Music Features

On This Day: Aretha Franklin's "Respect" Is More Important Than Ever

The singers magnetic hit, which debuted at No. 1 on this day in 1967, still fiercely resonates

On this day in 1967, Aretha Franklin's "Respect" debuted at No.1 on the U.S. charts. The Otis Redding re-imagining would become the definitive song of the 1960's Civil Rights and Feminist Movements.

At just 24-years-old, the soon-to-be Queen of Soul took a song that was a desperate plea for companionship and transformed it into a cutthroat demand for equality. "Come to me for I'm begging, come to me for I'm begging, darling," Redding howls in his version. "Your kisses, sweeter than honey," Franklin croons on her re-imagining almost in direct response. "And guess what? So is my money." When Franklin's version continued to grow in popularity, Redding felt both emasculated and proud. "The next song is a song that a girl took away from me. A good friend of mine." Redding said playfully before diving into his rendition during his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival.

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Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

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.

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.

Oh, right.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


What Happened to Duffy?

Aimee Duffy was positioned to be the next big thing in soul music. Then, a horrific act of sexual violence kept her out of the public eye.

Trigger Warning: This article includes mentions of violent sexual assault.

In 2009, a rising Welsh singer named Aimee Duffy won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album.

That album, her debut Rockferry, propelled the mononymously-known Duffy to international fame. Her most successful song to date, "Mercy," topped the U.K. charts and became a Top 40 hit in the U.S., while its soulfulness drew comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Aretha Franklin. Then, mysteriously, Duffy went quiet.

The singer released one more album, Endlessly, in 2010. It performed well overseas, although it failed to reach the same level of ubiquitous success as its predecessor. It arrived under somewhat tumultuous circumstances: Rockferry's success had overwhelmed Duffy to the point where she almost walked away from music, and she'd parted ways with her management. It's understandable why she'd take a couple of years off before releasing LP3, but that short break turned into a decade without new music from Duffy. So, what happened?

Duffy posted on Instagram this week to share a gutting message about her time away, in which she faced unimaginable abuse. "Many of you wonder what happened to me, where did I disappear to and why," Duffy captioned a black-and-white photo of herself. "A journalist contacted me, he found a way to reach me and I told him everything this past summer. He was kind and it felt so amazing to finally speak. The truth is, and please trust me I am ok and safe now, I was raped and drugged and held captive over some days."

The exact details of Duffy's assault are unknown—nor are we owed them. It's not entirely unusual for artists to create only one or two successful albums before dipping out of the industry. Former Fugees member Lauryn Hill did just that after her classic solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It's equally common—if not more so—for fans to beg M.I.A. artists to return and make new music, especially as social media has blurred the lines and made fan interactions more seamless (Ariana Grande is an expert at responding to, even lightly taunting, her fans in direct Twitter responses when asked about new music). But when we beg beloved musicians to return from an unexplained hiatus, not only can it infringe on their privacy, but it also ignores the sheer frequency of rape cases: according to a 2015 study, one in five women in the U.S. will be raped at some point in their lives. In Duffy's home country, there were over 34,000 reported rape cases that same year, a 30 percent increase from the previous year. This instance sheds a harrowing light on the unreported trauma that can happen behind the scenes.

"The recovery took time," Duffy continued. "But I can tell you in the last decade, the thousands and thousands of days I committed to wanting to feel the sunshine in my heart again, the sun does now shine. You wonder why I did not choose to use my voice to express my pain? I did not want to show the world the sadness in my eyes. I asked myself, how can I sing from the heart if it is broken? And slowly it unbroke."

Duffy didn't have to explain her absence, but her choice to is incredibly brave and empowering.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673