4 Reasons Why We Never Needed Nicole Arbour's 'This Is America: Women's Edit' Video
"Call me the Rebecca Whisperer, cause Nicole Arbour, you're cancelled."
May 16, 2018 at 5:09 pm
I'd hate to say I have an affinity for dragging yt women who feel compelled to remix black artistry, but if the shoe fits ... ask Ali Spagnola. In case you don't know, Canadian comedian Nicole Arbour has blessed us once again with her unnecessarily controversial presence. Last weekend, she posted "This is America: Women's Edit," giving us her "take" on the Childish Gambino music video that has been trending for the better part of the month.
If you haven't seen the video, here's a 30-second recap: Arbour sings about issues that impact women in 2018, and she tap dances at the end. Voila! On the surface, I'm sure there are a few of you who don't see anything wrong with that, and yeah, OMG, people have the right to freedom of expression, like WTF, Erika?!
You're right, valley girl in my head. They do. The problem is that this ain't Nikki's first rodeo with erasing the issues of disenfranchised people with her Great Value brand of generalized social commentary. If you don't remember, this is the same woman that made the video, "Dear Fat People," that fat shames like a muva under the guise of self-help. She also believes depression is totally something that's "all in your head" because she cured her own depression by cheering herself on everyday. OK, girlfriend.
The real problem with Nicole Arbour is that she has made a living off of appropriating life experiences she has never had. Nicole has been "on" since the early 2000s, and to some misguided folks, she's actually lauded as a real comedian. She was even voted "the world's sexiest comedian;" don't ask me what committee was responsible for overlooking the likes of Hasan Minaj when those votes were tallied. So, I believe it's only right to volunteer myself as tribute and to give Nicole the attention she so deserves, and to offer her this: a formal drag. Call me the Rebecca Whisperer, cause Nicole Arbour, you're cancelled.
Again, actually, cause girl, you been problematic AF for a long time now.
Here are for reasons why we never needed Nicole Arbour's "This is America: Women's Edit."
1. Nicole Has a Sordid History of Erasure and Shameless Self-Promotion
As I've mentioned, Nicole has a M.O. of making videos addressed to issues she really doesn't have. Not that being "fat" is an issue, but Nicole's presumption that addressing the so-called 35 percent of North Americans who are considered obese was her job is laughable. So, when her video for "This is America" video popped up, it smelt fishy. I watched it. I did. And while I believe the "funny lady" had a goal to add some layers of female "empowerment" without detracting from the political symbolism of Gambino's original, the problem arises when she is a part of the problem she's claiming we need to fix. It's hard to take someone seriously when they try to smash the patriarchy by drawing attention away from the "cause" and directly to themselves. Like I said, she tap dances at the end of the video. You know, cause she's also a choreographer. I'm all for self-promotion, love, but click-baiting folks into self-promotion by hiding it under white feminism is kinda overdone these days. Which leads me to ...
2. The Video Is A Women's Edit, for Who?
I found myself wondering which women edited this video, because even though there's a speckle of diverse faces and bodies, I didn't really get a message from women, similar to Gambino's call out of American racism from a black perspective. I mean, when Nicole watched the original video, probably all of once, she must've gotten the underlying picture: this is a surface level attempt to generalize racism. The striking images in the video are inspired from real life events and decades of subliminal projections of blackness. Nicole is a comedian, so we're not expecting all of that from her, right? Wrong. We are. And we have every right to. In case you've forgotten, Donald Glover is also a comedian, and a music artist, and a writer, and an actor. If he can be so multi-faceted, so can you dearie.
The fact of the matter is, from the very beginning, "This is America: Women's Edit" is très harmful. The controversial moment where Childish Gambino shoots an unarmed/masked person of color is replaced with a black woman holding a child. Let's stop there, girl. Don't you know the very, very, very, talked about schism between black and white women when it comes to feminism? Don't you know the assumptions of black motherhood, and how white women have complicated that narrative since slavery? Yeah, I'm going back to slavery, as it is the creator of the socially constructed racial divide that is America. The wives of plantation owners deliberately stripped black women of the opportunity to raise their own children to suckle white children. In most cases, black babies were stripped away from their mother's chests to make room for white children. Which is why the choice to replace shooting the black woman with someone snatching her and her child away after Arbour takes a photo of them is childish and no version of feminism I want. Before you make these "edits," Nic, make sure to learn the history behind all women's struggles. Making vague comments about rape culture by referencing date rape and stigmatization of rape victims is a start, but it does not excuse you of doing the heavy work that is making an actual artistic statement for a cause you believe in. If, you in fact do believe in it.
