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FATTY BOOM BOOM
October 17, 2012 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Die Antwoord's new video FATTY BOOM BOOM is a bright and colourful African adventure, complete with wild animals, zef savages singing and dancing in the streets, and a special guest appearance by a sneaky little prawn star. (warning: contains ironic blackface)
posted by Tom-B (160 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yes! This is one of my favorite songs on the album.
posted by griphus at 7:16 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


"At 0:50 is that graffiti of Niki Minaj and someone else crapping out the Black Eyed Peas? Or did I just make that up in my mind."
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:21 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


My mind sees whole body black-face and freezes up for confusion of cultural context. Mind you, I don't define the entire video based on this one aspect, but it sure does trip me up. The rest of it, I love.
posted by PigAlien at 7:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, so, I am incredibly fond of Die Antwoord, but none of my friends enjoy tolerate can stand them, so I hardly ever get to hear their music on anything but headphones. Last week, I visited a friend of mine in ATL, and we drove down the highway in the middle of the night with the windows down and blasting TEN$ION out the windows and I never felt so fucking cool in my life.
posted by griphus at 7:26 AM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


griphus, you look your friends in the face and you tell them fok julle naaiers.
posted by Nomyte at 7:31 AM on October 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


Ah, Die Antwoord threads... Listen folks, if you don't like it/get it, that's cool, but y'know we're probably going to need a bit more than that to make this thread interesting.
posted by howfar at 7:32 AM on October 17, 2012


I have the impression Lady Gaga has a pretty healthy sense of humor and is able to laugh at herself. I'm quite curious what she thinks of this video, and if maybe she'll invite them to open for her! LOL That would be awesome.
posted by PigAlien at 7:35 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The SO and I were supposed to go see them in concert tonight. But sadly...kids come before kickass concerts and they need my money more the Die Antwoord. *sobs*
posted by Sweetmag at 7:37 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, then let's talk about releasing a very conceptually and politically complex piece of art as an infectious dance track to be experienced by a lot of people who won't understand its intended context. What is there to say about that?
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:38 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


What is there to say about that?

Thank god this is no longer the sole territory of grievously serious people with acoustic guitars?
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [30 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. I'll be music shopping later... this is great stuff.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My mind sees whole body black-face and freezes up for confusion of cultural context.

I don't like them, but aren't they white South Africans? Doesn't that make it worse? Especually with what's happening in the mines at the moment with thousands of workers being sacked, also deaths, highlighting the severe social issues.
I was confused by Sister Deborah (Uncle Obama's Banana) and I am out of touch.
posted by Mezentian at 7:54 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure how the blackface is ironic.
posted by empath at 7:57 AM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


we're probably going to need a bit more than that to make this thread interesting

Would love to read some smart critiques of Die Antwoord's music/politics/satire/background/art/presentation. Suggestions, please?
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:58 AM on October 17, 2012


I presume the blackface thing plays not only differently in SA than it does in US, but that they're smart enough to know that it plays differently and exploit it consciously.

Too bad they're still crap, though.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:02 AM on October 17, 2012


I don't really understand them. I'm certain I'm missing lots of context from both hip-hop and South Africa. I'm not sure what to make of the insane ninja death rap kabuki theater. What I do know is that every thing I have seen or heard from them has been really fascinating. So I am seeing them tomorrow night here in St. Louis. I'm not that familiar with their music but I fully expect to be fascinated and bewildered by the show. The promise of that was plenty to get me to buy a ticket last month when I saw their name show up.

I watched the FATTY BOOM BOOM video last night and I find that it is sticking with me this morning more than any other thing of theirs I've seen. Writing this, I just realized that I needed to use the word seen instead of heard as I've only really experienced them through their videos. That suggests to me that they really are putting out something singular as I almost never experience any other music via videos. I actively sought out Die Antwoord purely on the basis of curiosity from what I've read about them (mostly here).
posted by Babblesort at 8:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I tried my best with two FPPs on them, so there's some good stuff in there and the discussion as well. Xeni's explanation of Evil Boy on Boing Boing was surprisingly insightful as the lyrics come off as homophobic, but it turns out the song is a protest against Xhosa ritual male circumcision. Die Antwoord are very well aware of the fact that there are black people in South Africa and what's going on in this video isn't as simple as "oh this is blackface boo racists boo."
posted by griphus at 8:07 AM on October 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


@PigAlien~

I doubt she'll ask them to open for her. Apparently they have a long standing feud with Lady Gaga, where she invited them once before to open for her and they said a resounding NO. Also went on to call her music superficial shit...so I doubt an invitation will be offered any time soon.
posted by Sweetmag at 8:12 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, when you're dealing with any piece of media that is openly and self-consciously dealing with problematic elements, the knee-jerk reaction to the problematic elements is probably the wrong one, especially when you're coming from a completely different cultural context, and the media is absolutely steeped in that cultural context. Just saying "well, that is blackface and that is bad, case closed" for something like this, is like saying "well, Louis CK certainly says 'faggot' and 'nigger' a lot which means he is terrible."
posted by griphus at 8:13 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Their music confuses me (even though I understand the lyrics).

