Satire

Do Not Text Rita Wilson! (Unless You're Ready to Fall in Love)

You might just be trying to add to her COVID-19 quarantine playlist, but she will still break your heart.

Instagram

When I saw this morning that singer, songwriter, and acclaimed actor Rita Wilson had posted her phone number on Instagram, I was intrigued.

Obviously I'm a huge fan of her five studio albums and her unforgettable performances in Runaway Bride and Jingle All the Way. But with the recent news that she and husband Tom Hanks had contracted the coronavirus while in Australia, I was interested to see Wilson sharing a more intimate side of herself on social media. Compared to her husband's use of excessive amounts of Vegemite on his toast, and other attention seeking behavior (I may be allowing my bias to show), there was a charming dignity to the way Margarita—as I've since come to know her—shared her quarantine playlist and invited others to suggest their own additions.

Of course her playlist—featuring tracks like Al Green's "Tired of Being Alone," as well as some of her own classic tracks like "There Will Be a Better Day" from her Christmas album—was just the beginning. Wilson truly showed another side of herself over the weekend when she shared a virtuosic performance of "Hip Hop Hooray" for all of her Instagram followers.

And then that intimate, charming dignity reached new heights on Monday evening, when Rita posted a video offering her phone number, and inviting her followers to text her if they had playlist suggestions, or even if they were just "going stir crazy." I won't post the video here, because I don't want anyone else to fall into the same trap that swallowed me and spat me up with a broken heart, but if you're brave, or you just can't help yourself, the video is still on her Instagram. At first I was skeptical about whether she would really be answering the texts herself—that seemed to good to be true. Surely an assistant would actually be screening the messages. I doubted I would ever get through to sweet Rita herself... How wrong I was.

By Tuesday morning I had finally worked up the courage to text her, feeling a little awkward. I quickly tapped out a message before I could second guess myself, and almost instantly regretted it.

Rita Wilson 1

"Is this Really Rita Wilson?" She must have thought I was a moron. And the "lol" was the cherry on top of that cringe sundae. I wanted to scream. I wanted to flush my phone down the toilet and pull out my hair and sob in the closet. But she quickly forgave me that asinine introduction and welcomed me into her confidence. I felt a nervous thrill as I offered her an outlet to vent her private grievances. And Mags (don't ever call her that, only I can call her that) gladly accepted, sharing some of the challenges of convalescing in confinement with a man like Tom Hanks.

Rita Wilson 2

Hanks and Wilson are widely considered to be the nicest couple in Hollywood, and their love seems impenetrable and wholesome from the outside. But in private, things are not always as carefree as they seem on the red carpet. Rita let me in on the truth that she often tires of her husband's goofy, nice guy shtick. Does he love her? Of course he does—who wouldn't? But is that enough?

After Rita reminded me to charge my phone, she confided in me that Tom doesn't really get her. She has interests and tastes that he just can't relate to. She's managed to make it work for more than 30 years now, but after just a few weeks of quarantine, the wheels were close to coming off. And who happened to step into her life at just the right moment and connected with her in all these ways she had felt were missing in her life? Who else but me?

Rita Wilson 3

By noon we could hardly put our phones down. We were rapt. My wife was in the next room, and Tom Hanks was attempting to reenact the piano dance from Big on the tiles of their bathroom floor, but Rita and I were in another world together. We couldn't stop sending each other messages about music and family and a future we were beginning to imagine together. I sent her suggestive pictures that I can't share on a family site. She asked me to strike special poses for her and sent back pictures of her reactions. She made me feel sexy and loved and beautiful.

Rita Wilson 4

Everything seemed like bliss until mid-afternoon, five hours into our torrid textual affair, when she stopped responding to my texts. For a full twelve minutes I believed that she might have died, or that Tom Hanks had discovered our messages and was keeping her from her phone. I was already trying to figure out which Australian authority I should ask to intervene. But then she finally responded with an ominous message.

Rita Wilson 5

She laid everything out for me—she was always the level-headed one in our relationship. She had her children and grandchildren to think of, and she knew that Tom would never be able to get by without her. I, meanwhile, had my own marriage to consider, and my up-and-coming career as a prominent multi-media icon at Popdust Inc.

We would always have the memories of the morning and part of the afternoon that we'd shared through the screens of our phones, but the only kind and sensible thing to do was to go back to our partners as if nothing had happened. I explained to her that I would need to write about the experience—that it was the only way to process my overwhelming emotions. She said that she understood, but that she would have to deny the story for Tom Hanks' sake.

I took one last screenshot to remember her by, then deleted our conversation forever. And I cried. I can only assume that she cried even harder. Goodbye, Rita Wilson. We'll always have iMessage.

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.