At first, it may seem like Lily Allen‘s new “Hard out Here” video is all fun and games — there’s fancy cars, champagne, fake liposuction and twerking galore. But take a closer look, and see that it’s meant to be a massive parody on pop and hip-hop and the misogyny that lives within the genre.
But now, the twerking scenes in the video have come under scrutiny for racism. In the clip, Lily attempts to twerk, as her manager instructs her dancers to jiggle their butts for the camera. The crew licks champagne bottles and Beats By Dre speakers. They sex up a Rolls Royce, pour bubbly over each other and flaunt stacks of cash — going over the top in the name of satire. But some bloggers, like those at #BlackinAsia, say her use of black twerking dancers is ill-willed.
“The video is meant to be a critique and satire of popular culture and manages some deserved jabs at Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ videos among others, but in the end it just reduces itself down to elevating Lily Allen’s white female body and objectifying and utterly denigrating those of the black female dancers she deliberately surrounds herself with from start to finish,” the bloggers wrote.
Another person wrote on Jezebel, “Because it’s satire a lot of people will argue that it doesn’t count because intent is magic, etc. but ironic racism is still racism.”
Allen is now firing back at those arguments, releasing aTwitter statement called “Privilege,Superiority and Misconceptions” on Wednesday (November 13).
1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.
2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they’re wrong.
3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.
4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. 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 and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.
5. I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.
6. Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist@SelizaShowtime @melycrisp
The controversy draws parallels to Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance, which critics called racist when she twerked and enlisted black women as her backup dancers. And as MTV News pointed out on Tuesday, the song itself mirrors Lorde’s stand against pop culture in her song “Royals.”
“I won’t be bragging ’bout my cars, or talkin’ ’bout my chains, I’ve got no need to shake my ass for you ’cause I’ve got a brain,” she sings in lyrics that echo Lorde’s decrying of Cristal, Mabach and diamonds. “If I told you ’bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut. When boys be talkin’ ’bout their bitches, no one’s making a fuss.”
“Royals” was also called racist. “We all know who she’s thinking when we’re talking gold teeth, Cristal andMaybachs,” blog Feministing wrote. “So why sh– on black folks? Why sh– on rappers?”
And although Allen’s references on “Hard out Here” are a little clearer — those lettered balloons are a direct poke at Robin Thicke’s naked “Blurred Lines” video and the bouncy butts and high-cut leotards might remind you of Rihanna’s self-directed “Pour it Up” clip — she claims they have nothing to do with race.