Sky Ferreira - "I Blame Myself" video

Yesterday, Sky Ferreira shared a very strange Grant Singer-directed video for her wounded anthem “I Blame Myself.” Ferreira plays a drug kingpin in the video, and other than the police who arrest her, virtually everyone else in the video is a young black man. There’s also an out-of-nowhere scene where Ferreira and her gang bust out a synchronized dance. I loved the video, but it’s probably not a surprise that the online commentariat has accused Ferreira with, at the very least, racial weirdness with this one, of treating her co-stars like props. (Ferreira’s current tourmate Miley Cyrus dealt with similar charges after last year’s performance at the VMAs.) Last night, Ferreira responded to those charges with an impassioned Facebook post. Check it out below.

Thank you so much for the love & support of the video. It’s something that means a lot to me. I’ve never seen such a big response from my fans before

I’ve been reading some of the responses and I had a few thoughts:

Some people are accusing of being racist. I usually do not need to feel the need to explain myself(which I’m not) but I DO feel the need to share my thoughts on the situation. Nothing upsets me more than being called racist because that is one of the most hateful things anyone can be. Not only do I find it insulting towards myself but I also feel insulted for the actors & dancers & my family in the video. No, I did not use black back up dancers as “props”. I never have and never will look at any human being as a prop. That’s disgusting. It’s also an idea that has never crossed my mind,which is what I find questionable of the people telling me that I did so. Dancers are objects?!?!?! How dare you! Dancers make things come to life. If they were white would they be considered “props”? I auditioned a bunch of dancers, all races & my dancers were the best ones. I know that you have to be socially aware & mindful of others but when I look at this video I don’t see race as a issue. Stop trying to search for something that isn’t there. Comments like “rich little white girl exploiting the black people & the ghetto”…I never exploited anyone & I don’t use people in any shape or form. My brother is half black. My cousins are black. My family is Latina & Native American. Some of my family is in the video. I wasn’t raised in a “white” house hold & I’m not little & I have financially supported myself since I was 15 years old. I’m a woman, not a fucking little girl. Because I have pale skin & green eyes doesn’t mean I was raised in Beverly Hills and have Swedish film investor parents or whatever some have created in their minds. Would you feel more at ease if I danced with a bunch blonde white boys at a mall? Should I consciously only cast white dancers for now on? If I’m racist does that mean you’re pro-segregation?! I’m from LA & shot the video there. I referenced 90s hip hop videos and Michael Jackson because both of those things inspire me & played a big part of my childhood. The only thing I’m sorry for is if this post seems to come off self defensive,which it isn’t meant to be…but I had to share these thoughts because it drove me up the wall. Don’t demean the actors & dancers in the video. They are more well spoken & aware than you and I will ever be. Please do research before you make such shitty accusations about people. Anyways…Thank you SSENSE & Atom Factory Management & Grant Singer for making this video happen. We have been trying to make it for a while & I’m so glad I get to share it with the world now <3333333

x
Sky

(via Ferreira’s Facebook, via Brooklyn Vegan)

Anytime you have to insist that you’re not being racist there’s a very real chance that you’ve just done something deeply problematic, but I don’t know, I’m pretty convinced. There’s certainly an element of provocation in the video, but the general overwhelming air of silliness was what I took away from the video. Go ahead and take up the discussion in the comments section.

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Comments (109)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. Not only does her post read as incredibly defensive, it all seems especially bogus because it was only a matter of months ago that Miley Cyrus and Lilly Allen were taking heat for the exact same thing. The fact that all of these singers come back with “I don’t see race” as their first line of defense just shows how out of touch they are. Also calling the dancers “well-spoken” … smh. Why not just tell us how “articulate” they are?

    • So to clarify, you are downvoting because:

      a) you don’t think she’s being defensive
      b) you don’t think this is the exact same issue that Lily Allen / Miley Cyrus got criticized for
      c) you think Sky saying “I don’t see this as a racial issue” is all that needs to be said

      (maybe there are other reasons, but hey, I’m not the one silently passing judgment from behind a button, and I don’t have all day to guess about this)

      a) and b) are basically just factual observations, so I’m guessing it’s c) that is so upsetting to everyone. If that is you, I suggest you read this: http://whiteseducatingwhites.tumblr.com/post/30824175814/race-101-colorblindness-and-the-privilege-of-not

      If you have time to read about shit like this, you have time to learn something.