This is a VERY good thing.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:15 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks, Sweetmag! I'm amused by the spats of musicians.
posted by PigAlien at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, you critics probably also wanted to criticize that thing from Eurovision 2007, but it's absolutely steeped in Ukrainian culture and it's only up to us Ukrainians to truly understand it. So nyaah!
posted by Nomyte at 8:18 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


How is this even blackface? Her eyes are yellow and the guy's face is red. Maybe you're putting your culture into its context unfairly.

This is mesmerizing with that rhythm. Very cool.
posted by hellslinger at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Great use of sarcasm Nomyte.

No seriously. Arguing against a knee jerk reaction to this has nothing to do with saying things can only be understood in one cultural context, quite the opposite in fact.
posted by howfar at 8:26 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was actually quite serious. No one understands Verka Serduchka as intimately as I do.
posted by Nomyte at 8:28 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


A very sneaky prawn indeed.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2012


I don't like them, but aren't they white South Africans? Doesn't that make it worse?

Well, South Africans are most likely to be familiar with Blackface in the context of festivals held by the Cape Coloured community who are part of South Africa's cosmopolitan coloured race, who where treated as distinct from either White or Black South Africans under Apartheid and who have a distinct culture.
Like Afrikaaners* they speak Afrikaans as their first language.

*Not all white South Africans are Afrikaaners and there is an ethnic divide among white South Africans between Afrikaaners and Anglos.
posted by atrazine at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Plz. make an FPP on Verka Serduchka before I try to and make a terrible mess of things.
posted by griphus at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


We had one five years ago courtesy of flapjax, but we could use another.
posted by Nomyte at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2012


Make that mess griphus, make it good.
posted by howfar at 8:33 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In case anyone is interested here is flt's FPP on Verka Serduchka.
posted by griphus at 8:35 AM on October 17, 2012


What a great video! I love every single video Die Antwoord has done and I absolutely hate their music. Who's doing their video production? Is it the musicians or is there some evil genius behind their video imagery? The band's whole persona is crazy and weird but also brilliantly constructed.

I'm sorry the post here led with the blackface thing. MeFi is mostly dominated by American users and I don't think we can really understand what's going on with all the racial coding in Die Antwoord's videos. South Africa has a huge fucking original sin of racism, a travesty much more recent than the US. Let their artists process it; if you watch without reflexive judging, you might learn something.
posted by Nelson at 8:36 AM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


I don't like them, but aren't they white South Africans? Doesn't that make it worse?


Black face does not have the same connotation in SA, I mean they still hold the annual Coon Carnival in cape town. Though the vast majority of the participants are working class coloured not black. It's hard to explain SA is damn complex at the best of times.
posted by Virtblue at 8:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I dunno, this video of theirs didn't thrill me.
posted by Nomyte at 8:41 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nelson it has become customary in the US for people to apologize in advance for any possible offense that someone may choose to express.
posted by hellslinger at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


No one understands Verka Serduchka as intimately as I do.

Perhaps not , but I LOVE.

Die Antwoord, I have found, are very much visual. Without the videos or at least some aspect of performance, they are kind of a chore to listen to - repetitive,but not in a terribly catchy way. This is mainly based on my reaction to finally hearing the first album without the benefit of video for the first time recently - I was kind of taken aback.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:43 AM on October 17, 2012


I still don't understand Die Antwoord, and I'm still not sure if I like or hate their music. I honestly can't remember the last time I felt this confused and conflicted about an artist. Their videos are always interesting, even when I don't understand the imagery, but I'm less certain what I think of the actual music.
posted by asnider at 8:52 AM on October 17, 2012


I want to say, "still, better than Nickleback" but...meh.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:52 AM on October 17, 2012


As an aside, I noted this in the 'The Quietus' review of the Ten$ion album:
If it actually were a movie, Ten$ion might look something like the satirically gaudy Robocop, as opposed to the noir pulp-art of Blade Runner. It is, however, the godless L.A 2019 of Ridley Scott's opus that Ten$ion more resembles. As the country experiences a mass exodus of its educated classes on both sides of the racial divide, Ten$ion, like Blade Runner, depicts an industrially-defiled world where the rich have bought their way into heaven: the 'off-world colonies'.
Coincidentally, this theme is central to the new film by South African writer/director Neill Blomkamp, Elysium, due for release in 2013.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:59 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The music is crap and there is no such thing as ironic blackface.
posted by eunoia at 9:00 AM on October 17, 2012


Without the videos or at least some aspect of performance, they are kind of a chore to listen to - repetitive,but not in a terribly catchy way. This is mainly based on my reaction to finally hearing the first album without the benefit of video for the first time recently - I was kind of taken aback.

