Hercules and Love Affair on the word ‘cunt’

A new video debuted exclusively on V Magazine‘s website for the song ‘My Offence’ from Hercules and Love Affair.

The video is part short documentary, part music video, and it discusses the reclamation of the word ‘cunt’ by different people within the LGBT+ community. The interview subjects are people who have made a name for themselves in the New York creative scene, including Kalup Linzy, Honey Dijon, Juliana Huxtable, and Contessa Stuto. Together, they discuss how a word that was and is still known in many circles as the most disrespectful insult towards a woman is being used as one of the highest compliments within their community.

The song ‘My Offence’ is the third single from Hercules and Love Affair’s newest album, The Feast of the Broken Heart.  According to Hercules & Love Affair’s Andy Butler, the song was inspired by his own relationship with the word and how the word has a special place in feminist and queer history.

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The video itself is stunning, with amazing use of color. Most of the interview subjects are placed in front of brightly colored, florescent-lit backgrounds while some are filmed in what looks like a dimly lit club or bar setting. The interviews are complemented with the song playing in the background as well as performances. The song plays in the background while the verses are being sung, but the audio comes to the forefront during the chorus where you find Krystle Warren, the song’s featured artist, singing:

‘My essence is my offence (Let yourself feel cunt, cunt)’

In addition to releasing the video, V Magazine also conducted an interview with Butler as well as Matt Lambert, the music video’s director.  When asked about where the line came from, Hercules and Love Affair’s Andy Butler said it came from a direct quote from Andrea Dworkin. He goes on to say, ‘…and they speak to the notion that the very physical identifier of the female form is the root of what is wrong with her-and that one nominative word attached to it is coincidentally or not so coincidentally also the most offensive in the English language.’

‘Juliana [Huxtable] once did an interview and was asked what the greatest shade she’d ever thrown was.  She answered, Existing in this world,’ added Lambert.

‘This is something we touched briefly on in the video and has a magical statement that has resonated for me.  There’s an absurdity in the notion that the people who are responsible for evolving the way humanity, society and pop culture look at identity, sexuality, gender, and aesthetics – people who I consider to be almost holy – can also be perceived by others as obscene by the sheer nature of their existence. The essence of them that makes them such outstanding humans is the same thing that can be deemed offensive. This contradiction and the opposing forces that exist within culture are what move us forward.’

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The discussions and debates over linguistic reclamation in the LGBT+ community are nothing new, and no two people are going to have the exact same views as Lambert points out.

‘I spoke to some of the people that appeared in the video for over an hour on the subject. Each of them had a different answer and different relationship to the word “cunt” as well as the appropriation and reclamation of profane language as a means for pushing culture forward,’ said Lambert.
‘We could – and maybe should – make an hour-long documentary with all this footage. [Laughs] With each conversation, I thought I’d get closer to understanding the subject – and thought I was quite versed in it before I started – but now realize how dense it all is. Language, especially when dealing with issues surrounding identity, defines people’s realities whether they choose to embrace or ignore it.’

Hercules and Love Affair are currently performing for festivals around Europe. After that, the group plans to tour in different parts of the world including North America, South America, and Asia.

Readers can listen to The Feast of the Broken Heart now on Spotify and iTunes. Readers can also read the full interview with V Magazine here.