Not everyone in music has to get along–indeed rivalry and conflict have inspired some of the best pop/rock has to offer–but we should draw the line somewhere, no? I think having a dead ringer (pun intended) for the world’s biggest pop star violently murdered in your video is beyond the pale.
Obviously, Die Antwoord aren’t of the same mind. Spoiler alert: They kill off Lady Gaga in the NSFW video for “Fatty Boom Boom.” Oh and before the Gaga look-alike is eaten by a lion she is robbed at gunpoint, and later shown legs spread in a gynecologist’s office having a locust removed. All of this because she had the nerve to ask the zef ”rappers” to open for her world tour?
Or because she maybe stole Yolandi’s hairstyle for a minute?
Lady Gaga had this to say:
That isn’t even my biggest issue with the video… As you’ll note, 1/2 of the act appears in blackface (blackBODY?!!) throughout. In what world is that appropriate? Certainly not this one. Certainly not in South Africa!
Perhaps if “Fatty Boom Boom” had been filmed in the much-talked-about “post-racial world” (add to it one that’s post-sexist and post-classist as well) the shockingly violent imagery might be acceptable. In that context one might view this as a post-colonial critique of the global north-south tourism industry and the homogenizing effect(s) of globalization.
Instead, in the present context, “Fatty Boom Boom” reads as an absurdly insensitive music video which satirizes global north/western (and white!) perceptions of non-white people (by having them do and say exactly what ignorant whites think they do, i.e. drive taxis, rob cars, shoot white people) so poorly that it might be comical if it weren’t so infuriatingly offensive. For fuck’s sake, the most visible “person of color” in the video is a white South African woman painted up as if she were black while wearing yellow contacts with dollar signs in place of pupils.
Die Antwoord have responded to comments left on Youtube here. I think it far, far from satisfactory.
What do you think?
Editor’s Note: As a South African, a white one at that, I was taken aback by the use of blackface and violence in the video. I don’t appreciate it and I realize it is only for shock value. I enjoy the social commentary in other songs of theirs but this was without merit. The apartheid only ended relatively recently so it really has no foot to stand on. Having said that, watch the video and decide for yourself. Education is the best defense against the type of ignorance illustrated in “Fatty Boom Boom”.
- A.S. Price