MUSIC

Was Janelle Monáe Attacked with "Too Much Tuna?"

John Mulaney and Nick Kroll think that giving people giant mounds of tuna fish is a fun prank, but mercury poisoning is no joke

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It was announced yesterday that Janelle Monáe will be joining the impressive lineup of musical acts performing at the Oscars this weekend.

It's reassuring news for anyone who may have been concerned about Monáe's health following an interview with The Cut released on Monday. In the interview, Monáe discussed her desire to be a mother, with the caveat that she is still recovering from a recent case of mercury poisoning that she developed as a result of her pescatarian diet. She said of the experience, "I started feeling my mortality."

Methyl-mercury—which is easy for the human body to absorb, but it takes a long time to filter out—can cause serious neurological symptoms and presents a particular danger to developing fetuses. That's why doctors advise avoiding or limiting intake of certain mercury-rich fish during pregnancy. But for an adult to develop mercury poisoning requires much higher doses.

Monáe also spoke of a desire "to skydive into different parts of my life." Taking that sort of leap into unfamiliar challenges has been a hallmark of a career in which she has found tremendous success as a singer, a songwriter, a rapper, a producer, and an actor. Without that bold approach to life, would she have ever starred in Moonlight or Hidden Figures? But perhaps it was a similarly head-long embrace of pescatarianism that caused her mercury issue. In a previous interview with Glamour she attributed her smooth, radiant skin to "a really great diet, you know, lots of vegetables and fish," but according to a video entitled "A Medically Inadvisable Amount of Tuna," a serious case of mercury poisoning can cause fatigue, muscle weakness, and even… peeling skin.

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Is it possible that Monáe's poisoning was no accident? Was it part of "prank" to sabotage her flawless skin?!

That clip is part of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney's prank show Too Much Tuna, in which they take on the characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland in order to surprise celebrity guests with sandwiches stacked with humiliating amounts of tuna. Past guests subjected to this indignity have included Chris Pratt, Leslie Jones, and Adam Driver. It seemed that Kroll and Mulaney's reign of terror was finally over when their Broadway show Oh, Hello closed in 2017, but with Chance the Rapper's revival of the Punk'd series, the pair may have felt it was time to reunite.

We do not currently have the evidence to prove that Kroll and Mulaney were behind Monáe's illness, but tuna is among the most mercury-rich fish, meaning that "too much tuna" is a likely cause. If they relied on Monáe's pescatarian diet and her bold approach to life—did she "skydive" into actually eating one of those sandwiches?!—in order to inflict their brand of "comedy" on one of our most celebrated musical and dramatic talents, they must be stopped. We need to send a message that there's nothing funny about acute chemical poisoning: #TooMuchTooMuchTuna

"Too Much Tuna" Luke Fontana

Monáe also spoke with The Cut about the strangeness of being a public figure and how people create elaborate stories about celebrities based on scraps of information and figments of their imagination. Janelle Monáe will be performing at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 9th, along with Billie Eilish, Elton John, Idina Menzel, and Randy Newman.

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.

MUSIC

20 Music Predictions for the 2020s

What will our favorite artists be up to this decade?

Now that we're deep enough into 2020 that our New Year's Resolutions have wilted away, it's time to focus on things that matter most: what our favorite musicians will get up to in the decade to come.

A lot can happen in 10 years; hell, Spotify hadn't even hit the United States yet when the last decade began. Since 2010, the music world has been shook with Beyonce's surprise self-titled album, Lady Gaga's meat dress, Ariana Grande's massive benefit concert for Manchester, and Billboard revamping their Hot 100 formulations to include YouTube hits, making viral dance number "Harlem Shake" a surprise No. 1. So, what's next?

Here are 20 events we think could take the music world by storm in the 2020s.

-Grimes pivots from electropop's robo-queen to full-time mommy blogger. She and her unborn child's father, Elon Musk, reportedly launched an Instagram account for their baby, which has "family friendly spon-con" written all over it.


-Lizzo teaches a flute masterclass for those aspiring to follow her example of woodwind-assisted twerking.


-A documentary, or maybe even a hologram tour, of Mac Miller is created to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his debut LP, Blue Slide Park.

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-Too preoccupied by being obsessed with his wife, Chance the Rapper quietly retires from music.


-Ariana Grande dates a minimum of two high-profile, tattooed, skinny white men before tying the knot.


-Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy form a duo, Soccer Snail, and release an album together. They still get mistaken for each other.


-Facebook launches a music streaming platform.


-100 gecs headline a major music festival.


-Billboard starts factoring in TikTok plays to calculate songs' positions on the charts.


-Lil Nas X—already known to be a hit with kids—pens a Wild West-themed children's book, and a coinciding G-rated soundtrack.


-Post Malone opens a tattoo studio in New York City, further pushing the popularity of facial script tattoos.


-Drake makes a cameo in Euphoria, commencing his full return to acting.


-Following the Dixie Chicks' highly-successful comeback, they collaborate with Kacey Musgraves.


-It is revealed that Vampire Weekend frontman, Ezra Koenig, and his longtime partner, Parks and Recreation star Rashida Jones, secretly got married years ago during an intimate ceremony at Columbia University's Butler Library.


-The Postal Service—the band with Ben Gibbard, not the government agency—reunite for a 20th anniversary performance of their sole album, Give Up.


-My Chemical Romance are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (they'll be eligible in 2027).


-Feeling inspired by his Sunday Service performance at Joel Osteen's megachurch, Kanye West opens his own megachurch near his home in Wyoming. Tourism in Wyoming reaches record highs as a result.


-Billie Eilish surpasses Van Halen in record sales.


-In the wake of the the climate crisis, an allegiance of major artists will cease touring to minimize their carbon footprint.


-Speaking of climate, Greta Thunberg launches her singer-songwriter career. Her breakout hit is a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," the original environmentalist anthem. It becomes a No. 1 hit, and Thunberg donates all the proceeds to various environmental groups.