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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.

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RELEASE RADAR | A Christmas-infused round up

I can't help but listen to Christmas music this week... so naturally I included some on #theradar.

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Christmas has me like...

I'm honestly living for all of the new Christmas music that's been released lately. With the happiest time of the year just around the corner, I had to infuse some of my favorite new Christmas releases onto Release Radar this week (but don't worry, a full Christmas playlist is coming to you this #musicmonday). Get in the holiday spirit with some of my new favorite Christmas releases and a slew of other hot new tracks from: Cody Simpson and The Tide, Dana and The Wolf, Fascinations Grand Chorus, Eighty Ninety, Michael McQuaid, Max & Harvey, Cate Hamilton, Tash, and Umphrey's McGee.

Cody Simpson and The Tide | "White Christmas"

This beach-rock cover of the old classic is relaxing and will get you in the Christmas spirit even if your version of a white Christmas is sand. Being an former Florida girl myself, I appreciate this twist on the original.

Best for: a holiday beach bonfire
Perfect if you like: Jack Johnson

Follow Cody Simpson and The Tide on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Dana and The Wolf | "Him"

This track is hauntingly good. Dana and The Wolf have been together for decade but only recently formed the pop duo comprised of Dana Hobson (vocalist) and Daniel Wolf (producer). Their dramatic pop music focuses on deep topics from religion to economics.


Best for: A lazy Sunday
Perfect if you like: The Daysleepers

Follow Dana and The Wolf on Facebook | Twitter

Fascinations Grand Chorus | "Angelsea"

This slow burning track is mellow and builds over time. The sweet vocals contrast the rhythmic nature of the track. Part of their recent EP Angelsea. The title song is my favorite off of the album.

Best for: Road tripping
Perfect if you like: Tennis

Follow Fascination Grand Chorus Instagram | Facebook

Eighty Ninety | "Your Favorite Song"

I've loved this song for a long time and was anticipating this visual. The video is dream-like. Abner treks through city and beach terrain with a bouquet of flowers, only to leave them behind at the end of the video. All the while you hope he'll find this love he's singing about and bring her flowers (flowers fix everything, right ladies?), but instead, it's more symbolic of leaving a relationship in the past.

Best for: The post-holiday sads
Perfect if you like: Tom Petty and The Heart Breakers

Follow Eighty Ninety on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Michael McQuaid | "Wild Love"

This dark pop jam from Michael McQuaid is hard-hitting and shakes the room. It explores the intense parts of love. His collaboration with Milly adds just the perfect touch to the rich song. It's a song about deciding to go all in together.

Best for: NYE dance parties
Perfect if you like: Sam Smith

Follow Michael McQuaid on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Max & Harvey | "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday"

LOVE this take on the original classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday." Performed by Musical.ly stars Max & Harvey, the song is one of the first ambitions from their music project. This song is sure to bring the holiday cheer to your home.

Best for: Decorating the Christmas tree
Perfect if you like: Christmas music!

Follow Max & Harvey on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Cate Hamilton | "Euphoria"

This song from Cate Hamilton's debut EP has a lot of swagger to it. The trap beat underneath her haunting voice moves the song along in a slinky way. The whole EP Angel Baby is a good listen.

Best for: Ending a late night in the tub!
Perfect if you like: Esperanza Spaulding

Follow Cate Hamilton on Instagram

Tash | "I Don't Like Parties"

This amazing banger is smooth and has almost neo-soul elements though it falls strongly under pop R&B. This song speaks to anyone who's felt obligated to go to way too many holiday parties this year. The visual is cool, simple, and supports the song incredibly well.

Best for: Playing hooky from your office holiday party
Perfect if you like: Ariana Grande

Follow Tash on Instagram

Umphrey's McGee | "Half Delayed"

This is the perfect mellow jam to end your day with. I particularly love the unique guitar riff. The vocals are added in tastefully where needed but the song is ultimately minimalistic in all of the best ways. I could see it as the sound track to a movie.

Best for: Riding with the windows down, reflecting on life.
Perfect if you like: The Lumineers

Follow Umphrey's McGee on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Anie Delgado is a contributor to Popdust and is an actress and musician based in NYC. Follow her on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter and check out her music on Spotify. Press inquiries here.

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