Indie siren Florence Welch and her outfit Florence & The Machine have landed themselves in hot water after allegations their latest music video promotes racial stereotypes and demonises a religion.
The music video in question, for ‘No Light No Light’ of their latest album Ceremonials, was released just last Friday and stars Welch being chased by a black man who is using a perversion of voodoo practises as an evil ploy against the singer. Eventually a group of white choirboys and the church save Welch from the evil voodoo man.
The whole video has Christian religious overtones and the imagery and iconography used in the piece is supposed to reference the fight between light and dark.
‘No Light No Light’ was directed by Icelandic duo Arni & Kinski who have worked with a number of high profile musicians before including Sigur Ros, Snow Patrol, and Placebo.
But the video has irked many people around the world with many deeming the visuals as having a racial overtone that could be interpreted as racist, whether that was intentional or not. Heading the witch hunt against the video is Racialicious.com who wrote an article accusing the video of amounting to thinly veiled white supremacy.
“What these music videos show is the amount of misrepresentations around race that many (white) artists are able to use, all under the guise of ‘art'” wrote Julia Caron on Racialicious. “It happens in fashion photoshoots, music videos, films, books, etc on more occasions than one could possibly count. While it happens all the time, that does not make it any more defensible. And being a fan of an artist who makes a misstep and ends up creating something racist, intentionally or not, does not oblige you to running to their defense. Being a card-carrying fan of an artist or musician does not make them infallible.”
“Discussions about whether or not Welch is personally responsible for this racist music video have cropped up. When you break it down and imagine the number of people who were behind the storyboarding, choreographing, casting and creative direction around this video, it is slightly astounding that not one person raised concerns about how problematic this video is.”
People have also been highly critical of the video’s depiction of voodoo and the religions practises as being associated with evil. Jezabel.com critiqued the video frame by frame and had this to say about the depiction of voodoo:
“Haitian Vodou is a religion that is very misunderstood. Slaves were brought to the Caribbean against their will and forbidden to practice their traditional African religions as well as forced to convert to the religion of their masters. The Bond movie/Eurocentric/Americanized viewpoint presents Vodou as an evil, primitive version of witchcraft. But it’s a religion like any other, with a moral code, gods and goddesses. Many ceremonies deal with protection from evil spirits.”
“In addition, the “voodoo doll” itself has been misconstrued. In Haiti, it was traditional to nail small handmade puppets or dolls to trees near graveyards; these small figures were meant to act as messengers to the spirit world, and contact dead loved ones. It’s safe to imagine that European folks didn’t understand this — and assumed an evil intent behind a doll with nails in its body.”
Watch the video below and let us know if you think the video is racist, intentionally or not.