3. Nicole Has Done Absolutely Nothing for Our Culture
According to Nicole, black folks appropriate Polish culture by eating pickles at the cookouts she's seen us at. Yeah. I dug up her "Dear Black People" video, and fam, do me a favor and don't watch it. It is the stuff of early morning micro-aggression fueled rage. For one, baybay, you have clearly never read the definition of appropriation. And featuring your "black friend" as insurance (@LatoyaForever) don't impress me much, especially since she only serves as a visual gag for your tired ahh stop wearing blonde hair if you want us to not appropriate your style argument, as though there are not black folks who naturally have blonde hair. I'm sorry if you're butt hurt that you can't say the "N-word" in cool rap songs, and that you believe Drake doesn't have the right to its usage because he grew up in the suburbs. Yeah. To be black means to be born into poverty and struggle.
Now that we get your limited understanding of black culture and racism that impacts the lives of black folks, it's not so hard to understand why you wouldn't see the issue in colonizing Childish Gambino's very black music video weeks after it was released to the public. Its no big deal. Black folks are kinda used to white folks "allowing" us safe spaces to heal, then yanking them back when the healing is a little too real for you. New flash: your edits were noted and rejected by the congregation. Black folks aren't here for you, no matter how many of us you can con into your videos for sound bites. We see your tweets, and we know your Canadian heart isn't really for our American disenfranchisements, so please remix videos of Weird Al or something. We're off limits to you.
4. The Video Is Only 4 Days Old and She's Already Posted A Response
I mean, I write a lot, but I don't know if I would've had a statement of purpose prepared less than a week after my controversial video was posted, unless I anticipated having to defend my "message."
That's exactly what she did. Arbitration's "goal' was to comment on life from her side, because as we know, white women love to equate their struggles with sexism to the lives of black folks. I can't even adequately paraphrase this half-assed justification, so here's an excerpt of it:
"It was created with every intention of bringing a light to women’s experiences such as the shaming of mothers breast feeding, common place date rape drugging, the labels put on us of “prude or hoe,” pressures to create a family, workplace harassment, the glass ceiling, drug dependency, effects of social media on modern relationships and self, and included a nod to the cheerleaders who have come forward demanding at least min wage from the multi million dollar corporations they work for. 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.In retrospect, due to the sensitive nature of the original, I understand why some people are wrongly portraying this as white vs black."
Nah, you made this into a white versus black thing as soon as you chose to remake a video about black experiences into one about whatever it is you tried to do. I get it, some of those things are issues all women face, but they are also not exclusive to women. Men face the risk of date rape and social media pressure as well. When calling out rape culture, you can just call out rape culture. While the glass ceiling is a real thing, and I'm sure making the breastfeeding mother black was an oversight, you cannot, and I repeat, you cannot continue to generalize the experiences of others in the name of activism and creative expression.
If you truly want people of all backgrounds to make their own versions of this video, you could simply make impactful content that actually addresses societal evils with attention to the potential after-effects your voice has on the populations you seek to represent. As a woman, I did not find your video insightful, nor inspirational. I saw it as a mockery of some of the experiences of women you represent, experiences that unfortunately, I know all too well.
Tell me, Nicole, what's your end goal? Do you want to foster conversations about rape culture? Do you? If so, I would be more than willing to have a dialogue with you. As a survivor of sexual assault, it too is an issue dear to my heart. If your goal is just to get some clicks off trauma dressed like a humorless parody, miss me and the rest of America with it.
I'll leave you with this: go back to the drawing board. You've got the attention you wanted, so what are you going to do with it? Stop saying sorry not sorry and actually take accountability for the trolling you're so convinced is comedy.
A little rule I always abide by is this: if they ain't laughing, it's not cause they don't get the joke, it's cause you're not funny.
Also, when black people see you, we don't have the urge to yell WORLD STAR. Nah. We got something better in mind, and I'm not going to tell you what it is. That's how black privilege works.