So, let us discuss Florence + the Machine’s racist new music video

Urgh, Florence, here I was just praising your new album and raving on about how awesome it is and how awesome you are and then you pull such a stunt? Speaking of course of your new music video for the next Ceremonials single No light, No light.

If you cannot watch the above video for whatever reason, you can also click THIS LINK to view it.

It is painful, because I wanna believe that Florence + the Machine are just awesome people, totally aware of the pitfalls of language and imagery and avoiding them because they too are fighting for a greater good (great question to ask at this point: Alex, do you think you are fighting for a greater good?). Having to accept first of all that one of the songs on the album that I like less is being picked as second single is one thing. Having to sit through the accompanying music video is a whole other.

Cause damn, girl, this is fucked up.
I was uncomfortable watching this even when I still thought that there was going to be a twist and it turns out that the black guy is actually her boyfriend and it’ll all be good. But no. Turns out the only black guy in the video happens not only to be the only one to get to dance, ermh, wildly? Savagely? Threateningly? But he is actually also physically hunting poor young white girl (oh, Florence….) and threatening her. But rest assured, no harm will come, because: young white boys as priests in a church! Which is an image to trigger a whole ‘nother discussion of its own, but of course we don’t stop there. Because after so much threatening Mister Black Guy (Voodoo! of course!) the final moments of the video are spent in her very white boyfriend’s arms. Phew, poor viewers, there you were, all afraid that poor white Florence might have to get into any sort of contact with the black dude, but luckily all ends stereotypically bad well and white girl ends up with white dude and the dancing black guy was nothing but a nightmare for white society Florence. Ok, so now you try to defend the thing to me and not burst out laughing because of all the racist bullshit that is going on here. I dare you. I fucking do.

And all of that would be bad enough, but is it just me, or is there some serious Blackface happening in this video? I am not entirely sure, but my advanced google search gold has turned up some more voices ascertaining that the guy being the black dude in the video is actually not black in real life but was painted black for the clip. Which, I mean, damn. No. There are fuck-up limits you should not cross, and seriously, Blackface is about as bad as it can get. How can I keep talking about how awesome Florence + the Machine supposedly are when obviously no one involved in this multi-thousand dollar endeavour puts up her_his hand and goes: Excuse me, isn’t this racist imagery? Shouldn’t we reconsider? Isn’t the narrative just reinforcing racist and potentially dangerous stereotypes?
Because hell no, there is no excuse for all of what goes on in the No light, no light video, and first and foremost the whole “it’s art” thing is no argument on substantial ground.

I was so hoping to see even the slightest hint of a meta-level in this video, some suggestion that the clip-makers were aware of what was going on and trying to subvert it, but subversion did not show. I really whish this video would not have been produced in the first place, but now I am really just waiting for shit to hit the fan hard. Let’s see what Florence + the Machine will answer to that (and please: let it not be utter bullshit).


6 thoughts on “So, let us discuss Florence + the Machine’s racist new music video

  1. great bands always cause the biggests uproars. I honestly think it was more of the director’s fault, lazy imagery of just sticking to the good old white/christianity is good. black/any other religion is bad methaphors. doesnt excuse them of course.

    1. While I also believe that this is what the director ultimately went for, I find it to be ultra-disappointing that no one shook their head and said “no way, dude”. Because: really? Do people live in such a bubble that they don’t notice? Escpecially with a band like Florence + the Machine, you know, where she seems very intelligent and aware in interviews, but then… this. IMO, the whole narrative doesn’t even make any sense if not for the racism is exudes. Black people are terrifying? Black people symbolize what white people find terrifying? Cause that is basically what the thing breaks down to, and without any hint of questioning that assumption it does nothing but endorse it, really.

      And of course btw: Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. Am I the only one who thinks her videos are shit? Like she’s not hiring talented people to script/choreograph/direct them? The production values are alright but ALL the ones I’ve seen except for maybe her very first one were rather unimaginative and literal (disappointing accompaniment for such awesome music) so no surprise that they got even lazier and stupid with this one.

    1. Good point. It’s true, while production value is always high, the videos are rather lame in what they are trying to tell story-wise or even provide as visuals. Dog Days are one major example… such an awesome song and such an unconnected and boring video to it.

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