Youtube comedian Nicole Arbour has done a “woman’s edit” of Childish Gambino’s profound This is America music video and it’s bad, really bad. The kind of bad which makes you cringe, sigh and eye roll all at the same time.
It’s difficult to draw meaning from the nonsensical lyrics but I’m assuming Arbour is attempting to shed light on the hardships she (as a white woman in America) faces, like the fact she “just wanna be pretty” or that she’s “got rape” in her area.
Sure, once you wade through the crap and decipher her points, they’re valid and no doubt resonate with many women who are frustrated by the injustice of patriarchy. I’m a feminist, I get it.
The problem is she piggy-backed of a politically-charged piece of art which specifically highlights the black American experience.
It’s been a week since Gambino’s clip blasted through the monotonous noise and clutter on the internet and demanded attention. It woke us up and asked us to focus on the important issues which society at large is continuing to ignore: racism, gun violence and police brutality.
By parodying this work, Arbour is effectively discounting Gambino and the plight of the black Americans.
Perhaps Arbour should’ve looked to the work of the New Zealand students who parodied Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines if she needed some guidance on how to appropriate appropriately.
In 2013, students took Thicke’s film clip which was rife with misogyny and naked women and put their own feminist spin on it. The spoof was successful because it took a piece of work that had an inherently bad message and gave it a good one. This Is America didn’t require the same attention.
Arbour’s work appears to be far less thought out. Even if she’s trying to be a good feminist her muddled messaging and cultural insensitivity limits the piece’s success.
And it pales in comparison to the SlutWalks or silent protests her fellow feminists are orchestrating. Those women are doing it right.
Looking through Arbour’s YouTube and Twitter, it’s clear she consistently uses shock to extend her online profile. Even bad press is good press when you’re desperate to get followers.
And Arbour is no stranger to controversy, she’s made headlines for her Dear Fat People fat-shaming video.
But look, there are just some things which you shouldn’t touch.
Once Arbour started receiving criticism, Arbour posted on YouTube to defend her work:
“The purpose of my rendition was to honour the spirit of the video which absolutely moved me, by adding my and many women’s life experiences and truths to the brave and brutal truths expressed in the original,” she wrote.
“It was a tongue in cheek way to give additional glory to what I believe is the most impactful piece of art in recent years.”
Yeah, we’re not convinced.