I think this gets pretty close to my response to Die Antwoord. Without the videos to distract your attention, the music, on its own, does not hold-up very well.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:03 AM on October 17, 2012


The issue with the mine strikes isn't really white versus black, imo -- it's the ANC and its allies versus the black underclass.

No comment on the blackface, but... if there's one thing I've learned from being an American living in South Africa it's that it's rarely useful to look at SA's race politics through a US lens. We're better off asking for South African perspectives.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:11 AM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


I didn't need to see her give birth to a grasshopper. Fucking gross.
posted by stormpooper at 9:13 AM on October 17, 2012


I saw Die Antwoord in concert two nights ago here in Dallas. I fall in the same "love 'em but my friends think I'm crazy" situation. The energy they brought to the stage surprisingly trumps their recordings. Hundreds of people jumping up and down and chanting. I need more of these kind of friends.
posted by hillabeans at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I first saw this video my knee jerk response was "oh man, blackface?" but then looking at the other uses of body paint in the video I started asking myself where the line lies between "blackface" and "black body paint". For me, it was enough to go back and look at a (relatively mild) historical instance of blackface I was exposed to quite often as a kid in Holiday Inn which serves a much different purpose than black bodypaint in the Die Antwoord video.

In Holiday Inn, the intent obviously is to cast white performers as black, which seems rather problematic for many reasons. I don't really see that hallmark in the Die Antwoord video, especially given the wide array of other body paint effects used, to me it appears they are merely using black body paint and not blackface.

I'm still not completely convinced by Ninja's justification for including a recitation of this offensive Mike Tyson rant (by the purportedly gay DJ Hi-Tek) on Ten$ion.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 9:43 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was unaware of this musician. I watched with my jaw on the floor, fascinated by the imagery. So much social commentary, most of which I don't even get not being from South Africa. Wow, that was some pretty powerful stuff.
posted by haunted by Leonard Cohen at 9:52 AM on October 17, 2012


Too bad they're still crap, though.

I prefer them to Journey.
posted by philip-random at 9:55 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er, is the grasshopper a District 9 reference?

please say that it is
posted by jquinby at 9:57 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned about Die Antwoord through my sister, who absolutely loves them. I can like some of their songs, like this one, but the Ziggurat, that's another story. Even though my feelings about Die Antwoord are confused, I am sure of one thing: Yolandi Vi$$er is not of this planet.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 9:57 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I went to see them this weekend (at the miserable music festival Austin hold yearly, ACL. God what suckage.) and within 30 seconds, my wife, my friend, my sister and her partner all wandered away in disgust. They DID start with the song Matt Oneiros linked too.

They were the best thing at the whole festival (mainly because no other stages were able to bleed over into their grinding wail).

They're music is definitely enhanced by their videos, but their live show is theatrical enough to be . . . enthralling.
posted by Seamus at 9:59 AM on October 17, 2012


Yeah, can I have a cultural translator please? This is fascinating, but besides the Gaga character (still not sure I even got ALL that joke, tbh), I feel like I've been paradropped in an alien culture of human chamaleons who groupthink in 5D and have an extra sense for neutrinos. In short, what the fuck was all that about?
posted by Iosephus at 10:07 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]




hellslinger: "Nelson it has become customary in the US for people to apologize in advance for any possible offense that someone may choose to express."

Hey! What the hell man? :(
posted by boo_radley at 10:15 AM on October 17, 2012


I only discovered Die Antwoord last year, and they quickly became one of my favorites. They're just.. so.. weird. It's definitely art as much as it is music -- see their previous band "corporate hiphop group" Max Normal. Occasionally they go far enough into their personas that I become uncomfortable (including scenes in this very video), but that's just part of the gig of being performance artists.

Also, they made a short film with controversial indie director Harmony Korine in 2011.
posted by jess at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


I didn't even see it as blackface -- I saw it as Yolandi made up to look like the black panther in the video. It seemed pretty obvious to me. Look at her eyes and her clothes.
posted by chimaera at 10:21 AM on October 17, 2012 [12 favorites]


jquinby: "Er, is the grasshopper a District 9 reference?

please say that it is
"

they namedrop neill blomkamp at ever possible moment, so yeah, probably.
posted by boo_radley at 10:22 AM on October 17, 2012


Even though my feelings about Die Antwoord are confused, I am sure of one thing: Yolandi Vi$$er is not of this planet.

I tend to think of Björk as Seelie court and Vi$$er as Unseelie.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [33 favorites]


also this video was brought to me by Mitt Romney.
posted by boo_radley at 10:23 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Without the videos to distract your attention, the music, on its own, does not hold-up very well.

