Imagine wearing every discriminatory slur and comment hurled towards you as a Post-It note on your body. That’s the premise behind Houston-based punk band Giant Kitty’s new video for ”The Simple Stuff,” which premieres today.
The video, which you can see above, depicts several characters wearing the weight of society’s prejudices against them. A man places a note that reads “You’re an ENGINEERING Ph.D. student?” on a Black woman working in a science lab. A Brown man wears one that says “TERRORIST” during a job interview. His interviewer looks over a resume with notes that read “BETTER OFF UNDER U.S. RULE” and “ALL MIDDLE EASTERN PEOPLE ARE THE SAME” while her own computer features “SMILE FOR ME” and “CALM DOWN PRINCESS.” Through these scenes and others, Giant Kitty’s four members—Miriam Hakim (vocals), Cassandra Chiles (guitar), Glenn Gilbert (bass) and Trinity Quirk (drums)—perform with stickers on their own bodies. As Hakim told us via email, each person in the video mined their own experiences for the Post-Its they wore. One comment Hakim, whose father is Syrian, endured in real life—”Are those boobs or bombs?”—appears on one of her sticky notes.
“Take a little bit every day ‘til you don’t feel the burn/It’ll never taste good but eventually you’ll learn to swallow,” belts lead vocalist Miriam Hakim over the song’s chorus. As Hakim explained to us, she wrote the song’s lyrics partly in response to the A.E. Housman poem, ”Terence, This is Stupid Stuff”:
One of [the poem’s] main themes is this idea of building up a tolerance to poison (or negative things in the world) by taking a little at a time. When I thought about this in regards to prejudice and discrimination, I thought it was bullshit. Little (and big) instances of prejudice and discrimination don’t make it easier to take, they tear you down more and make it harder to focus on things you actually want to focus on.
Hakim described the video as an extension of the song’s message:
I don’t think microaggressions desensitize their recipients to discrimination and hatred. They just desensitize everyone else to noticing and listening when someone around them says “someone hurt me.” We made the video mostly as a show of solidarity, to send a message to people that no one is imagining these things that people say and do to them and that the fact that it happens is terrible.
*Note: post has been updated to reflect accurate song lyrics and note that each person in the “This Stupid Stuff” video wore Post-It notes with comments heard in their own lives.