      • Is it possible…just possible…that some people actually don’t “see” (i.e., get knotted up about or sidestep) race?

        I know it’s the neocon’s defense of all things racist, but honest to God there are people raised in multicultural households, and who might even identify with music predominantly associated with another race, and maybe even see themselves blending in with that, even though the rest of us see them sticking out like the pale thumbs that they are?

        Really, what people are saying by continuing to take her to task is “I don’t believe her.” And taking this on an individual-case basis – the ONLY honest way to take an issue such as this – I think she’s a little over-the-top with her protests, but stripped of her opinions the basic facts seem honest.

        • Dude, that’s a lot of rationalization for something that really isn’t super complicated.

          Just watch the director talking about the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzvTMY8FzPw

          He says he wants her in “a quintessential American ghetto,” that he has her with a bunch of “thuggish” guys, and that the whole thing, from the Compton setting to the hydraulics in the cars, is inspired by “90s gangsta rap videos.” It’s not an issue of Sky being some down girl from the hood who grew up listening to rap and hanging out in neighborhoods like the one in the video. Her creative team – including her? I don’t know what her level of creative control is but her name is on the thing – just picked a convenient media stereotype of what black culture is like and used it for a joke.

        • And that is not to say that she didn’t perhaps make the mistake of choosing a form and subject for her video that wouldn’t obviously be put up to scrutiny.

          My personal verdict: it’s not racist, but it’s not necessarily racially sensitive, and not particularly self-aware.

          • I actually agree with that!

            I never said, “OMG this video is the most racist thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” I said I was disappointed in Sky for being defensive when, best case scenario, she was being thoughtless and insensitive and could probably learn something.

            When white people get called racist, they make it all about themselves and how not-racist they are. Better suggestion: actually think about your actions, then maybe apologize and try to do better!

      • Oh god you didn’t just post a tumblr article to support your argument did you?

  3. I felt it was misandrogynistic, to be quite honest (that was a joke…), but then again I’m so confused these days within the realm of the music discussion about what we can and cannot say or show anymore, because everything is e̶m̶b̶a̶r̶r̶a̶s̶s̶i̶n̶g̶ offense.

  4. when it comes to race you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. had she cast all white people the pc commentariat thought police would be accusing her of racism. the accusation of ‘racism’ is thrown around so often that it’s become meaningless. some ex-kkk dude just shot up a jewish community center, and people are worried about a pop singer casting black dancers in her video? get a fucking clue, please…

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • You wouldn’t be happy with any specific grouping of dancers. Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” got the same criticism for using the women who were dancing in her videos. “She’s using them as props!”

        Hey, fun little thought: dancers are kinda supposed to be props during the performance. No matter what gender/ethnicity/sexual orientation, as far as any performance; they’re job is to make the singer’s performance look better. We aren’t supposed to sit down and try to make them into as big of stars as the main performer. It just doesn’t make sense.

        • well you’re prop argument is not with me, I didn’t say anything like that. and well, the rest of your argument isn’t really with me either. I’m just saying that Yes, there are more extreme forms of racism out there, but that doesn’t mean that what’s going on here isn’t some form of racism. I think it’s debatable. You’re trying to lump me in with all the others who are saying this video is racist, along with all their arguments.

          • “Than it’s not” instead of “then it’s not”
            “Their job is..” not “They’re job is…”‘
            “your prop argument…” NOT “you’re prop argument…”

            swear to god, one of you better start using proper grammar because i do not have the energy to hate two people today.

          • mixed the order up on the first line. that’s how blinding my rage was.

          • @Idonteven It’s almost as if we all make mistakes…

      • Yeah, the real problem is definitely people who object to racism, not the fact that people actually are fucking racist. Good redirect.

        Your argument makes no sense. Saying a video can’t be racist because “real racism” is shit like cross-burnings and shootings is like saying a video can’t be sexist because “real sexism” is rape and sexual assault. Obviously there are extreme/violent forms of bigotry, but there are ALSO subtle, pervasive messages in the media that reinforce prejudice. Using black people as props for your hipster barbie ghetto fantasy is fucked up. Using the ghetto as a “scene” for your lame white girl dancing is fucked up too.