Would you please remove I Fink u Freeky from my head, then? Because it's been on mental autoplay since I saw this thread and I'm trying to get some work done.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I prefer them to Journey.

You take that back, TAKE THAT BACK NOW!
posted by mediocre at 10:25 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In short, what the fuck was all that about?

Mostly getting noticed, I suspect. It's a crowded POP marketplace out there. Deep down inside, I suspect these are rather normal people who have discovered that there's currency (and fun) in unleashing their inner freak (we've all got one). Which makes Die Antwoord enjoyable in a skin deep NOW sort of way. Which is clearly a huge part of the point -- they are artists playing in the pop spotlight for us all to see. If you're a certain age and this is entirely new to you, I can imagine it being quite amazing, profound even. But if you're middle-aged, jaded, with a huge fucking lawn to keep in order, it's more akin to Madonna-meets-Marilyn-Manson-by-way-of-Happy-Hardcore-DeeeLite-yadda-yadda ... but updated, of course.

But if I closed my eyes, would there be any actual depth, reason, quality to the music? That's a harder question to answer and, in any event, I suspect it's at best only half the point.
posted by philip-random at 10:26 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


This was good, not as genius as their other videos, but how can I expect anyone to maintain that level? I don’t really get the Lady Gaga part, but I don’t really know anything about her (or have even heard her).

I don’t understand how this is blackface. Are the other parts red and white face? Maybe seeing something that isn’t there. Or are you allowed to paint your body any color except black? What if you just put a little under your eyes like football players, etc? How much are you allowed to put under your eyes? Blackface is a lot more than some paint.
posted by bongo_x at 10:30 AM on October 17, 2012


Blackface is a lot more than some paint.

Well, this just happened. Ugh.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:35 AM on October 17, 2012


eunoia: The music is crap and there is no such thing as ironic blackface.
The first half of your sentence is mere opinion; the second half is hopelessly narcissistic.

Not all thoughts and actions in the entire world must be interpreted against US history.

Now, if anyone knee-jerking against the blackface wants to explain why, in the context in which Die Antwoord lives and made this video, the blackface was meant in a racist manner... that would be different. And not knee-jerking.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:36 AM on October 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


When considering the blackface here it's also worth considering who else Die Antwoord includes in their videos. Fok Julle Naiiers and I Fink U Freeky both feature folks from a variety of racial backgrounds -- and more to the point, they feature faces and bodies which are normally entirely absent from media. Many are missing teeth. Some have congenital defects. Whether this is exploitation for shock value, I leave it to you to judge for yourself, but everyone on set appears to be a willing (even valued) participant allowed to display strength and ferocity, and the overall effect confronts the high-gloss normalcy of the media, making zef a place for those who can't fit in.

Just one datapoint, I've got a "colored" South African friend who was involved in the anti-apartheid movement, and she thinks Die Antwoord are hilarious and brilliant. Their effect in South Africa mostly seems to be pissing off "proper" Afrikaaners through performance art, and she enjoys that.

As a white American who participates in NYC's African dance community, I think it's noteworthy that this is the first Die Antwoord video I've seen where the dancing evokes traditional African dance... more performance of the exotic along with the wild animals which routinely make appearances in their videos, mm?
posted by gusandrews at 11:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Even though my feelings about Die Antwoord are confused, I am sure of one thing: Yolandi Vi$$er is not of this planet.

I tend to think of Björk as Seelie court and Vi$$er as Unseelie.


I had to look up Seelie, but that nails it. Yolandi's look and voice do the same thing to me as Björk's... they make me want to fly into fly into their arms and succumb to the ecstatic magic. But I think Yolandi would chew me up and spit out my bones.

Any yeah, she's definitely playing up a cross of the lion, panther, and hyena more than blackface. Look at the eyes, the hair, the dress.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:09 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


IAmBroom: Did you mean a historical context?

The vast majority of scholarship on the nineteenth century antecedents of apartheid employs materialist perspectives which privilege political economic explanations over all others. This approach rarely addresses the ways in which discourse and culture contributed to the creation of South African racial hierarchies. Recent post-structuralist interventions have demonstrated that culture offered extremely significant discursive contributions to the formation of racial identities in nineteenth century South Africa. These post- structuralist works have not adequately addressed the complex ways in which minstrelsy contributed to the construction and maintenance of South African racial hierarchies... I argue that the minstrel show may have been the major discursive institution working to construct racial difference in late nineteenth century South Africa...Over the past fifteen years a wave of revisionist histories have been published on early minstrelsy and these histories seem to occupy a central position in the academy at the present moment. These revisionist histories have attempted to redefine the racial meanings of minstrelsy by demonstrating that the early minstrel show was not simply about racial domination, but was also a means to express a certain amount of admiration for black culture, an ambiguous appreciation for black people, and ultimately may have had liberating possibilities. Through close readings of archival materials I argue against this perspective by demonstrating that the minstrel show was first and foremost a vicious cultural production of racial denigration.

