Music

Lily Allen on controversial ‘Hard Out Here’ video: “I’m not going to apologise”

Although the lyrics of her comeback single ‘Hard out Here’ plainly state “if you can’t detect the sarcasm, you’re misunderstood”, Lily Allen has taken to Twitter in an attempt to clarify her intentions and defend the song’s controversial video against accusations of racism.

The clip, which parodies the bling, champagne showers, and casual misogyny of Top 40 pop and hip-hop tracks, has come under fire for a scene featuring twerking back-up (no pun intended) dancers. Under the headline “Is There a Racist Undertone to Lily Allen’s “Hard Out Here” Video?” Flavourwire ran a thinkpiece that declared that “obviously no one involved in making this video was really thinking too hard about the racial politics of it all [and] a little bit of her trademark sarcasm applied to the way her business uses women of color could do us all more than a little good.” In a similar vein, a writer on feminist blog Jezebel argues that the clip is “a classic case of ironic racism, where she claims to be progressive and sarcastically challenging the norms, but she doesn’t do anything more than present them.”

Allen responded to the criticism with a six point defense explaining the motivation behind the clip. “The message is clear,” Allen wrote. “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 … If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.”

Several of the dancers featured in the clip have also defended Allen. “It’s ONE VIDEO addressing SOME of the things in the industry,” dancer Seliza Sebastian stressed. While another dancer, Monique Lawrence, noted that Allen had auditioned over a 100 candidates for the clip. “She narrowed it down to the final 6 based on their dance abilities not their races,” Lawrence tweeted. “And in saying that all 6 do have a variety of backgrounds. Jamaica, Asia, South Africa, Brazillian, Grenada.”

The video’s director Christopher Sweeney has also spoken about Allen’s intentions in interviews with The Independent and NME, explaining that he was briefed to do “something ostensibly with the aesthetics of a mainstream pop video but turning it on its head … I would say we have definitely entered a new chapter.”Speaking to NME, Sweeny elaborated on the idea: “I think the music video clichés we make nods to in the video are part of a culture we’re all complicit in. So, our video’s not attacking those things as much as addressing them and having a bit of fun with them.”

Lily Allen’s statement on privilege, superiority and misconceptions

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