        What pisses me off the most is not that Sky made this video, it is that she is totally unreflective about her privilege. She makes the whole thing about her – her background, who she is, what she wanted to depict and who she paid to do it. Does she say anything indicating her awareness that there are real ghettoes, real drug dealers, real economic hardship? Instead of taking the opportunity to learn something, she is making herself the victim.

        And that is exactly the mentality of the defensive hipster assholes who will surely downvote this comment into oblivion. But I don’t fucking care. Reading this site, I notice that it’s populated entirely by assholes like Michael_, who constantly bitch and moan about how feminism is “reverse sexism,” who think that any attempt to call out a white artist on their racist bullshit is just “playing the race card.” Sorry, but women and minorities do not just have to remain silent and watch people make a mockery of them. The reason people are objecting to Sky’s video is not because they want to start shit, it’s because they are tired of seeing their people and their communities stereotyped and appropriated. If you can’t move past your own defensiveness to try and understand what that experience is like, then you ARE a closed-minded jerk.

        • I agree with your statement about making it all about her. I’m not going to come right out and say she’s being racist, because I think it’s complicated. But, her racism litmus test seems to be “Am I racist? No, I’m not. therefore what I do is not racist.”

          • I would also like to point out the irony that the video is called “I Blame Myself” and she is blaming everyone but herself.

        • I never comment here, mostly because internet comments are typically enraging and it’s easier to roll my eyes than to engage in discourse that will only lead to frustration. HOWEVER, I had to log in to write a response and thank you for offering a somehow unpopular opinion in this comment section. How we’ve made it to 2014 still unable to recognize and educate ourselves on institutional racism and prejudice in the media is beyond me.

          The problem with white America (and yes, I am a part of white America) is that we think racism is narrowly defined by extremes, like using the N-word and denying someone service based on skin color. It’s extremely embarrassing and frustrating that Sky Ferreira and her team ruined a teachable moment when confronted with perfectly valid criticism. Even worse, she demeaned and disregarded the voices that need to be heard the most in this country by twisting the blame back towards them (Seriously…”I have a black friend…I’m not racist! YOU’RE racist for thinking that!” is such an tired, uneducated excuse).

          For everyone simply commenting “Nope the video wasn’t racist,” I urge you to take another look through a lens absent of privilege. When her own behind-the-scenes video explains the shoot as taking place in the “quintessential American ghetto” starring “thuggish kind of guys” and “inspired by like, early 90s gangsta rap”, I really don’t understand how you cannot grasp that this is exploitative and problematic. I’m so sick of seeing white people getting so offended without bothering to even think about the context or the people they offended in the first place. We don’t need to hear the ignorant Facebook ramblings of some trendy white girl who is blind to her own privilege and playing dress up while using black bodies as props. We get plenty of that in the media every single day. Let’s not immediately shut down criticism the next time something like this happens, as we all know it will. Let’s maybe use the next opportunity to learn something. Is it really that difficult?

          • I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, but maybe new language really is necessary to talk about what what’s happening nowadays. It was the feminist and African Americans activist movements that forced us as a nation to think about the language we use and how that might affect others. I find it ironic that people steeped in those paradigms seem reticent to acknowledge the notion that the efficacy of one’s critique might itself depend greatly upon the language used for it.

            Privilege blindness deserves to be thought about and discussed. More people should be aware of it and its implications for policy and discourse. But at this point the efforts should be educational, not attacks. As far as self expression goes, everyone has the right to be offended and get angry and frustrated. But in terms of actually advancing a progressive cause, that type of behavior will often be counterproductive. People who could have been open minded about acknowledging blind spots suddenly become defensive and closed to the words being thrown their way.

            You’re right to try to encourage an empathic point of view with regard to recognizing one’s privilege. Empathy is the best way to change your perspective on something. But anger–no matter how justified or righteous–will always shut off the possibility for empathy. Most recent efforts to open people’s minds on topics of race and sex make those minds close even tighter. And those of us who try to encourage a new way of communicating are often dismissed as “tone trolls.”