-An actual historian
"Nothing Now Goes Down But Burnt Cork": Blackface Minstrelsy and Ethnic Impersonation in South Africa, 1862--1968

And mere opinion or not, that music is crap.
posted by eunoia at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I don’t understand how this is blackface. Are the other parts red and white face? Maybe seeing something that isn’t there. Or are you allowed to paint your body any color except black? What if you just put a little under your eyes like football players, etc? How much are you allowed to put under your eyes? Blackface is a lot more than some paint."

Bongo_x, although my immediate and initial reaction was "whole body blackface??", as I tried to think about what kind of cultural context this could represent, and what I might be missing, I had a similar thought to yours. Body painting in multiple colors and on multiple backgrounds is present in the video, and Yolandi and Ninja switch body paint colors throughout the video.
posted by PigAlien at 11:21 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait. I think maybe she's supposed to be a panther? (The yellow eyes).
posted by atrazine at 11:27 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Frankly, Yo-Landi's so pale that true black is the most shocking on her.
posted by gusandrews at 11:32 AM on October 17, 2012


"These revisionist histories have attempted to redefine the racial meanings of minstrelsy by demonstrating that the early minstrel show was not simply about racial domination, but was also a means to express a certain amount of admiration for black culture, an ambiguous appreciation for black people, and ultimately may have had liberating possibilities."

How does this apply to the matter at hand? The video is not treating the concept of blackface as a method of admiration or appreciation.
posted by griphus at 11:36 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


See this short feature on their design guru Roger Ballen which should clear up some confusion.
posted by Catblack at 11:47 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


That doesn't look like "blackface" so much as just... a whole lot of paint, none of it resembling human flesh tones. If anything yo-landi's outfit is a panther costume - look at those eyes.

Well, congratulations to Die Antwoord, once again they've managed to produce a video that pushes so many buttons so hard that it leaves you feeling thoroughly fucked-with without necessarily knowing how or why.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Says OkayAfrica:
They always comment on how no one outside of South Africa knows much about the country except for Zulus, Nelson Mandela and Die Antwoord. This could be a comment on that – everything exhibited in hyperbole in typical DA style. But they may have taken the race thing too far, considering how much they’ve already capitalized on a marginalized culture (they acknowledge it themselves: “GOT A OFFSHORE ACCOUNT FOR DA DOLLAR BILLZ DAT I STACK”)
From AfricaIsACountry on Die Antwoord in general (I expect they'll have more to say at some point in time)
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 dialects.
But it cannot escape parody.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2012


I don't think people should get so hung up on the 'blackface' thing; even if it was, as an act of racism committed by a white South African it would be such small potatoes compared to what sort of stuff does go on. I'd suggest it's a commentary on white people doing 'black' music, and the influence of black culture on white South African artists, and how such artists (Zef and hip-hop types, but also other SA okes like Jonny Clegg) lean on their 'African-ness' to carve out a niche for themselves and win fans in places like Metafilter; it might also be a reference to the tradition among Xhosa women (and perhaps other cultures but I wouldn't know) to paint their faces with white clay.
What people should get hung up on is how a group so utterly lacking in the ability to make good music has managed, through carefully crafted personae (as they seem to be referencing here) to be so popular and ubiquitous. Sure their videos are good - this is probably their best, at least until the song starts - but as the far superior zef rapper Jack Parrow says of them "I'm here to rap not to make fucking movies." Doesn't the music matter any more?

Incidentally Fatty Boom Boom is a song that was a hit on SA radio back in the 70s
posted by Flashman at 12:14 PM on October 17, 2012


Doesn't the music matter any more?

Did the music ever really matter with Die Antwoord? As far as I can tell their music has always been a relatively thin cover for the performance art. They're doing music videos because that's the way people are used to distributing and watching short performance art pieces.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great production values, and that does count for something.

And man, I'm so fucking out of touch, I kind of thought that really was Lady Gaga in the back of the van.

*sigh*
posted by From Bklyn at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2012


If a blonde girl in black body paint with yellow $ sign eyeballs is wrong, I don't want to be right.
posted by fungible at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Look, I know this might be hard to grasp for some people, but CLEARLY SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR MUSIC. To act like no one does and it's some universal truth that they are terrible is just being willfully ignorant. I think they have some mediocre songs but also fantastic ones, Evil Boy for instance.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


There was a short teaser for this video last week. (NSFW, of course.)
posted by Catblack at 12:42 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, that video needed more of the big black lady dancing in it.
posted by koeselitz at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


...but as the far superior zef rapper Jack Parrow says of them "I'm here to rap not to make fucking movies."
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


CLEARLY SOME PEOPLE LIKE THEIR MUSIC.

