Stuart Murdoch Responds to Article on Racism in Indie Rock: “Aw, F*ck Off”

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Pitchfork has been nailing it lately. They recently started a discussion in the electronic music community with an article titled “EDM Has a Problem With Women, and It’s Getting Worse“.

Yesterday, Pitchfork posted an article by Sarah Sahim titled The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie.  The article starts off by criticizing Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian for his film God Help the Girl.  Murdoch purposefully restricted casting of the film’s leads to white actors and actresses. The film is about a young woman with anorexia:

“As a lover of Belle and Sebastian, I was disappointed, though certainly not surprised.  Over their entire discography, a grand total of two people of color have graced their album artwork, appearing on the cover of Storytelling.  While Storytelling commodifies the cover girls’ culture, Belle and Sebastian commodify Whiteness; God Help the Girl merely underscores this.  The film itself is an egregious mess that romanticizes a woman’s struggles with an eating disorder for the sake of Murdoch’s self-promotion.  The optimistic, happy-go-lucky and painstakingly adorable aesthetic evidenced in every character he created is founded in Whiteness.  Whiteness is beauty; Whiteness is what gives the character the ability to dream of fostering a career in music; Whiteness is what enables the audience to empathize with Eve’s character.  A recurring filler in the film was a fictitious radio show where two men try to decipher what “real” indie is and every band mentioned is white, enforcing the film’s aspirational Whiteness.  While Belle and Sebastian aren’t the only examples of perpetuating Whiteness through indie rock, this movie serves as a microcosmic view of what is wrought by racial exclusivity that is omnipresent in indie rock.

Stuart Murdoch responded to the article on Twitter today…




29 Responses

  1. obama

    dmn = left wing platform for gender equality homo multiculturalism propaganda

  2. Anonymous

    yeah let me know when they do the too many blacks in urban article, see if they got some balls to say something midst a well know g game, or if they only feel safe slagging off the hipster indy whitey crowd…

    aint like they some ss regime or something, geez…

    turn everyone inside out and then lets see how we all compare…

    as far as i can think it out, we have different skin color based on where we lived over millions of years, so blacks lived in more desert type areas and whites lived more in colder northern type places, i mean, thats what it seems like to me, as a glacier moves centimeters a year, skin color changes over a long period of time, and then we are born and suddenly we think we are the center of the universe and we know all, forgetting that this rock has been spinning here for a long long long time, so perhaps what we see with our eyes is actually something playing out over so many of our life times that it would be hard to count, so ultimately we are complete moronic idiots to divide by race, one of the dumbest most stupidest lamest pea brained small minded idiotic things to do really, its simple…

  3. Adam

    I hapoen to believe that you cannot force multi-culturism on more homogenous societies or groups. I am all for doing Away with racism. Pressuring where bands with majority white audiences that appeal to majority white fans (note majority, I’m aware there clearly are some non-white fans…) isn’t going to help anyone. Is the author of this article saying that all-white bands need to work hard to be less white just because, you know, racism?? I find that kind of ridiculous personally, am I wrong?

    • Whelan

      You aren’t wrong, Sarah Sahim is a racist, how her article managed to get published is anyone’s guess and p4k has lost any credibility with me for publishing this racist drivel.

  4. Anonymous

    At this rate, the next article is going to be about how in Hip Hop and Rab videos, someone from pitchfork thinks that there aren’t enough white people, and that the only white people are white women who are half naked… And they better work on that because, you know, hip hop is too black…

    I’m sorry but I find this new pitchfork article to be a joke??? You’re telling me that belle and Sebastian actually has non-white fans? Jeeze I had no idea. I’ve been to their concerts… Saw maybe one Indian or middle eastern looking girl, no black people, maybe a Hispanic or two… Jeeze why do we even need to get into this?

    • Anonymous

      At this rate, the next article is going to be about how in Hip Hop and Rab videos, someone from pitchfork thinks that there aren’t enough white people, and that the only white people are white women who are half naked

      i know right, They’re stealing all our white women, damn genetically enhanced midsections, i demand justice, who allows the white woman to make the choice herself?? Preposterous, blasphemy, i demand justice!!!! lol We must go hit all white woman over head with club and drag back to rightful cave, seriously, what the heck is going on out there these days???


      • Slainte

        And you conflate the original comment’s point with sexism…

  5. Anonymous

    To say that Belle & Sebastian are an example of the racism inherent in “indie music” is utter bollocks. To say that people who decide to make music in a cold climate, where the predominant skin-tone is “white”, are somehow existing at the expense and exclusion of people of a darker skin tone is absolutely preposterous and actually racist. If you feel that your “race” is under-represented in “indie” music then convince more people of your “race” to make more indie music – don’t blame bands who, through no fault or decision of their own have, due to to the angle of the sun in the latitude in which they exist, ended up with a skin tone slightly lighter than yours. Stop looking at the colour of people’s skin and make some music!

  6. JJ

    Right on, Stuart! Prattle like this racist woman’s article should be flushed down the toilet.

  7. loveboat

    Nailing it?? Murdoch’s response to this idiotic Pitchfork article was great. This woman thinks that recording artists need to fill some type of quota of non-white humans on their album artwork and in their videos? Absurd.
    The worst thing about it is that people who are easily influenced, and there are too many of those, will actually end up walking away thinking she has a valid point. There is a severe lack of integrity in internet journalism. A dangerous thing.

  8. jw

    Look. I don’t want a white & a hispanic in NWA. And I don’t need an asian or a black guy playing in Willie Nelson’s band. And I don’t need an ethnic rainbow on the cover of a Belle & Sebastian record.

    Do what you do. And let other people do what they do. We’re not all existing simply to fill quotas.