    • also, you take the two extremes for examples of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. Here’s and idea, what if she cast multiple races? what if there were even one or two white dancers? that would change the conversation, wouldn’t it?

    • u mad?

  5. So just to recap, ASAP Rocky and Skrillex can parade around a favela pretending to be gangsters, while actual residents (whose lives are made very miserable by the gangsters ASAP is emulating) dance in the background. That is okay. Sky Ferreira employs black actors to make a cutesy gangsta motif video. Not okay. Got it.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I’m not even going to get into the whole saturation of urban culture into the mainstream and how you seem completely oblivious to it.

        Instead, I’m just going to point out that you just equated the holocaust to someone wearing saggy pants. This is the internet, but still, you don’t see that every day.

  6. this is the stupidest argument ever and it occurs every two weeks. pretty much done rewarding stereogum (and several other publications) with page views.

  7. There’s a lot of racist ish in media (yes, you Miley…), this is not one of them.

    Great video. Great MJ tribute with the hair. Great eyes.

  8. I’m not particularly interested in political correctness and the self-indulgent indignation that comes along with that kind of thing, and I don’t think Sky Ferreira is a racist, or at least this video doesn’t make me think that she’s a racist: I just think the video is a bad idea.

    Hip hop videos, for all of their issues, are kind of hard to divorce from the social and economic background most of the artists come from. Whether or not they glorify or critique drug-gang culture, it’s a commentary from that experience (with varying levels of credibility) and being in that experience IS a product of a racist culture that puts a people group in a ghetto and leaves them to rot. Now, do I think white people can engage with that as an art form, talk about it, ask questions about it, criticize it? Yeah, I do. BUT: It’s probably a crappy idea to appropriate it as the backdrop of your pop video that ends with you in jail and using your sex appeal to get out of trouble with the white cops.

  9. the video clearly isn’t racist, but instead of taking a more subjective point of view on the whole thing, it’s really disheartening to see her take the whole “i’m not racist, you’re racist for calling me racist, and i have multiple examples of why i’m not racist” defense. that could be chalked up to the fact she’s young and has a history of bad judgement, but she comes off as really ineloquent in what she’s written.

    as for the controversy over how african americans are depicted in her video, i can’t help but think everyone is making a big deal over nothing. not to mention the double standard over not including enough diversity (hbo’s girls) and including too much diversity (this).

    i really don’t want it to affect how much i love the song, though. i fucking love the song.

    • The one moment in the video that actually made me raise my eyebrows was when she was riding in the car in the front passenger’s seat, and they pass a black guy crouching on the sidewalk in coveralls. That shot implied, to me anyway, the guy in the coveralls was looking at Sky in a way that one would look at a powerful crime boss, or at least someone who is notorious/intimidating/commanding respect. Anyway, it was not a casual glance at the very least. There’s a lot of race-relation weirdness in that to me.

  10. BLACK AND WHITE PEOPLE ARE IN THE SAME VIDEO

    HOLY SHIT IT MUST BE RACIST

  11. My guess is that we, as a whole, are now dealing with a new stage of racism. And that’s a good thing. Deliberate capital R Racism is a little more rare these days, but racism still exists, mostly unintentional. We almost need a new word for it. Not sure if ‘prejudice’ works. Even though Ferreira probably wasn’t consciously thinking along these lines, she may have sub-consciously hired all black back up dancers thinking there was something that made them better dancers and would fit in the video better. If that were the case, I don’t think that makes her racist, but at the same time I don’t think she’s being completely honest in denying any prejudice in her choices.
    take this test for example. http://www.understandingprejudice.org/iat/index2.htm
    everyone has biases. I first heard about this test from writer Malcolm Gladwell, who was surprised to find out he had biases himself (being bi-racial)
    I think the problem we’re facing now is trying to overcome these biases as a society, and terms like ‘racism’ are a little too loaded to properly convey whats going on.

    • “Insensitivity” is a decent word for it.

      I think the desegregation of music and culture actually causes a lot of it – an awful lot of people, especially those who grew up with hip-hop, think they can just dive into a culture that used to be held closely but now is shared openly, without thinking about how bad that can look if it’s not done carefully.

      What I would have liked is for Sky Ferreira to have a bit more of a backstory as to why she chose to make this particular video. As it stands, it looks like she did it just because she thought it would be cool. Which, despite her protests to the contrary, implies she isn’t the mature adult she believes herself to be.

