Arcade Fire’s video for their single “We Exist,” which features a man who dresses as a woman, sparked a backlash from some transgenders, the victims of bigotry the message intends to support. The critics claim the band are representing an experience they didn’t personally understand.
In the Q Magazine column “Good Intentions,” writer Dorian Lynskey (August 2014) called out the detractors for being inappropriately “prescriptive about what pop music should do” and for their “bizarrely high expectations.”
Similarly, rapper Macklemore is accused by some as profiting from gay rights with his provocative hit “Same Love.” One critic, Lynskey points out, determined the well-intentioned artist did “more harm than good by failing to take into account the socio-historical climate he is attempting to address.” The critic neglected to mention featured vocalist Mary Lambert is gay. Or, more obviously, appreciate that pop songs typically are only three to five minutes long.
Lynskey rightfully asserts, “But truth and power don’t only come from personal experience. … If the words ring true, does it matter who wrote them?”
The goal of professional public relations is to adjust public opinion to support a social cause or movement. This is ultimately achieved when those of us who are unaffected by discrimination or other injustice become as indignant as those who are. Invariably, it is impartial sources – such as policyshapers, educators and other authorities; as well as high-profile celebrities, athletes and musicians — whose independent validation most influences target audiences.
Instead of victims fretting their obstacles are being co-opted by others, Lynskey justifiably asks, “If ‘We Exist’ and ‘Same Love’ (and ‘Ohio’ by CSN&Y and ‘In the Ghetto’ by Elvis, among others) are sincere statements of empathy and reach a wide audience, then why let the perfect be the enemy of the good?”