I saw some people complaining about this video being racist, but I’m not quite sure that it is. Yes, I know people think it is using blackface and is mocking voodoo or other spirit driven religions, but I’m not sure that that is the message of the video.
First of all, the guy that is supposed to be in blackface doesn’t seem to me to represent a person. It’s more of a representation of darkness/evil. Now, if you want to get into a discussion about how our society associates all things evil/bad with the color black or with darkened things, then fine, I agree that that stereotype is bad but…I don’t think that this video is meant to really vilify anyone or mock them. It is more a representation of escaping the bad. Also, it isn’t really blackface. Blackface is more than just makeup. It’s a true mocking of a person based on their race, which you may think this video is doing, but there’s no real mocking going on. Now, people talk about how Florence is a fair skinned person and she’s saved once she gets in the church, but the video (using the same religious imagery) could be just as offensive if she were the evil being and was chasing a person of color. That could evoke ideas of white supremacy/lynching and old beliefs that red-haired people are witches and are evil. (And if you start saying that redheads don’t know oppression or hate crimes or anything of the sort because they’re white, I will point you to the great-and-wonderful Google so you can check out the history of why you would be wrong about that.)
Secondly, if you’re going to get upset about the “voodoo doll” stuff (though you can find poppets in a lot of religions), then you might also want to get upset that somehow she is being thrown/jumping off a building into a Catholic church. That kind of brings up issues of inner turmoil and suicide. And if you look at it from a suicide angle, then the fact that she’s falling into a cathedral makes it controversial for Catholics and any other group that might view suicide as being immoral.
Now, I get why people are upset over it and I get what they think is being said/done in the video, but I think the controversy is being blown out of proportion. The video is a lot like a book or a movie exploring deeper personal and social issues. It wasn’t done in a way to make any group of people look bad.
I mean, I’ve seen people do blackface and when it is really being done and it is being done to denigrate people, it is horrible, but this isn’t that. And yeah, I’m white. I’m a Florence and the Machine fan, which some of the anti-video people should know isn’t a band but solo act. I also am very used to seeing racism and I am used to seeing horrific stereotypes being used against groups of people, so that’s part of why I don’t feel that this is racist.
If you think it would be different if I were black or a non-Florence Welch fan, then I point you to a blog entry that I agree with.