      We all have been or will be insensitive at some point, some of us much more publicly than others. The best thing to do is to tune out the screamers and those who live to judge, and try to learn from it.

  12. *you’re

  13. Because I responded to something doesn't mean that I've done something "deeply problematic"… It's because I'm deeply INSULTED— Sky Ferreira (@skyferreira) April 17, 2014

    Sky’s subtweeting Tom; uh ohh, such drama, much shade.

  14. Can we put Miley Cyrus, Sky Ferreira and Lilly Allen all in the same basket? They’re all white singers and have the same cultural background? Maybe it`s unffair deny someone’s culture because you think she doesn’t belong there. If it were Beyonce that video would be a problem?

  15. Isn’t it funny how it used to be racist to not include any people of color in media? Now it’s racist to use too many people of color at one time.

    • I don’t think it’s ever been about numbers, but representaion. and how those are represented. And yes, how we talk about racism has changed, which is good, I think that signals progress, we’re dealing with racism on a different level now (generally).

    • The game of sanctimonious political correctness cannot be won.

      • and this, I think, is a great example of what happens when we don’t allow ourselves do deal with racism on a new, more nuanced level. It gets brushed off as ‘sanctimonious political correctness’.

      • Wanting to be represented in a positive, non-stereotypical way is “sanctimonius”? You really think people should just be glad there are black people in the media and not raise any issues about HOW they are depicted?

    • Excuse me you’ve gone over your Tumblr mandated 10-15 blacks per video rule. You’re out. To the chopping block we go.

  16. I really don’t think Sky Ferreira meant to be racist, but defending the dancers in her video as “well spoken” wasn’t the best way to convince skeptics. I assume she wasn’t making a subtle reference to the classic Chris Rock bit.

    “Whenever Colin Powell is on the news, white people give him the same compliments: ‘How do you feel about Colin Powell?’, ‘He speaks so well! He’s so well spoken. I mean he really speaks so well!’ Like that’s a compliment. ‘He speaks so well’ is not a compliment, okay? ‘He speaks so well’ is some shit you say about retarded people that can talk. What do you mean he speaks so well? He’s a fucking educated man! How the fuck did you expect him to sound, you dirty motherfucker? ‘He speaks so well.’ What are you talking about? What voice were you expecting to come out of his mouth? ‘Imma drop me a bomb today’, ‘I be Pwez o dent!’.”

    – Chris Rock

  17. white, black, purple, green, whatever, can’t we all just get along?

  18. this would have never even happened when i was her age…

  19. A lot of fuss over nothing. I’m probably not entitled to say that being a white Scottish guy, but there you go. I thought the video was cool in the fact that the powerful lead is played by a female.

  20. The problem here isn’t racism, it’s their stupidity. She shouldn’t of had to defend herself here but there you go…

  21. I’m do not study this stuff. I don’t have great insightful things to say about it. All I know is the whole time I watched the video yesterday all I could think was- ” this is not going to be ok.” I don’t understand how this reaction can be surprising to her. How are you not paying attention to the information that you as an artist are disseminating?
    Casting a bunch of young black men as gangsters doesn’t do anything for anybody. It only carries on this dangerous myth that black men are criminals. I wish this video was better I was beginning to root for Sky.

  22. I think the video is racist. I think the video is harmless.

  23. This video was sort of ambiguously racist at first but if you watch the youtube “making of” and the director keeps saying “ghetto” and “thugs” like he’s the white guy that drove dave chappelle into hiding. DEFINITELY RACIST!!!!

  24. This whole issue is very complicated, but I don’t think the extreme PC attitude and self righteous people on the internet is helping. I honestly believe all the condescending lecturing about racism, sexism, etc actually does contribute to the problem. Here’s why:

    The internet, and modern society, is an increasingly fragmented place. People no longer have to all watch the same newscast on TV, or get all of their music from the radio, or only watch movies playing at the local movie theater. If something on the internet annoys you, it is pretty easy to avoid it entirely. With music, movies, TV, anything really, it is easy to filter everything to your specific tastes and beliefs. And while that is mostly a good thing (I have cut the musical stylings of Katy Perry out of my life entirely and am all the happier for it), it also creates some issues.

    I think there are more or less three groups of people in a situation like this: those who are thoroughly racist and firmly entrenched in their beliefs of hating other people, those who are thoroughly anti-racist and who firmly believe in spreading political correctness and social justice and calling out racism in every instance, and the largest group, those who fall somewhere in between, who aren’t racist and are (hopefully) good people, but aren’t really aware enough of all the issues to make the right judgment in every situation. These are the people who, if made aware of the nuances of the problem of racism, have the capacity to change their opinion.

    The condescending, self righteous people on the internet who like to come into a comment section like this and preach to everyone about how awful something like this is and how personally outraged and offended they are, regardless of whether they are a part of the group of people subjected to the alleged racism, while they may be right and have the right idea (racism = bad), it comes off as (and very much is) incredibly self serving. It often reads as “HEY GUYS I AM A REALLY FUCKING GOOD PERSON FOR BEING UPSET ABOUT THIS, LOOK HOW GOOD OF A PERSON I AM, YOU ALL ARE ASSHOLES IF YOU DON’T 100% AGREE” instead of trying to explain to people that racism is often very subtle and can do damage even if it isn’t on the level of some raging white guy in the KKK burning a cross on a black person’s lawn. This is a problem because of who the audience is. I believe most people reading PC thinkpieces and these comment sections are in either the uber PC group and already on board, or they are in the in-between group and, for lack of a better term, are “undecided.” A full blown neo nazi racist isn’t gonna bother. The PC group reading it don’t need to be convinced, because they already agree.

    What really matters here is the undecided group. If you are someone who already believes you are a good person and not part of the problem, and then see some incredibly self righteous comment or thinkpiece about a given controversy, it will probably turn you off and put you on the defensive. I’m not saying that Tumblr is converting people to the KKK, but the overwhelming self righteousness from the PC crowd will definitely turn off people who don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other. And that’s a problem! These types of things should be trying to change people’s minds and make them aware of the issue, not turn them off from the conversation because all that’s happening is people lecturing them. Yes, I’m aware that white people can be the worst and some probably deserve to be lectured on issues of race, but those people aren’t reading these things to begin with. The people without strong opinions are reading them, however, and its going to make them hate the whole topic. And it’s going to turn them away from making any sort of change.

    • Some people seem far more interested in their own masturbatory anger and self-righteousness, casting themselves as brave moral crusaders, than actually engaging with controversial subjects and genuinely trying to educate people. In my opinion some people also need to realise that not everything/one that has ever been accused of racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia/whatever is necessarily whatever it has been accused of, and people who disagree with them are not all racist etc.

    • The big danger of a lot of the language of this kind of stuff is a new power dynamic is emerging. I think the idea of privilege is really interesting and has a huge amount of value to it. BUT, it’s turning into this “I’m so much more aware of my privilege than you are, here, read this blog post you piece of trash, your talking rights are revoked until then.” It’s almost pandering to people of oppressed groups. “See? I’m being aggressive and defending you! I am the great white hope.” The language of privilege can just keep spiraling out: A white person might not have come from an economically privileged position of even being educated about white privilege in the first place, and on and on. Privilege as an all encompassing, all-motivating concept breaks down because it’s always going to be more complicated than a binary; Power groups within groups are an inevitability, especially when unchosen position is used as leverage against someone up or down the social ladder. Again, it’s all very interesting, important and true, but it has to have limits in conversation and praxis.

      And also, does privilege prevent me as a white guy from having a legitimate moral stance on something? For example, I’m pretty numb to black men on TV calling women bitches. I think that’s something we kind of need to talk about, but I don’t know if I’m “allowed” to. We all have to share the same pavement, and we just can’t afford constant shifting rules of who can speak and when and what about.

    • I totally agree, and media plays a huge role in this. My views are about as leftist/progressive as you can get (my political compass score is -6.4, -7.3), and yet I feel increasingly distanced from political discussions of current events due to this style of confrontation that the internet has strengthened. I’ve always hated what I used to call “bumper sticker politics,” and Twitter/internet comments have taken this simplistic tribalism to new lows.

