CULTURE

The Infowars Heckler's Impeachment Rant Shouldn’t Surprise Us

Owen Shroyer just live-streamed a racist rant at an impeachment hearing, because what's more American than that?

A heckler from the far-right website Infowars was just forcibly removed from an impeachment hearing after delivering an incendiary and racist rant that took aim at former President Barack Obama.

"Americans are sick of your impeachment scam! Trump is innocent!" Owen Shroyer shouted early Monday morning. "Folks, Obama was emailing Hillary Clinton on her illegal server under a secret name, that came out in emails. And he claimed he didn't know she had it. Barack Obama is a treasonous ... he belongs in jail. He belongs in Guantanamo Bay. I mean look, I'm not saying this should happen but Barack Obama, you know, find the tallest tree and a rope."

Shroyer's comments were delivered in defense of President Trump, who has insofar obstructed the current probe into his attempt to persuade Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election by withholding documents and discouraging witness testimony. Shroyer delivered his rant at the start of the latest impeachment inquiry hearing, accusing Congressman Jerry Nadler and other Democrats of treason. Less than 40 seconds after he started speaking, he was forcibly removed by police.

LIVE: House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Inquiry Evidence Hearingwww.youtube.com

Shroyer is a known conspiracy theorist and instigator who has been banned from Facebook and YouTube, which is really saying something. Along with Infowars, he infamously helped spread the debunked Pizzagate theory, which alleged that the Clintons were involved in a child sex-trafficking ring.

Shroyer's comments at the hearing were, of course, deeply racist, as they concern the first African American president of the United States, but given his website's track record and white supremacist leanings, this shouldn't surprise us. Websites that perpetuate this kind of misinformation present major threats to any form of democracy and justice. Videos with titles such as "Why Impeachment Crisis Is a Textbook Lynching" add insult to injury, co-opting legacies of racist oppression and transmuting the American people's distrust of authority into fake news.

Still, we shouldn't think of Shroyer as a lone wolf or solo extremist gone rogue; rather, he's an unusually visible symptom of a much larger and very complex matrix of problems. Some of the worst perpetuators of racist systems hold positions of power across party lines, and mainstream media sources and politicians can be purchased and influenced by major moneyed influences as well. In all these cases, false information can easily become weaponized as protest and alternative versions of truth when refracted through the right's kaleidoscope of circumstances, rage, and high-profile distraction.

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

A$AP Rocky Was Namedropped During Trump's Impeachment Inquiry, and That's Beautiful

"I think we primarily discussed A$AP Rocky," said an old white guy.

A$AP Rocky, hip-hop's current patron saint of Russian headwear, has had quite a tumultuous past few months.

Not that you needed us to tell you this, but President Trump's been having a rocky time (pun intended) recently, too: He's currently facing potential impeachment because he asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to do the U.S. "a favor" by investigating Trump's political rival, 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden. The House of Representatives have been holding public hearings of testimonies from various White House staff. Rocky's name just keeps coming up in the conversation, which is utterly amusing.

Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, testified to Congress today (November 20) and mentioned a short phone call he had with Trump following his conversation with Zelensky. "I have no reason to doubt that this conversation [between Trump and Zelensky] included the subject of investigations," Sondland said, before detailing his own evidently riveting chat with Trump: "I think we primarily discussed A$AP Rocky."

In July, Rocky was charged with assault after getting in a fight in Stockholm with two men who appeared to be following and harassing him and his entourage. Trump, ever the prompt social media poster, didn't shy away from intervening and sharing his thoughts: "Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky's incarceration," read an actual tweet from the president. "I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!" No matter how many times #FreeRocky was tweeted, unfortunately, Trump couldn't collude with Sweden enough to keep Rocky from being found guilty.

It will always be equal parts hilarious and awkward when old white dudes in politics rub elbows with notable rappers, but a rapper being mentioned so casually in what could be only the third impeachment in American history is the kind of strange coalescence that could only happen in 2019.