Over the last few days, Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and Arcade Fire have been going back and forth over the transgender character depicted by actor Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man) in Arcade Fire’s new video for “We Exist”. Grace, who herself is transgender, initially questioned why Arcade Fire didn’t cast an “actual Trans actor” for the role. In response, Arcade Fire frontman discussed the video with Advocate.com, explaining that it would never have been made if not for Garfield. “For a gay kid in Jamaica to see the actor who played Spider-Man in that role is pretty damn powerful, in my opinion,” Butler said. Meanwhile, the video’s director, David Wilson, revealed that he initially considered using a trans actor, but opted for Garfield due to his passion for the project.
Butler and Wilson’s explanation didn’t sit well with Grace, however, who took to Twitter on Sunday to further address the video. “This article is hella problematic,” she tweeted. “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? That’s so like wtf?”
“My main problem with the video isn’t even casting it’s stereotyping,” Grace continued. “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’.
Grace added she’s “a fan of the band” and called their 2010 record The Suburbs “a perfect album”. “That’s why The Suburbs is great and the video sucks though… When you come from the perspective you’re representing, it’s truth and powerful.”
Read Grace’s comments in full below.
And here’s the video that started it all: