Azealia Banks is not a reliable source of information.

The "212" rapper has engaged in countless social media feuds with everyone from Rihanna to Sia to Disney Channel star Skai Jackson (who was 14 at the time…). She has claimed to perform animal sacrifices as part of witchcraft rituals, once labelled Lizzo a "millennial mammy," and has been kicked off Twitter more than once for spouting homophobic slurs. She defended Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" and told him she is "proud as f***" of him as a fellow Gemini for winning the 2016 election, and later called him "a f***ing idiot" and "disqualified" him from his Gemini status.

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CULTURE

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. 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.

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. 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.

Implications

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.

Azealia Banks is an icon. Could we name a single one of her songs besides "212?" No. Do we religiously follow her various inflammatory social media accounts? Yes, absolutely. She has feuded with an unexpected cast of celebrities from Lana Del Ray to Elon Musk, and memorably called Cardi B a "poor man's Nicki Minaj." While we won't go into the full list of Azealia Banks feuds, we recommend you do your civic duty and take a few hours out of your work day to get up to date on the queen of take-down's brutal reign.

Now, Banks reportedly has beef with Twitter founder and unfortunate-nose-ring-wearer, Jack Dorsey. Apparently, in 2016, Dorsey and Banks started hanging out, one thing led to another, and Banks offered to make Dorsey an amulet made of his own beard hair to protect him from ISIS. You know, as one does. According to Banks' now deleted tweets from the time, in return for the amulet and Banks promotion of Dorsey's new app, he said he would tweet about and promote Banks's mixtape, Slay-Z.

Ick. GQ

At the time, Banks tweeted, "Jack Dorsey asked me to tweet about his cash app and in exchange he was supposed to tweet about my mixtape. he never did." She continued, "[H]e also sent me his hair in an envelope because i was supposed to make him an amulet for protection," she followed up, "i have 3 Strands of a billionaire's hair. i should steal his luck."

Business Insider reached out to the rapper on Monday to ask about the story. She responded that it's "absolutely true" and she still has one of the strands of Dorsey's beard hair in an envelope in her storage space. Banks told the publication that the relationship began when Dorsey followed her on twitter, which led to frequent texting, and an eventual meet up. Banks said, "We have this awkward dinner of turkey slices, asparagus, and tomato as he is on something called the Bulletproof Diet ... the food was nasty, so I had some drinks and we kept talking." As the evening wore on, Banks offered to cast a spell to protect Dorset from ISIS, who had recently threatened the billionaire. She went on to say, "A lot of articles said I put a hex on him but I didn't, I have no reason to wish him harm. But we made a spiritual pact and he was supposed to make good on his end...I made a pact on his behalf and he left me hanging. He will pay for that."

All we're left with is questions: Did Azealia Banks curse Jack Dorsey? Who has the amulet now? Can we have it? Can Jack Dorsey please stop wearing a nose ring? How do you start frequently texting Azealia Banks? Can we have her number? Can 2018 possibly get any weirder before New Years?


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.



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