More people like Barry Manilow. Your point?

Their baked-in racism, rape culture and proud ignorance are given a pass because they're Native South Africans. Probably had relatives who ran the prison where Mandela was held but lost the job and became African White Trash.

Video would make a great tourist film for "Anywhere BUT Africa".
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Probably had relatives who ran the prison where Mandela was held but lost the job and became African White Trash.

I fucking hate racism too buddy.
posted by howfar at 1:27 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey! What the hell man? :(

It's my observation, as an American, that anything that even remotely resembles a racist image gets a conspicuously "sensitive" pointing-out. Sometimes this comes out as establishing a safe distance from the observer just so that everyone knows that "it wasn't me" just in case one person firmly decides it was offensive.
posted by hellslinger at 2:00 PM on October 17, 2012


Americans: blackface is considered highly racist in the United States, but in other countries it may very well not be considered racist. This is a cultural-specific thing.
posted by zardoz at 2:20 PM on October 17, 2012


Their effect in South Africa mostly seems to be pissing off "proper" Afrikaaners through performance art

Sort of like Bittercomix, which shares the same sort of deliberately offensive racial imagery deployed ironically to piss off true Afrikaaners.

In the meantime, it's a couple of weeks at the most before much of the country here is going to embrace blackface on a scale to make the most dedicated Confederate apologist go, erm, isn't that a bit too much cultural tradition as we pretend the army of Zwarte Pieten, all with curly paper mache hair and big gleaming red lips have nothing to do with actually existing Black people, no uhhh, it's because they have to drop down cimneys and besides they represent the devil who Saint Nicholas defeated and there's nothing problematic about them being in service to an elderly white man dressed up as a bishop and with a tendency to put young children in his lap (on the plus side, he is the only Turkish immigrant Geert Wilders approves off).

So I can't really say anything about this video, other than that in the context of it, the black bodypaint doesn't look like blackface to me, just another element in Die Antwoord's pantomine plays.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was about to say, isn't this the time of year when the Netherlands gets invaded by six to eight black men?
posted by Nomyte at 2:39 PM on October 17, 2012


Not a single obese person in a video for a song called "Fatty boom boom?" Makes no fucking sense.
posted by Renoroc at 3:04 PM on October 17, 2012


oneswellfwoop: "Their baked-in racism, [. . .]"

I feel as if reasonable people can hold differing opinions on this given the available evidence.

"[. . .] rape culture [. . .]"

Example? If you're referring to the DJ HiTek soliloquy on Ten$ion, I think once you get past whether it's in good taste or not, it's fairly apparent that they're mocking the violent, unrestrained entertainment machine AKA Mike Tyson who has gotten quite more deleterious "passes" than I see anyone giving Die Antwoord.

Addressing rape culture is important, back up your accusation with a citation, don't just trot out "rape culture" on anything you don't like or find distasteful.

"[. . .] proud ignorance [. . .]"

If you took a couple minutes to review Ninja's (AKA Watkin Tudor Jones, Wad-E, Max Normal) and Yolandi Visser's careers and past projects you might see that they're no more ignorant than a typical American with a Masters in fine art.

"Probably had relatives who ran the prison where Mandela was held but lost the job and became African White Trash."

So what, white people born in South Africa should just shut up and never create art or anything? Or like, should provide a pedigree stating "none of my ancestors did anything objectionable"?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Er, is the grasshopper a District 9 reference?

Yes, it's a prawn.
posted by droomoord at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2012


i will say straight out that i love die antwoord. i, like most of the rest of the world, saw them first with 'i fink you freeky' - i then went back and watched everything i could find. if you think their music is shallow, you're not listening. if you think they just make movies that don't connect to their music, you're not watching. i think everyone who is or isn't a fan should watch total fuck up and the way of the dassie from the maxnormal.tv era. especially that first one, talking about maybe he should give up being different and take some E and join the rave scene.

their lady gaga reaction is best summed up by yolandi when they were asked to open for gaga earlier this year That would seriously f**k up our cool. it's my impression that they think they're doing real performance art and she's just doing a pop show dressed up like performance art. like the difference between bikini kill and the spice girls - they both say they stand for woman, but one seemingly did it honestly and the other did it as a PR move.

the other things some might be missing - in that painting in the back (as is pointed out in the link in the second comment) it's Top: Lady Gaga, Drake, Kanye, Pitbull - Middle: Lil Wayne, Akon, Nicki Minaj - Shit: Black Eyed Peas. it might seem random, but as far as i can tell, all of those artists are in some way affiliated with UMG. i wonder if that's related to the part where yolandi raps about someone being interested now that they're blowing up overseas.

as far as the imagery in the video (the wild animals, the gyno/dentist, the tour bus, etc), it reads to me as a satire of what everyone thinks SA is. i think this plays into the black body paint - to me, it reads more as a female golliwog doll. add to that dj hi-tek's vaguely kkk shaped hood and the white clay body paint - i think it's commentary on how the international press/fans/internet reacts to their country and their place in it.
posted by nadawi at 3:10 PM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


(i should add that i love lady gaga and i don't think the space between die antwoord and her is as big as the space between bikini kill and the spice girls - just that it's my impression that's die antwoord's opinion)
posted by nadawi at 3:13 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have the impression Lady Gaga has a pretty healthy sense of humor and is able to laugh at herself. I'm quite curious what she thinks of this video

we have an answer to that question. it appears the answer is not rollicking humor. die antwoord respond with more comments about coolness. the link goes to ONTD - easier than linking to individual tweets.
posted by nadawi at 3:19 PM on October 17, 2012


no class
posted by Substrata at 3:42 PM on October 17, 2012


no class

No punctuation or capitalization.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:24 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fucking love this band. Loved them for the beats, and love them the more I talk to actual South Africans about them. This is a country still dealing with a great deal of scorched earth and fallout from apartheid. This band shines a very honest and unflinching spotlight on it - not based on wishful thinking of what may be, but the grim truth of what is.

And no, it is not blackface. She's a panther, guys. I wish the "blackface" remark hadn't even been in the FPP, because now we have half the thread going on about that, in between the single-sentence "shit band is shit" throwaway comments.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:29 PM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I love them and wish I could see them on their tour.

the far superior zef rapper Jack Parrow yt

He's good, but it's different rather than better. I mean, I'm glad that you think he's superior, but your favorite band sucks too, etc.

DA is straight up performance art (of which great music is a part) and I love how physical their music and videos are. Not just the dancing, but the art and costumes and tattoos and the lighting on people's skin. Watching it I feel like I know what everything in their videos would feel like to touch.

I wish I could understand Afrikaans, though; without it, I'm getting only a portion of the lyrics, and missing so much. (Listening to Afrikaans is weird, though, because I'm always feeling on the edge of comprehension without quite getting there; I can puzzle my way through phrases and sentences that show up in South African novels, but that's a long way from getting it at all.)
posted by Forktine at 5:05 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


One thing I like about Die Antwoord's music itself is a fairly specific aspect of the production, which gives the bass a resonant boom without tending toward the jarring. I think this is mainly produced by using quite a lot of reverb on the lower tones while avoiding high-mid frequencies. There's not a huge amount of snare and cymbal sounds used on a lot of tracks. Anyway, whatever it is, I like that fact that a lot of the tracks have a decent weight to the bottom end while still maintaining a poppy listenability.
posted by howfar at 5:18 PM on October 17, 2012


He's good, but it's different rather than better. I mean, I'm glad that you think he's superior, but your favorite band sucks too, etc.

Aye, and aye, guilty as charged. I'm sorry but I can't help but proselytize on behalf of Mr. Parrow given any opportunity as I think he's brilliant and I want to boost a fellow South African who's doing something well. Then again, (wrt to what I wrote above) he's as much a persona as DA, right down to his name, but at least he raps about things that are real and that I can relate to. And I have a soft spot for clever word play which is pretty much why I like rap as a genre.
His stuff isn't all Afrikaans (and mine is rudimentary too), but in that track he's just name-checking a bunch of banal aspects of South African life - the Spur steakhouse, Pep discount clothing stores, old Peugeots - in comparison to the lives of the beautiful young jet-set of Cape Town: "..I drink Klipdrift [cheap brandy], you drink Peroni/ you've got friends in Sweden, I've got friends in Benoni [drab suburb of Johannesburg]...." etc
posted by Flashman at 5:56 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Know why I like Die Antwoord? They seem dangerous. I haven't been this scared of a few scrawny people since I heard Tool for the first time. Music should be risky sometimes.
posted by echo target at 6:44 PM on October 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Die Antwoord's music is not my cup of tea, but I've never seen a video from them that wasn't very interesting and uncomfortable-making in some way, and that's probably good.

Although I think as I approach my dotage, it becomes a little harder for me, strangely, to distinguish provocative or edgy (for lack of a better word) stuff that is provocative for the sake of provocation from stuff that is provocative in an attempt to inspire thought or insight.

Maybe it's the culture changing, maybe it's me. Maybe there's no difference in the end. I'm not really sure.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:08 PM on October 17, 2012


All right, so they specifically show the black panther during the opening sequence and then there is Yolanda with panther eyes and black make-up. The cat imagery is obviously important to the video (since they make references to how the panther and lion will help keep thieves out of the store) and I read Ninja's make-up as somewhat lion-like (using this better make-up design as an example, you'll note that the jowls frame the mouth in a way that's very similar to Ninja's make-up).