    Just because something isn’t multiethnic doesn’t make it racist or oppressive. And just because something is multiethnic doesn’t make it better. Case & point… Cowboy Troy. You can be completely against the idea of Cowboy Troy & at the same time completely in support of Charlie Pride, but let’s just be honest with ourselves… a black country singer like Charlie Pride (or Darius Rucker, if you will, who is probably somewhere in the middle of Charlie & Troy) doesn’t come along very often.

    There’s a nuanced conversation to have about race in music, but it’s certainly not going to happen at Pitchfork.

    If I never hear the words “microaggression” or “trope” ever again, it will be way too soon.

    Here’s hoping this hypersensitivity falls out of fashion very soon.

    • Plum Minnow Publishing

      These are reasons these whole crowdfunding and participation fads concern me, people feeling they actually are involved in the creation process, as you say, let who’s doing it do it, as they see fit…

      Perhaps this sarah sahim should commission some Indie Rock records so that she can then dictate what she wants and how she wants it, else make it herself, otherwise it’s kind of shut up and be happy with what you get and then don’t bother the creator about it…

      This is where the internet and the media are a bit of a problem, it’s too bad they couldn’t just get together in some coffee shop offline and off air to gripe over something that bothers them regarding something they don’t do or don’t know how to do, as i can assure them, we all take enough of a beating as it is the last thing we need is them jumping on hater bandwagons…

      If Stuart didn’t solicit this article and also did not approve of it, is he getting a portion of the revenue it generates? If not would that not then leave him with the leverage to litigate? Personality rights anyone?

  9. RT.

    The Pitchfork article in question is genuinely one of the worst pieces that I have ever read. By Pitchfork rules of judging I would give it a 2.7. Its central conceit is entirely flawed and in fact muddies the actual problems of racism – none of which, as far as I can see, are present in Murdoch’s film. To criticise a movie that is set in a specific part of the world and has a limited cast for being “racist” because it does not feature any Asian or African-American actors is inherently ridiculous. It’s the equivalent of criticising a French Language film for not featuring any Germans, a film set in Brazil for not having enough Canadians or a movie about a singing contest for not having enough profoundly deaf or mute actors. Of course, there are not enough films that deal with the issues of race, and there is no doubt that in Hollywood there is an ongoing problem with caucasian actors being treated preferentially, but this is in the slow process of changing.

    The article is further confused by its lazy accusation about the “unbearable whiteness of indie” (a typically reductive journalistic heading that on cursory inspection doesn’t really mean anything) that implies that indie is also inherently racist. At this point I could direct Sahim to the likes of Bloc Party, Young Fathers, TV On The Radio etc. (and there could be a possible tangent here on the involvement of black artists in the origins of the Punk genre) but one suspects that this list would not be enough. Further, to criticise Kim Gordon, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus for their “mass appeal white feminism” is laughable (in fact, the more that I read this article, with its ad hominem sideswipes at Bono and Wes Anderson, the more that I believe that it is a deliberate wind-up). To criticise a white person for not being black is farcical – one wonders how furious an outcry there would have been if it had been the other way around.

    Not surprised that Pitchfork have not allowed comments on this laughable puff piece that is more about the author’s own beef with Murdoch’s film than it is with journalistic integrity. It does not help the very real issue of racism one bit.

  10. Anonymous

    Don’t trust anyone who pretends to be sensible (like Pitchfork). That kind of shallow, immature “knowingness” has ended up hurting us minorities more than any biased attitude.

  11. White devil

    Whiteness is Totally evil. All white people are evil. Instead of using oppressive social constructs like reason and logic, let me attempt to manipulate your emotions to match mine. It’s okay that rap is mostly black, but indie is totally evil because it is mostly white.

    Let me also try to give you white guilt by bringing up atrocities that happened over a century ago.
    *end of satire*. You wouldn’t want me to say that blackness is a bad thing, so don’t imply that whiteness is a bad thing. I’m white and proud. If you wish to call me a racist, go right ahead.

  12. Seriously?

    Criticizing “whiteness” is no different than criticizing any other people for their color. It’s blatant racism that’s trying to parade around as moral superiority.

  13. Not important

    Pissing and moaning over stupid shit. I am weary of all this self-loathing “I’m white and privileged” hypocrisy. Go join a fucking convent or something. Jeezus Fucking Christ already!!!!

  14. Stewart McAlister

    I am shocked and genuinely outraged by the racism of the original article and… as a fellow Glaswegian… impressed my Mr Murdoch’s response. If this is the kind of thing that passes for acceptable critisism in the modern world then common sense is dead.

  15. Not a white guy lol

    thank you previous commenters… white man tears are my favourite kind.

    Stuart Murdoch appropriates the stories of women and PoC for his stories and has a very narrow aesthetic view of what can be beautiful.

    maybe Stuart Murdoch didn’t meet any people in Glasgow that weren’t white. That’s sure not my experience of the city but give him the benefit of the doubt. The movie isn’t a true story. It’s fiction. The story didn’t happen to the actors, they’re just pretending. I don’t see why anyone would restrict actors that aren’t white from pretending their story is real. I mean, white guys have pretended to be non-white characters often enough on screen, audiences get it, no big deal. Oh but there is a word to describe people who don’t think opportunities should go to people that have different coloured skin… oh what’s the word, it’s on the tip of my tongue…

    • Jon

      The thing that gets me is that you’re essentially saying “You know, what this musician did… I don’t think it was fair” and then acting like you’re fighting the fucking final battle between God and the Devil. Who gives a shit if someone wants white people in their own god damned movie? You are free to dislike it if you really dislike “Whiteness” that much, but I’m wondering why it’s necessary to pretend that it’s due to some kind of moral superiority? Why do you have to be “correct” about things? Why do you require other people to think as you do?