Ali Kurr directs STFU! Music Video for Rina Sawayama
As a Japanese woman growing up in the Western world, the concept behind ‘STFU!’ was born out of Rina’s own experiences, her inner angst about micro-insults and all too familiar stereotypes.
The film begins with a dialogue between Rina and her frustratingly ignorant date, written by Rina and script writer Isobel Rogers. Set in an upmarket Japanese restaurant Rina is hit with a barrage of offensive, insensitive and stereotypical statements and questions about her race, leading her to explode with rage and disbelief at what is taking place. Isobel said of the dialogue, ”we knew we wanted to write something honest and funny in the script in order to avoid being moralistic. Asking questions like ‘where are you from?’ can come from a place of kindness but also feel invasive; and in this case the date isn’t interested in listening for answers. It was important to cast someone smart and funny enough to play with these tensions carefully and make the experience cathartic for Rina.”
Born in Japan, Rina and her family emigrated to the UK when she was five years old. Talking about the inspiration behind the single and video, Rina explains: “‘STFU!’ is a song about releasing the RAGE against micro-aggressions. As a Japanese girl growing up in the West I dealt with an array of aggressors ranging from sexual stereotypes, comparisons
with Lucy Liu and Cho Chang, to having to be the unofficial PR person and tourist board to Tokyo. It was a truly therapeutic experience to condense all the things that people have said to me over the years into a situation that highlights how ridiculous these comments are when said all in one go in a context of flattery.”
Darkroom Director Ali Kurr said of the project: “When I came on to ‘STFU!’, [Partizan director] Rianne White and Rina had already conceived such an incredible creative vision that it was a dream to jump on board. What I loved most about the concept is how it fucks with your conceptions of what a pop video is going to give you. You've got these sleek visuals mashed up with comic-horror moments that are juxtaposed with incredible dancing that is so powerful and commanding even the steadicam Op was being pushed off set!”
“Complementing the sonic nods to noughties nu-metal are the visuals that pay homage to 'The Ring', 'Kill Bill' and the ICONIC Agent Provocateur ads with Dita Von Teese (She's Lost Control Again). We're challenging the idea of lithe bodies passively being digested by the viewer by instead having an incredible protagonist who's calling the presentation of women in Pop into question. It's entertaining as well as defiant, which makes the film this incredible hybrid that Rina calls ‘futurist-pop'."