Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"The Most Shocking Music Video of 2012"

Well, according to somebody but you decide.

Continuing with our recent infrequent theme of highlighting world music gaining Western notice, we present Die Antwoord. A duo hailing from South Africa, their Afrikaner heritage may explain why they think blackface is larf-worthy. Hip-hop/rave is the what they're labeling it. You might consider their self-conscious attempts at offense to be funny, naive, or just plain mean but more likely they're a combination of all three. I doubt American artists would be allowed the same satiric liberty or politically incorrect latitude these exotic-born stunts are perpetrating here. (Americans are supposed to be held to a higher standard of multi-culti political correctness, or as I like to call it, sensitivity.) In my estimation their "satire" is about 25 ticks harder than anything Ricky Gervais or old schoolers like In Living Color have served up (wait till you see what they pull out of "Lady Gaga's" whisker biscuit) and they've got more anti-celebrity venom than Eminem, Trey Parker and Matt Stone combined (and cubed). (In one scene note the wall behind them is painted with various celebrity slams.) The group, which may also include an anonymous hooded DJ as a third member, are not above unabashed fronting: Die Antwoord is only one part of a long running series of naked commercial enterprises that includes merchandising and other media projects. They'll readily admit their work is aimed at the market which could make them more than a little cynical. And this doesn't even begin to address the many potential circular layers of colonialist offense here which could be as deep as a slave ship hold: White South Africans appropriating and exploiting a diasporic African American art form into a apparently successful business model with acute self-aware ironies. You might accuse them of having all of the street cred of, say, a Vanilla Ice but they're already way ahead of you––mastermind and leader Ninja can be seen wearing a Vanilla Ice t-shirt in YouTube interviews.

Yo-Landi Vi$$er's girly squeak of a voice––she being the ultra slender, ultra-blond, ultra sex kittenish member of the duo––lends a well chosen incongruousness to the profane and expletive loaded spew. (She and Ninja have more than a business union, they have a child together.)

Here, Die Anwoord responds to their critics which may be as interesting as the work itself.

Just for comparison's sake, here's something generally considered to be grittily authentic. One could argue––as bell hooks does so eloquently––it's a little too snug within the white supremacist-capitalist-misogynist patriarchy view of blackness. Because of their brand of apparent authenticity they got a free ride on grief for the flagrant political-incorrectness. Even courting anti-homophobe and anti-misogyny advocates like Sinead O'Connor as fans.

Another approach: Here the jesterism is more open-eyed and the violent nihilism eschewed for a more good natured parody approach. Alas, such maturity didn't garner them the kind of sales enjoyed by NWA. (Gangsta Rap, a genre in which NWA would be pioneers, despite bell hooks, would prove to be a huge seller.)

Thanks to Josh Morris for bringing this to our attention.

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