Vince Vaughn's character in a movie once called electric cars "gay" while G.W.B. tried to constitutionally ban gay marriage.
The Ellen Degeneres motto: "Be Kind to One Another."
The 61-year-old comedian and talk show host was widely criticized when she seemed to meet that standard by defending her friendship with George W. Bush. When the two were pictured sitting together in the owner's suite at a Dallas Cowboys game, many questioned what the former Republican president and "a gay Hollywood liberal" could have in common. Degeneres used her monologue on the The Ellen Show to describe their friendship: "In fact, I'm friends with a lot of people who don't share the same beliefs that I have. We're all different, and I think we've forgotten that that's OK that we're all different," she said. "Just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean that I am not going to be friends with them. When I say 'Be kind to one another,' I don't mean only the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone." Interestingly, many celebrities, like Reese Witherspoon and Jameela Jamil, initially supported the statement; but, after reflecting on GWB's politics and legacy of war crimes, they deleted or publicly retracted their agreement.
In particular, British actress Jameela Jamil admitted that she was previously unaware of Bush's policies, tweeting, "Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush's heinous presidency... we weren't taught much about him at school, we just heard he was stupid...(we were dealing with our own epic nightmare of a prime minister back then). What a monstrous leader. I now understand the rage.." When she was criticized, she shared the hashtag #progressnotperfection to express the necessity of education and effort to improve oneself in response to ignorance—not fear, hatred, or bullying. "I love learning and growth and massively applaud anyone who says they don't/didn't know the answer and seeks it out," she wrote. "I personally think that's cool and hope that we all feel safe to do that, so we can all evolve together. #progressnotperfection ❤️❤️❤️❤️."
Ooooof learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency... we weren’t taught much about him at sch… https://t.co/0sACjn9dTy— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1570606800.0
I love learning and growth and massively applaud anyone who says they don’t/didn’t know the answer and seeks it out… https://t.co/I7OkZY0QIE— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1570633531.0
In that spirit of education, we can examine Ellen Degeneres' personal ideology—around which she's built a reportedly $450 million brand—a little more closely. As Page Six reported (days after Ellen defended her friendship), the host has outright banned multiple people from appearing on her show. If the list of celebrities and the reasons for their bans is even somewhat accurate, then the easiest way to be denied a public platform on The Ellen Show is to express anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. Caitlyn Jenner, Kim Burrell, and Sherri Shepherd were all reportedly banned due to their outspoken stances against gay marriage. Vince Vaughn was allegedly given a temporary ban after a line in his 2011 comedy, The Dilemma, called electric cars "gay...not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance-gay."
The contradiction, of course, lies in GWB's strong anti-gay legacy. In 2004 he even called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. His two conservative appointees to the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, still hold their seats today and continue to contest federal protections for LGBTQ+ workers. Yet, Ellen has invited her friend and former president to appear on her show at least twice.
As vocal critics point out about Degeneres' friendship with GWB, "Kindness is not enough" when practicing the Golden Rule means not holding individuals accountable for actions that condemn whole groups of people to lives of oppression or result in hundreds of thousands of deaths. Degeneres and Bush both enjoy a social status that can afford to put kindness before justice or true activism; their clout puts them above reproach or the claws of oppression. With that being said, yes, Ellen absolutely faced massive fallout for her progressive decision to publicly come out years before bigotry and stigma were called out the way they thankfully are today; but the insular world of celebrity and Hollywood has always been out of touch with the realities of oppression. Fame, for all of its pitfalls, is a shield.
Ellen Degeneres and George W. Bush's friendship isn't based on "kindness"; it's based on the privileges of being white, wealthy, western public figures who can afford to sit in the owner's suite at a Dallas Cowboys game.
Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture,… https://t.co/uUuOOJ23ff— Mark Ruffalo (@Mark Ruffalo)1570647149.0
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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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