MUSIC

Iggy Azalea is Back...And Still Mediocre

Not even Quavo is here for the party on Iggy Azalea's new single.

Iggy Azalea

There's no denying that Azalea has suffered the type of media assassination reserved for pop stars with a bit more stamina.

Mediocrity is kind of Iggy Azalea's brand. If Big Sean is the Nickelback of rap, Azalea is his warm-up playlist bumped through Nick Cannon headphones. The once Grammy-nominated rapper is back and this time, she's looking for salvation. "Savior," her latest single since the twerktastic "Mo Bounce," is generally unremarkable and severely derivative; however, the change in sound is…well, another commercial rebranding of the singer. Her culturally appropriated Southern American accent is still there, don't worry, backed by Cirkut's production and a healthy dose of global ambiguity—a muddled pop song that's sedated by its own lackluster sound.

Since mastering her "blaccent" and perusing Urban Dictionary's most searched slang and colloquialisms, Azalea's career post-"Fancy" is still dragging itself through a sophomore curse. Similar to single "Switch" and its accompanying leaked music video, "Savior" is packaged for international play with a club beat that's agreeably ethnic, you know, salable to white and black kids; this time, thankfully, Azalea opts out of a Pan-African costume design and set—one of her more comical moments of colonial memory.

Migos' Quavo collects his feature check, yawning through the chorus; his absence in the music video leaves more room for fluorescent crosses, in case Azalea's serviceable verses ("Had a dance with the devil and he got a grip on me") don't communicate her pseudo-spiritualism. An ode to her bumpy breakup with basketball star Nick Young and shelved sophomore album, "Digital Distortion," "Savior" wants to be a let's-party-through-the-bad-times anthem, but settles for you've-heard-this-song-before-done-better background noise.

"I wrote it at a really heavy period in my life where I'd had a lot of changes that had happened overnight," she told iHeartRadio in a recent interview. The single is to appear on her upcoming album "Surviving the Summer." There's no denying that Azalea has suffered the type of media assassination reserved for pop stars with a bit more stamina. Unfortunately, Azalea's Twitter beefs, public meltdowns, and embarrassing live performances eclipse her artistry (or rapping? If that's what we're calling it). As an entertainer, Azalea is hard to listen to and fun to watch: Will she get her bars right? Will she try her hand, again, at a Jamaican accent while rhyming "dutty wine" with "grind"? Who knows!

Her label change from Def Jam Recordings to Island Records is telling of her contractual inconsistencies, her many leaked songs, videos, and delayed album releases. Rap is a genre of change, always reinventing itself through language, whether incoherent, mumbled, or a complete lack thereof. Maybe one day Iggy Azalea will find her sound in rap, maybe not. Maybe she'll settle for twerk videos and the occasional hosting gig on Aussie's "X Factor." Maybe she'll wake Quavo up from his nap.


Shaun Harris is a poet, freelance writer, and editor published in avant-garde, feminist journals. Lover of warm-toned makeup palettes, psych-rock, and Hilton Als. Her work has allowed her to copyedit and curate content for various poetry organizations in the NYC area.


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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.