Watch: Arcade Fire’s “We Exist”

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My first encounter with Arcade Fire came in 2010, when I listened to The Suburbs on shuffle so that I could prepare myself for their live show at Bonnaroo that year. They played at nighttime, when the heat had finally receded and the crowd was covered in neon. While “We Used to Wait” and “Ready to Start” blared, the audience watched David Lynchian, black and white clips play behind the band. Since that night, I’ve come to appreciate Arcade Fire’s work. However, I don’t listen to them enough, and that needs to change. Most recently, a friend exposed me to one of their newest and somewhat controversial music videos, “We Exist,” from their most recent album Reflector. The video follows Andrew Garfield as he dresses in drag and goes to a bar. The video is heartbreaking and intense but has a happy ending. Ultimately, the video brings attention to gender identity and transgender rights. Although a powerful video, and well directed by David Wilson, Win Butler received backlash for his decision to cast a non-transgender to play the role of the young man in drag. Butler defends the result, “For an actor of that caliber to be that emotionally invested in a music video is just a very special thing. It just completely made sense.” Either way, the music video is as hypnotizing as the song itself.

Nikki grew up in an imitation German town in Georgia by the name of Helen. It wasn’t until middle school that she started to get interested in the arts: painting, music, and writing. She wrote in her diary, sketched in art class and listened to regretful music. By high school, her tastes became a little more refined. She found Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Giant Drag, and they remain her favorites in college. She was accepted to the University of Georgia in 2012 and is currently majoring in English. Upon moving to Athens from a town with more trees than people, Nikki was a bit overwhelmed. However, there is certainly no lack of inspiration in Athens, and she appreciates its love for the arts and its service as a platform.

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