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February 20, 2010

"Jesus Christ, you should see how these boys stalk me"

This post's title comes from a lyric in "Jou ma se poes in 'n fishpaste jar," which is totally about yo mama. You see, Die Antwoord's Ninja voices the common complaint of all faux gangstas -- all the hatas who have placed themselves on his jock. For example, this was shoved through the Poormojo transom:
Re Die Antwoord piece: C'mon, do your research on the race politics of Die Antwoord:
Um, no? Fuck you? Well, okay.
AFRICA IS A COUNTRY : Is Die Antwoord blackface?
I like this piece of of writing, below, by Cape Town writer Rustum Kozain
Firstly, I like Die Antwoord, and my problems are with how Die Antwoord is interpreted and framed. Of course, I don’t know what its creators have in mind;... To me, Die Antwoord is basically blackface and blackface is tricky; it exists on a continuum from satire to parody to mimicry to misdirected appropriation, but the points on the continuum are given valency by reception. As Ninja and Yo-landi are personas, I’ll take Die Antwoord as satirical.... This to me is interesting: that Die Antwoord suggests a fusion of white Afrikaans working class and ‘coloured‘ working class identities, expressed in the most eloquent way through dialect/s. But it cannot escape parody. Waddy Jones is, after all, not white working class Afrikaans (maybe he has roots there, I don’t know; he lives in Higgovale. ... For me the depth of the INVENTION is probably the most troublesome, because it reveals an anthropological bent: it is not a persona that has emerged in any organic way, such as our identities change in different environments; rather, it is a persona invented, but clearly based on detailed anthropological study.
And then a whole lot more words get burned running down what the fuck it all MEANS, and offering this sort of explication de texte to we at Poor Mojo is hilarious, as we pretty much all agree that literary criticism is killing literature, and it ain't too far down the street to state that dissecting the hip-hop frog causes it to fail to hop. Kozain and I and maybe even our anonymous correspondent agree that Die Antwoord is the shit. Kozain mostly says the article I linked to was deeply flawed, for reasons he explains as he goes to great pains to say it is how we white boys at a remove from South Africa are taking it that bothers him. This sort of thing bothered Dave Chappelle, who gave up an enormously popular Comedy Central show -- and coincidentally retreated to South Africa -- partly because the channel's new Viacom leadership didn't like the "N" word, partly because he came to see that some people just don't get it:
He singled out the "pixie sketch" in which pixies appear to people and encourage them to reinforce stereotypes of their races. In the sketch, Chappelle is wearing blackface and is dressed as a character in a minstrel show.According to Chappelle, during the filming of the sketch, a crew member was laughing in a way that made him feel uncomfortable and made him rethink the show.[20][21] Chappelle said "it was the first time I felt that someone was not laughing with me but laughing at me."[20]
I respect Dave Chappelle for making that decision, but also have to say that the artist cannot be responsible for the misuse of his or her message. Here's the $64 question: Is the intention pure? R. Crumb's was when he attempted to satirize white American racism with his strip, "When the niggers take over America:"
RC: Well, yes. It just got so damn touchy, you know. I was naive when I was young, I thought everybody would see the satire, this making fun of the racist images. But oh no. But I can understand it, I can see it can be hurtful, yes. SB: The problem with irony is that sometimes people take it literally. RC: Or, you know, what's called hard satire, which means it's so ... like that strip I did of When The Niggers Take Over America. Ooh... [sucks in breath] it's just too hard. Just the mention of the word "nigger", already people can't deal with that word. You can say "fuck" now, but you can't say "nigger". I understand. But you can't even use it for the purposes of satire, it's just too nasty. SB: What are the purposes of satire? RC: To give us all relief from these taboos and these nervous tensions where things can't be talked about.
Minstrelsy propped up the beliefs of racism and white superiority. Now being able to see that clearly is all part of taking the broken culture of the United States and making it better. I say participation in hip-hop by people of pure intention all along the axes of skin-tone, class and culture makes things better between people. Though I do agree that, yeah, breathless and badly-thought out music criticism sucks.