Grimes's newest album is apocalyptic zombie pop, filled with dreams of destruction.
At one point on Grimes' "4AEM," you hear something that sounds like a million little ghostly Internet children popping up from the digital world and laughing hysterically.
Grimes has always been an expert at using her childlike voice to her advantage—she rips into the delusion of youthful innocence and femininity and turns it into something thoroughly haunted, all the more so because of how pure it sounds.
Her latest album, Miss Anthropocene, is the sound of young things fracturing, of womanhood splitting into pieces, of the earth burning, the soil blackening. It sounds like a world on the edge of collapse while people lose themselves on their cell phones, playing Candy Crush and only occasionally allowing themselves to dive into the fires of true emotion and horror, which usually manifest as strands of smoke, curling between the cracks of the surreal reality we're living in.
All this and more is built into Grimes' fifth album, which she has said is mostly about climate change. "People don't care about [climate change] because we're being guilted," she said. "I see the polar bear and want to kill myself. No one wants to look at it, you know? I want to make a reason to look at it. I want to make it beautiful."
Grimes' approach is refreshingly different from many popular climate change narratives, which are often built on guilt, faceless numbers, fear, problematic ideals of purity, and sometimes, relentless, exhausting optimism. Climate change became associated with guilt around the time that big green corporations—often seeded by dark money that had roots in oil corporations—began selling the idea that by reducing our own waste and having fewer children, we could solve the environmental crisis. Often this was a way of lifting blame from major corporations and structural forces, shifting it over to individual people and, more often than not, poor people and members of third-world nations who produce much less waste than the wealthiest 1%.
On Miss Anthropocene, Grimes plays with alter egos as well as genres. Some of the songs are chaotic and super-charged with electricity, like the Teslas and various futuristic projects of her boyfriend and the father of her future child, Elon Musk. "Darkseid" is a hyperactive, lush ballad that features the rapper Pan; it's campy in the way that Art Angels was, but with even more depth. "Violence" has a sadistic beat and a sense of dark ecstasy that feels designed for late-night parties and bad decisions.
Some of the songs are more subdued. Grimes is capable of producing the maximalist, sweeping, glossy sound that's come to characterize the typical alt-pop star in 2020. Songs like "New Gods" are filled with the whispery, gooey sadness that's become the signature sound of artists like Billie Eilish and Lorde, but "New Gods" is more powerful and less vulnerable than either of the aforementioned two artists allow themselves to be.
On the slower (and arguably strongest) songs—"Delete Forever" and "Before the Fever"—Grimes plucks from pop music's classic bag of tricks at will, imitating cliches, pulling from punk-rock grittiness and familiar chord progressions while constantly ripping the ground out from under her listener. These songs collapse into swirling tornadoes of synths and glitchy screams, while Grimes's vocals rise high above the violent soundscapes. It's all impressionistic and desolate and yet somehow, fiercely, blisteringly alive.
Who Is Miss Anthropocene?
Freud believed that every person is motivated by a death drive, which pulls us towards annihilation and destruction and exists in constant competition with a drive towards life, creation, and propagation. Both impulses exist in glitchy competition on Miss Anthropocene, an album that explores the destruction of the planet and human spirit and yet refuses to surrender to either. Instead, it lives inside destruction and thereby creates new life within it.
Grimes accompanied the album's release with an ominous poem. "I, Poet of Destruction: Hereby declare that global warming is good," she wrote on Twitter. "So, you humans have carved your existence into the Earth. Lest you be forgotten. Why lament. Be who you are. Embrace your demise. For you are the architect of it. How smart you are to eradicate a species as resilient as your own. Why deny your power. It's the greatest show in the Universe. Celebrate with me. The most momentous of deaths. Now is the time to burn twice as bright and half as long. Sincerely, Miss Anthropocene." (At the bottom of the paper was a Shutterstock logo. When a Twitter fan addressed this, Grimes replied: "Haha oops.")
In its final form, as Laura Snapes writes for The Guardian, the character of Miss Anthropocene "represents humanity's justification for its self-destruction, which goes beyond the death wish of the climate crisis to dwell uncomfortably in more intimate forms of self-annihilation: addiction, self-loathing and the internet."
With Miss Anthropocene, Grimes seems to be embracing the kind of thought process put forth by the Dark Mountain Project, an environmental anti-movement of sorts. Focused on abandoning hopes of maintaining the status quo, the Dark Mountain Project and its followers find redemptive possibilities in apocalypse. Modernity is "the story of an empire corroding from within," according to one of the early paragraphs of the movement's manifesto. "It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story."
The manifesto concludes with several slightly more inspiring principles—many of which focus on the potential inherent in art and the practice of non-anthropocentric creativity. "Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world," reads the first of its eight final steps. "The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us," it finishes.
Though she's no activist, at least Grimes is trying to think about climate change in different and unique ways; like the Dark Mountain Manifesto's followers, she's using reverse psychology, playing into the human death drive, collapsing it into something creative. The result is often inspired, sometimes overwhelming, sometimes hollow, and always dark. But maybe—in contrast to all this light pollution, all this brilliance from fireworks and computer screen glow and bombs—a little dark's what we need.
Listening to Grimes’ Miss Anthropocene like https://t.co/hnh2xuPMdj— ✨🔥🍈𝕸𝖊𝖑𝖔𝖓🍈🔥✨ (@✨🔥🍈𝕸𝖊𝖑𝖔𝖓🍈🔥✨)1582271434.0
What The Future Holds
Grimes isn't exactly a radical—she's dating one of the richest members of that 1%, after all—but in some way, Miss Anthropocene addresses some of the larger forces that contribute to the climate crisis and make solving it so damn difficult. The climate crisis is inextricably entangled with late capitalism, racism, sexism, and many other forces built on the subjugation of the presumably powerless. These forces that can be quieted by the Internet and opioids and many of the other addictive trappings of modernity, all of which distract us and help grow our disconnect from each other while relying on capitalism to fill the void.
CBD oil in my coffee, new Grimes in my AirPods https://t.co/2ApkqQBUSF— Másha Potato (@Másha Potato)1582300638.0
Even if she doesn't present a solution to all this, Grimes never surrenders to guilt and apathy, either. Instead, she dives deep into her own pain and creates a mirror to reflect the pain of humans and the earth.
Miss Anthropocene no work of supreme perfection, and its ideals exist more in the abstract than anything. But in seven months when Grimes gives birth to the antichrist, maybe we'll all wish we had paid a little more attention.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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Summer Walker returns and is no longer playing games.
Summer Walker loves creating music but despises the music industry.
She regularly considers retirement and ended her 2019 tour early because of social anxiety. "I hope that people understand and respect that at the end of the day I'm a person, I have feelings, I get tired, I get sad," she said in a video post. "I don't want to lose myself for someone else." She was relentlessly vilified for her decision. Fans cited stiff meet-and-greets and chalked up Walker's cancellations to a sense of entitlement.
Then she was presented with the "Best New Artist" award at the 2019 Soul Train Awards, and her hurried acceptance speech was dissected by tasteless memes all across the country. Walker's candid cries for understanding remained completely ignored by years end. The truth of the matter is that Walker suffers from anxiety and stage fright that is all but totally crippling. So she did what any misunderstood artist does, she disappeared and stopped saying anything at all.