      Even if you don’t feel like elucidating the finer points of an issue that’s likely to be complex or rife with subtleties, at least come up with jargon that tries to acknowledge the relative magnitude of transgression that can occur. “Racism” is a heavy charge. Being “racist” means being lumped with the arch villains of our recent past: Slave owners, the KKK, Nazis, Neo-Nazis, etc. It’s not surprising that people will freak out and get defensive if they are labeled racist for doing something that’s a 1 or a 2 on the race sensitivity transgression scale. And they’re often not intentional transgressions. These are moments of true ignorance among otherwise well meaning people. It’s a time for education, not outrage or snark.

      If you want to be pithy in your critiques, at least be precise. At very least, strive to be productive in your efforts to correct behavior, and not merely add to the toxic waste of culture war discourse that is currently choking us.

  25. I wonder how the dancers feel

  26. you gotta love these privileged white pop stars getting all defensive for being called out. just because you’re not being intentionally racist doesn’t mean you’re not ignorant and insensitive. just because you’re not aware of how privileged and out of touch with reality you are doesn’t mean it’s ok to appropriate the “ghetto” look for you’re little white girl fashion fantasy.
    oh an you gotta love her white teen fans getting annoyed and defending her ignorance. “this ain’t racist”, says the white person who has no clue what it’s like to not be white, entitled and privileged.

  27. Wait….The Black Keys are white?!?!?! Racist!!!!! At least the White Stripes kept it real.

  28. I don’t think her response is based off of her feeling like she has to defend herself. I think Sky’s response manifested itself out of anger because of the fact that someone would think to call her racist and colorblind.

    I think she just wanted to have a cool-looking video with some cool, hip-hop dancers. Sorry, but I don’t think she’s wrong for wanting that.

    Come on guys, she’s not racist.

  29. thats not racist. this is racist:

  30. I’m a little blasé about the video, but I’m more off-put by the typical “some of my best friends are black” thing. Shit don’t work.

  31. I really don’t get all the fuss and I think it’s really sad
    When I saw the video it never even crossed my mind for a second.
    I just see a bunch of “beautiful people” who made a fabulous video.

  32. There are some neighborhoods that are predominantly black. There are sometimes people in those neighborhoods that sell drugs. The thought of a cute white chick rolling with them and leading their posse is interesting. The video wouldn’t be interesting if it were a bunch of white dudes. White thugs are lame and they suck at dancing. So yeah race is integral to the video, it makes it what it is, and in that sense she is exploiting race….but so what? I don’t see what is degrading or hateful about that.

    • i think the word “exploit” has inherent degrading connotations.

      • In the music publishing world, the word “exploit” is used as a neutral to positive. “Exploiting” the content… to get money to the songwriter or publisher. Exploit has more than one meaning. Just an aside, carry on with the “who is and who isn’t racist convo”.

  33. I have yet to see Sky’s music warrant the hype (much of which seems created by her looks), but…this is the definition of a bullshit tempest in a teapot. It is so ludicrously disingenuous to attempt to dance around the concept that there are innumerable black gang members and drig dealers. Hip hop music itself is rife with stars who freely admit to their own pasts in the “business.” And did anyone consider that the black “gang members” were cast simply because they could dance? Regardless, the entire controversy is beyond hypocritical and stupid and the sort of thing only ever leveled against white artists, while racism, sexism and rampant homophobia is effectively ignored by the same bluenoses when it comes hip hop.

  34. What’s her problem with people from Beverly Hills and Swedish people??? This is all deeply problematic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Ahh the white person’s struggle to convince others they aren’t racist. A story as old as time..

  36. The video is just lame. As in stupid. Next time , make a video with cats, or just waves. Rule # 1: Never make a video with people in it. EVER.

  37. Funny that people don’t go up in arms when women of any race are used as props in music videos. Hmm.

  38. if this kind of stuff bothers you then i don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning.
    how many kids across the globe have been drone-bombed by the USA in the past 6 years alone ?
    NO SHUTUP SKY FERREIRA MAYBE DID SOMETHING WRONG

  39. I’d say the video is (unintentionally) exploitative, but I still like it decently well for other reasons. Mostly I like the whole female-in-a-position-of-power thing, but achieving that through glorifying gang culture was probably not the best choice. It’s kind of the same way I feel about the movie Spring Breakers: I can acknowledge the subtly exploitative qualities of the artwork while still liking it as a whole because of female empowerment and interesting cinematography. Although Spring Breakers is ambiguous enough that it could actually be more of a social commentary than an exploitation (or a bit of both), Sky’s video definitely doesn’t strike me as a social commentary. It’s more of a self-examination, and that focus on herself is what makes it seem more exploitative than it might have otherwise.

