transwoman in 2012.
Lead singer for Arcade Fire Win Butler explained in an interview with The Advocate that while he “can totally see the sensitivity of the issue” when it comes to upset over Garfield playing a transwoman, he also said “There was just so much thought and love that went into the video I don't personally see it as negative.”
Discussion was had over whether Garfield would be an appropriate choice to play the transwoman, as director David Wilson explained, “Andrew’s commitment and passion toward the project was just overwhelming. For an actor of that caliber to be that emotionally invested in a music video is just a very special thing. It just completely made sense.”
Musician Our Lady J, a transwoman, coached Garfield to prepare for the role. Laura Jane Grace spoke with Our Lady J and later tweeted about her new perspective on the video.
The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), a “global forum for the professional independent music industry” released a statement that indicates YouTube has been unfair in their pursuit of signing contracts with independent labels. According to the Canadian Independent Music Association, any members of WIN who do not comply with YouTube’s streaming services will have their content blocked.
Exclaim! reports that the contracts “are apparently non-negotiable and offer rates below existing marketplace standards (from services like Spotify and Rdio).”
YouTube has been deemed “out of step with the marketplace for streaming” by Alison Wenham, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Music Ltd. UK, and has already been chastised for their mistreatment of indie music labels in the past.
What do Canadian independent labels have to say? Stuart Johnson, President of Canadian Independent Music Association, among other worldwide state representatives of independent music sectors, says the CIMA “is disappointed with reports of YouTube not negotiating in good faith with independent music labels… it is in everyone’s best interests for music service providers like YouTube to work with the independent music community to negotiate a deal that is fair, equitable and respectful for all parties involved.”
– Leyland Bradley