Music Features

On This Day: Kendrick Lamar Doubted Everything on “DAMN.”

The prophetic rapper released this iconic masterpiece on this day in 2017,

On this day in 2017, Kendrick Lamar evolved from a rapper into a prophet.

"Is it wickedness? Is it weakness?" he asks his listeners on "BLOOD." "Are we gonna live or die?" Lamar responds to these questions by telling a beguiling story about being shot by a blind lady, whom the rapper was only trying to assist in finding an allegedly lost possession. The album's interlude, nearly two-minutes long, is a representation of the consequences of damnation as referenced in the Book of Deuteronomy. The blind woman represents the duality of "obeying God and being blessed, or disobeying him and being damned." Do we give into wickedness, or instead admit our weaknesses and submit ourselves to a higher power?


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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.

B.S.

Jesus Rose from the Dead So Lizzo Could Twerk, STFU Diddy

This is the lord's day. There is no body shaming on the lord's day.

First, God created the heavens and the earth; second, he made the sea and the animals; and then, he created people.

God quickly realized he'd made a mistake with the "people" recipe, so he tried again, a few billion years later, and thus was born the gift that is Lizzo. If there is anything that proves the presence of a loving and sentient god, surely it's Lizzo in all her flute-playing, note-hitting, body-positive glory. But, apparently, some would disagree.

On Sunday, Rapper and businessman Diddy hosted the "world's biggest dance-a-thon" on his Instagram account in an effort to raise money to benefit healthcare workers in underserved areas. Many big names and excellent dancers joined in, including Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, and, of course, Lizzo.

As is her trademark, Lizzo started to twerk while Diddy's sons danced on his Instagram live stream. Diddy quickly shut it down, shouting, "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" jumping into the frame and stopping the music. "It's Easter Sunday, let's play something a little more family friendly." Lizzo appeared to be, understandably, embarrassed and said, "Sorry, sorry, sorry! Let's do something fun. Well, don't play that kind of... play something I can bop to."

If Diddy had found Lizzo's dance moves too suggestive for his sons, that would be one thing. But he soon proved that the twerking wasn't the problem when model Draya Michele danced similarly on the dance-a-thon just a few hours later.

"You killed that!" Diddy told Draya. "I think that was one of the top performances."

Twitter users, rightfully, had issues with Diddy's hypocrisy.



It's obvious that Diddy shutting down Lizzo's dancing had nothing to do with it being "the Lord's day" and everything to do with fat phobia. Online backlash was so severe that he later tried to excuse himself by claiming that he stopped Lizzo because of the song she chose: "When I stopped the music, it was 'cause it had a lot of curses in there," he posted on Instagram. "Not 'cause she was twerking. She's one of the best twerkers in the world, okay? So, let's keep that clear. You are allowed to twerk on Easter. There was a lot of cursing in the record and I don't need child services knocking on my door right now." Cursing on Instagram has never brought child services to anyone's door, but okay, Diddy.

It's sad that some people still can't see the divine miracle that is the female form in all its many variations—especially the holy gift of Lizzo's butt. Of course, so close to Easter, all we can do is pray for Diddy's hypocritical, fat phobic soul and twerk our hearts out, no matter what size we are.