Sky Ferreira And The Fetishization Of Blackness
  • THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014

  • Posted by: Tayi Sanusi

Following the release of Sky Ferreira's new music video "I Blame Myself" (which you can watch at SSENSE), the young singer encountered a backlash as some viewers criticized its racial undertones. In the video she portrays a gang leader whose posse is made up entirely of young black men. Sky responded to the her critics on Facebook, denying any racial implications last night.

Let me just start off by acknowledging that I don't believe Sky Ferreia is a racist and I think her being labeled as one is not only insensitive, but presumptuous. Ironically, I found her music video "I Blame Myself" to also be both insensitive and presumptuous and as a person of color I find this music video to be less a reflection of her personal morality and more so to be a symptom of a much larger issue that plagues the music industry; the fetishization of blackness. We see it over and over again by both white musicians and those of color...the need to feel included and connected to the trendiness of struggle and the prospect of having legit street cred.

I don't, however, believe that art should ever be censored no matter what you have to say and how offensive some may find it; we should all have the freedom to express our intellectual and/or emotional situations in the artistic ways we see fit. I think Sky Ferreira, if anything, is oblivious to the implications that come along with the motifs in her music video and isn't concerned with being culturally sensitive nor aware. But I think that can also be said of 99 percent of musicians today. The question becomes, would we even want to live in a world where music revolved around being politically correct and sensitive? Yes, being a white woman rollin' through Compton with your black crew is badass and cool, but it would be beyond ignorant to think that it's supposed to represent any kind of reality. What happens to the men and women who wake up to that reality everyday? There's nothing cute or trendy about it.

The current climate of the music industry and pop culture is based on the premise of perfection and considering we're all highly flawed creatures, something will always be off...if Sky has black back up dancers she must be "using them as props", but if she filmed that same music video with all white men everyone would be accusing her of being a white supremacist... she can't win. Ultimately, it's not even about winning. I think art and music should be a dialogue and at the end of the day if objectifying minorities or fetishizing certain lifestyles is where your bliss lies...to each his own. My question is what the hell prompted her to choose to shoot her video in the "quintessential ghetto" the song seems at odds with the dramatic action of the video. The saddest part is that this is a shitty song slapped in the context of a seemingly unrelated cinematic experience. But wait...here's the real kicker...according to the behind-the-scenes footage, the music video is based on real events! Yeah, I'm gonna need to see some solid documentation of that.

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