    Or something like that. I don’t know. Now I’m just confused.

    Oh well. I love the song so much that there’s probably no video she could have made for it that would have felt as good as the song itself.

    • You thinking this video glorifies gang culture just bc they are black people is more racist than anything in this video.

      • Doesn’t any video that has gangs break into synchronized dance moves inherently glorify Gang Culture? I mean, West Side Story and Beat It both depicted well dressed sexy gang members, dancing in glorious choreography. If that is not glorification, I don’t know what is.

  40. Are they mad because they thought she was a person of color??

  41. Why do people instantly assume it’s racist…I assumed it meant she liked to take black dick.

  42. Her “If they were white would they be considered “props”?” comment was pretty interesting.

    I think she might actually just be a racist prover, and we’re all actually the racists for even thinking that she thought they were props

  43. As always, the faux outrage machine is way off base calling the video racist. I do not even know what they are looking for anymore or how to prevent their ire.

    More importantly though, this video is just a mess. Who wants to watch a girl mug in front of the camera for 3 minutes and play with her hair while she hangs out with pretend gangsters over a girly pop song? Who comes up with and approves this crap? I’m more offended by the content than any fabricated racism.

  44. This just isn’t even racist at all, even a little bit. If there’s one thing I take away from the internet today, it’s that everything ever is racist. If you’re born into privelage then everything you do ever will be racist and if your born as part of a minority, then you will forever be a victim, I guess. Fucking stupid.

  45. Didn’t you know Lorde’s anti-materialism song Royals is really a racist rant about black culture because she talks about gold chains and grey goose referring to blinged out rappers who are mostly black??

    The oversensitivity of people in this country keep hitting new lows. And growing sense of entitlement allows these people to create controversy where there really is none in the hopes of making $$ or destroying other’s lives and reputations. The media is #1 guilty of perpetuating this. Unfortunately, the every day person of society buys into theses BS stories without doing any research of their own.

    No wonder we’re so fucked.

  46. How about the real problem of this song being a complete piece of garbage? Same for the Lily Allen song. Both of which only where able to generate silly discourse and not much more. Any music fan can see this is a weak effort, even for bland indie/pop music and still, people treat it like Thriller in it’s importance.

  47. how about this: her music sucks and is obviously dependent on embroiling the artist in ‘controversy’ to garner attention.

  48. I don’t know why we have to drag race into it and we can’t all just take solace in the fact that her music sucks? I don’t see her appeal.

  49. I think this video is fucking killer and I was mildly surprised that people thought it was racist, because all I could think was “Oh! This is like Madonna!” or “Oh! She did a Michael Jackson finger waggle point movie! The waggle pointing! YES!” so it was weird to revel so joyously in the barrage of 80′s references only to come back down to the here and now and be confronted with RACISM. If I am being hyper sensitive (and willfully ignorant of all of the hot hot 80′s references) I could see how her pointing out how “well spoken” all of the dancers are I can see how she comes off racist. BUT, I rethought that line and maybe she was saying that they can all just speak for themselves. So if they “aren’t props” why doesn’t anyone talk to them?

    And no, she could not do the same video with all white people and avoid accusations of racism. Because then people would just accuse of her “misappropriating” black culture (though thinking about it now it would still be a killer video). The only reason she could avoid accusations of racism would be to cast two black dancers and two white dancers for the video. Basically too many black people and they look like props, too little black people (not midget black people but just a small number) would all seem racist.

    Basically I’m talking about a ying yang people. That’s right, a fucking YING. YANG. She needs equal parts black and white, light and dark. I knew this all came down to ancient eastern philosophy. Oh shit, I just misappropriated a distant culture associated with Asia (and then ASIANS) and I’m a white person. JESUS, WHERE WILL IT END??

    But seriously, ying yangs.

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