Palace Walls


Lily Allen’s Racist New Music Video, “Hard Out Here”

You can say please all you want, but at the end of the day most white people honestly just don’t care. Despite widespread criticism of Miley Cyrus for her racist cultural appropriation and use of black women as props in her videos, despite criticism of the likes of Lorde for their flippant degradation of the consumer choices and desires of poor black people, Lily Allen arrives in grand racist fashion with her debut track from her upcoming third album.

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.

Let’s just go through a few image stills from the video to start…

(Image description: Lily Allen in a golden room standing in front of a group of 6 female dancers, 4 black, 1 Asian (?) and 1 white)

Much of the video features Lily Allen dancing in a golden room in front of a primarily black group of female dancers. Of course, to contrast the sexuality and exotic nature of their bodies with the others and hers, the black women are dressed in leotards and bikinis while the others have jackets, pants and the like. But honestly, I pretty much just shrugged until the utter reduction of black women’s bodies to props and sexual objects commenced in quick haste…

(Image description: A torso of one of the black female dancers in a leotard with her hand over her vagina)

Wait… what?! We only later get to see this black woman’s face really well. Gotta start with the pussy shot of her body since clearly it’s her virile sexuality that’s the real focus here.

(Image description: the upper body and head of the black female dancer with her hands parted and her tongue out)

I guess… happy that we saw her face now at least? Oh but of course she has to be licking her hands and the air.

(Image description: White dancer sticking a dollar bill into the bra of a black female dancer with the latter dancer gasping and looking at the camera)

Any words necessary? It gets better, though, once Lily Allen switches scenes and gets to objectify them and contrast their “gratuitous” bodies with her white femaleness some more.

(Image description: Lily Allen in a fur coat dancing in front of a car surrounded by her dancers twerking around her)

And it keeps going…

(Image description: Lily Allen dancing fully covered in front of a car surrounded by her dancers twerking around her)

Literally only your black dancers are the ones with much skin showing (no problem with that in and of itself but that deliberate contrast with yourself and your non black dancers is sickening) with you as the ~innocent~ white woman dancing fully clothed around them and even one of them on all fours twerking next to you?! Jesus fucking Christ. 

But it keeps going… (I told ya’ll this was bad)

(Image description: One black female dancer in a bikini pouring champagne down her chest)

And going….

(Image description: One black female dancer in a bikini twerking and slapping her own ass as champagne is poured on it by another black female dancer in a bikini)

Since you know, black female bodies and twerking (a form of black female expression with their bodies) are all so funny and a joke, WHY NOT END BY SMACKING ONE OF THEM ON THE ASS TO REASSERT YOUR DOMINANCE AND PRIVILEGE OVER THEM AS A WHITE WOMAN?

Oh wait, she did that too:

(Image description: Animated gif image of Lily Allen laughing and slapping one of her twerking black female dancers on the ass)

I feel sick to my stomach so I didn’t even have the energy to screencap and post the scene where Lily Allen is dancing alone in a dress adorned with images of The Notorious B.I.G. and another one where her and her white manager are attempting to learn how to “twerk” from the black dancers. I just don’t have it in me.

What I can say, though, is that the video is sickening. It is meant to be a critique of popular culture and consumerism but employs and denigrates black female bodies to do so and elevate her status as a white woman. The lyrics of the song are also so indicative of this:

"I don’t need to shake my ass for you because I got a brain"

So women (and I’m guessing you really mean black women, right, Lily?) who shake their asses are all stupid and have no value, huh? 

What’s all so funny in the midst of this is that Lily Allen has said that her upcoming album has “feminist vibes” to it, which is all too indicative of why black women (and other WOC) feel so detached from the mainstream white feminist movement. It’s why Alice Walker coined the word “womanist” to mark a departure from that movement into one that understood and saw the wholeness of her as a black woman. Intersectionality is important and erasing it, as many white feminists (and black men in discussions about race with black women) do only reveals the real intent of said movement to preserve and enshrine white womanhood at all costs even if it takes denigrating WOC to do so.

There is an incredibly valid critique to be made about hip hop culture and music videos which consistently demean black women, but to ignore her enormous privilege as a white woman and engage in exactly the same racist, degrading objectifying fuckery as Miley Cyrus (who this video was apparently at least partially a “dig” at) is disgusting to say the least. 

I keep asking myself when will white people learn, when will they stop degrading my sisters under the auspices of being “progressive,” and when will they stop lauding shit like this as “saving pop music,” but the depths and depravity of racism don’t make any sense, especially in the context of the racialized antiblack misogyny (misogynoir) that black women face every single day.

On that note, FUCK you Lily Allen and who asked you to drag your ass out of musical retirement in the first place? Despite loving your music (and finding this song catchy), I sure as hell want you to take your ass right back there ASAP.

And one last time for posterity…

(Image description: Animated gif image of Lily Allen laughing and slapping one of her twerking black female dancers on the ass)

The good news is that mainstream musicians are starting to notice that feminism exists. The bad news it that they seem to be on a 20 year lag, and they’re using racist, white lady feminism.

(Source: owning-my-truth, via internal-acceptance-movement)

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