The Secretly Canadian Newsletter

Today, ANOHNI shares a video for “Scapegoat,” the centerpiece of her latest album, My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross. Shortly after its release, Vulture praised “Scapegoat” as one of the Best Songs of 2023 (So Far) writing, “Both prayer and plight — a blunt assessment of our current world and a hope that its bigotry will eventually end.”

Directed by ANOHNI’s sister, the London-based filmmaker Sara Hegarty, the “Scapegoat” video depicts a young woman contained in isolation, who retreats within her mind to a pastoral world where a mandate of care protects her, and she is free to express joy, wonderment, and relief. The video asks whether such a society is within reach. The film was art directed by the photographer and visual artist Barbara Hegarty, and assisted by Ella Hegarty.

The song “Scapegoat” — co-written by ANOHNI and producer Jimmy Hogarth — articulates the crisis experienced by those caught in cycles of persecution, interweaving the intentions of a perpetrator with an omniscient voice, perhaps that of Nature herself. The lyrics are direct: “You’re so killable … disappear-able // This one we need not protect // This one’s a freebie for our guns // take this one to a place // You’d better have your way // Take all of my hate into your body.” ANOHNI refers alternately to victims of sexual assault, kidnapping, murder, gun violence, torture, and bullying. She asserts that certain human bodies are designated as expendable by our families, communities and societies.

In the final stanza, ANOHNI states: “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from // It doesn’t matter what you’ve got to give, or why you want to live // You’re my scapegoat // It’s not personal.” A crushing guitar solo commands the song’s finale. By stating “It’s not personal,” ANOHNI offers that the interior specificity of scapegoating victims exists beyond the insight, and the reach, of any perpetrator.

In contrast to the cruel scenarios described in the lyrics, Sara Hegarty’s  video depicts a feminine world in which a young woman imagines living a joyful life, free from fear.

“On listening to the lyrics of ‘Scapegoat,’ I felt the stark and naked pain of the experience of being a victim of scapegoating. My intention in making this film was to contrast this pain with a positive transformational experience, to present a path from brokenness to healing. The locations – from the derelict building at the start to the buttercup field – were carefully chosen to reflect the different stages of the journey. The end result is a film embracing a move towards the feminine, connectedness with others, and the earth.” – Sara Hegarty

“The essence of the film, in its story of moving from vulnerability and abandonment to personal power and strength, has a wider implication that is relevant to our world today. It offers a spiritual journey through darkness and despair into the joy and light of strong connection with others and the beauty and wonder of nature in all its glory. It can be seen as an expansive view of a way through individual and collective suffering.” – Barbara Hegarty.

“Life ebbs and flows. In this film I see the curious exploration of newness, a helping hand there for you if you only reach for it, joy and connection in the sunlight – even in the face of trying circumstances. This film reminds me of the importance of connection with those around me, and of the hidden talents we all have when we are given a chance to shine.” – Ella Hegarty

“The subjugation of women and the earth is one and the same. Enforce a global standard for the rights and ethical treatment of women, including the right to abortion. Relieve men of their roles as protectors and predators. Protect trans lives and people of color. Repattern societies to nurture the resurgence of biodiversity. Restore the female archetype as central to creation. Make it illegal to profit from the sale of fossil fuels, weapons, toxic chemicals, medicine, and the imprisonment of others. Globally redistribute hoarded resources. Criminalize the torture of animals. De-escalate the ‘necessity’ of economic growth. Prosecute war criminals and agents of corporate ecocide. Require global referendums on the development and proliferation of new technologies. Replace most men in seats of corporate, religious, and governmental power today with women.  Ask why we are more willing to succumb to the final destruction of the biosphere, the source of our lives, than explore changes such as these.” – ANOHNI Hegarty


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