MUSIC

Popdust's Spooktacular Halloween Playlist

Are you tasked with hosting a Halloween party this year? Let us help you with the music.

Howl you doing boys and girls? What's up, my witches?

Spooky season is drawing nearer, and with Halloween falling on a Thursday this year, it means that there is only one weekend to curate a spooktacular party playlist, and one opportunity to throw a fa-boo-lous Halloween party. It is no easy task, but if you want your guests to shake their BOOty, eat, drink, and be scary all night long, Popdust has just the playlist that will give your friends pumpkin' to talk about.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Carly Simon

Have you ever heard such an elegant and moving interpretation of this spooky nursery rhyme? In this version, I wasn't rooting for the rain to "wash the spider out"; instead, Simon's mash up of the nursery rhyme with her hit "Comin Around Again" paints a darker picture. "I know nothing stays the same, but if you're willing to play the game, it's coming around again," Simon sings. The Spider's journey is a complex one: He is tenacious in his dream of scaling the water spout and is an inspiration to us all. "Nothing stays the same," little Spider, keep climbing. One day, you may just turn your dream into a reality. It's a reminder of our mortality and serves as the perfect song to kick off the night as your guests eat hors d'oeuvres and pour their first cup of spiked punch.

Follow the playlist on Spotify!

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

Creed Frontman Scott Stapp's New Album Is Cheesy and Devoid of Meaning

Disguised as our friend, Stapp offers a nostalgic trip to the Creed days of yore, but upon closer inspection, the release is hollow and impossible to take seriously.

YouTube

Remember when being melodramatic was cool?

Gerard Way had long black hair and wore amber red ties and caked-on foundation and mascara. The Used were writing lyrics like, "I broke a needle off in my skin / Pick the scabs and pick the bleeding." Teenagers would passionately make out to Hoobastank's "The Reason." It was the aughts. Everything was sensationalized, all of it was cathartic, and none of it made any logical sense in retrospect.

All the while, Creed's "Arm's Wide Open" was being sung all across the country, with only a fraction of listeners picking up on the heavy-handed religious undertones that now seem painfully obvious. It's no doubt that the song was a bop; the post-grunge wave was filled with bops. But the post-grunge fanbase grew up quickly, and the movement dissipated as quickly as it came. When the veil of puberty was lifted, listening back on those songs brought with it a potent mix of nostalgia and shame. It's hard to believe now, in 2019, that a large portion of the population considered Three Days Grace to be saccharine music rather than the soundtrack for a serial killer. Yet whenever one of these bands is replayed during a drunken galivant with "the boys," we sing along almost satirically, because it's more fun to reflect on the past in jest rather than acknowledge that every artist listed above is actually still making music. Scott Stapp, the former lead singer of Creed, is one of them.

Stapp's latest solo release, The Space Between The Shadows, is a lie. Disguised as our friend, Stapp offers a nostalgic trip to the Creed days of yore, but upon closer inspection, the release is hollow and impossible to take seriously. "It's hard to forgive, even harder to forget," Stapp sings on "Name," "I am a son without a father." In the video for "Purpose for Pain," Stapp's interpretative condemnation of child abuse makes it seem like he's got corpses buried in his backyard. "Fell into the light, thrown from the abyss, screamed so many nights, not going out like this," Stapp sings. "I fought the devil and he won." Meanwhile, "Face of the Sun," Stapp's pump-up track, is just plain cheesy. "Fight until the end, in the name of love," he calls out with great solemnity. The closing track, "The Last Hallelujah," is so engulfed in its own dramatics it almost becomes satirical.

For years Stapp has been assaulted by his demons, and he has somehow emerged from each near-death experience still charismatic and optimistic for the future. His journey to sobriety and beyond is no doubt admirable, but it's hard to take the testament of Scott Stapp. Any vague guise of sentimentality is overshadowed by the album's clear lack of vulnerability. The cover art, most likely meant to convey a Stapp enlightened by his experiences, just paints the singer as a self-obsessed white guy.

But maybe this is part of his journey. Maybe Stapp is just going through the motions he needs in order to find a resolution. "Gone Too Soon" may be hard to take seriously on its own, but when placed in the right context, it's clearly a well-intentioned ode to his fallen rock compatriots. The Space Between The Shadows is cheesy and lame and sounds like our dads made a rock band, but it's comforting to know that at least Stapp isn't a dick, and at least Creed fans of the past and present don't have to worry about their beloved rock singer ending up like Wes Scantlin.