Lily Allen answers accusations of racism in video for ‘Hard Out Here’

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After her years-long hiatus from music, Lily Allen fans had reason to smile when her new video for “Hard Out Here” surfaced. But a few of those grins turned to groans after critics began questioning whether or not the irony-laced video trafficked in some stereotypes of women of color. The clip depicts a fully clothed Allen surrounded by scantily clad black female dancers performing stereotypical “twerking” moves, while she’s pointedly more reserved in her dancing and spends much of the video mocking mainstream rap and pop culture tropes.

The song’s satirical video was clearly trying to poke fun at pop music sexism (including some riffs on recent videos like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”). But some wondered if Allen wasn’t trying to have it both ways, and that the women of color dancing in her video came off a little too stereotypically to safely be satire.

On Twitter (where she’s previously engaged in a few race-charged feuds), Allen wrote a long response to that criticism. While it explains her thinking behind the video’s concept, it is definitely not any kind of apology.

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“The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture,” she wrote. “It has nothing to do with race, at all.” She said that she tried for weeks to get her own twerk moves down but couldn’t get it right, and so hired the best dancers for the job; and that the reason she was more clothed was insecurity about her figure (reminding fans that she did have two children recently).

“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,” she wrote, before concluding with an invitation to “Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist @SelizaShowtime @melycrisp.”

See Allen’s whole long response here. This wasn’t the conversation Allen probably hoped to be having about her video right now, but we can all lament that it extended the pop cultural lifespan of “twerking controversies” for at least another few weeks.


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