Indeed, the robot/traffic light reference, the panther reference and the lion reference can all be seen as deliberate references to the three band members - the DJ here being the robot/traffic light, whose music makes things start and stop.

So one reading of the video - which I think is supported by the opening bit - is that DA is claiming they're hard for non-South Africans to understand (the robot/traffic light discussion) an that they're like guard-animals, keeping South Africa safe from musical plunder.

This seems to be at least somewhat supported by the lyrics. Additionally, perhaps (as Nelson points out) "I don't think we can really understand what's going on with all the racial coding in Die Antwoord's videos."

That said, even if she is meant to be a panther, man, it looks like black face and I think Yolanda and Ninja are both smart enough to recognize that the make-up would be seen that way, too. Clearly a deliberately provocative choice. What does it mean for a South African artist on the world stage to wear black face? Are they asking us to ask questions about South Africa? Are they actually courting accusations of racism and laughing at us for not understanding South African culture? Are they racist and not aware of it? Are they racist and they embrace it? Are they not racist and I just don't know what is going on?

There aren't a whole lot of videos that disturb me (and this one did) and make me think of their meaning (and this one did) and make me then question my own ignorance (and this one did). So, I'm not sure if I liked it or not, but I'm going to watch it again and its going to stay with me for a bit.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:30 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Finally that haircut from Dumb & Dumber is getting its comeuppance.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:36 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I prefer them to Journey.

You take that back, TAKE THAT BACK NOW!
posted by mediocre at 10:25 AM on October 17


No music video De Antwoort have made or ever will make will be flat-out weirder than Journey's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
posted by AdamCSnider at 8:37 PM on October 17, 2012


Oh god some of you are dense. Look at the opening -- it's a bunch of clueless white people taking a "tour" of "real" Africa (not just South Africa).

Oh, in Africa there are pumas and lions, even in the city LOL!

If you're getting offended by the blackface you are totally being played and I invite you to go to the clue-store.

Also, Yo-landi is so hot it hurts.
posted by bardic at 8:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh yeah, well the jerk store called.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:49 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was probably me because I work there.
posted by bardic at 8:53 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did the 4chan I ordered come in yet?
posted by njloof at 8:55 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, but that drumming instructional video did.
posted by griphus at 9:01 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


than Journey's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

believe that's Bonnie Tyler. Die Antwoord's better than her, too.
posted by philip-random at 9:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Americans: blackface is considered highly racist in the United States, but in other countries it may very well not be considered racist. This is a cultural-specific thing.

Well as long as we're disseminating helpful information to Americans, how about some from SA culture mag Mahala?

DIE ANTWOORD ARE NOT REAL. THEY ARE NOT POOR. WADDY (OR ‘NINJA’) IS NOT AFRIKAANS. THEY DO NOT HAVE THOSE ACCENTS. THEY COULD AFFORD MUCH BETTER TATTOOS IF THEY WERE SO INCLINED. THEY DO NOT DRESS LIKE THAT NORMALLY. THEY DO NOT LIVE IN THAT BACK GARDEN THEY FILMED THAT GODDAM ‘INTERVIEW’ IN. THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PRISON. THEY ARE NOT EVIL OR STUPID. THEY ARE NOT ZEF. ZEF IS NOT A THING THE WAY YOU THINK IT IS. THEIR DAUGHTER DOES NOT WALK ABOUT WITH A SNAKE AROUND HER NECK. ETCETERA

So anyway, there's plenty of discussion by South Africans whether or not Die Antwoord are using racist and homophobic language and imagery to cash in, whether their cultural appropriation of other SA music and art is cynical, inspired, opportunistic, artistic, or just plain bullshit. The things that are triggering this are many of the same words and imagery that Americans are responding to, plus a whole host of other, more SA specific history, natch. It's one thing to try to be instructive about the differences, particularly with regards to racial politics and history between the two cultures. It's another to use it to be dismissive, and in this thread it is not always easy to tell who is trying to do what with their admonitions. I very strongly doubt that DA did not anticipate any heated response to painting Yolandi dark brown; you'd seriously have to have your head in the sand WRT to DA's use of loaded apartheid/racial imagery in previous videos and how that went to believe otherwise. If you've been paying attention, you know that walking a thin line amongst identity politics while potentially pissing people off is the way they've chosen to do their thing. You can agree or disagree with how far they should go and whether or not you find it okay or abhorrent, but the imagery used by DA is deliberately provocative, and it shouldn't be dismissed as unfathomable exotica that Americans have no basis to discuss. Particularly since DA are positioning themselves and their zef personae for export ( one hint: hardly any of their lyrics are in Afrikaans on TEN$ION, unlike $O$) and fully expect Americans to be watching and responding to their videos. When DA started blowing up in the US and UK, Mungo Adonis went out to Cape Flats to see if anyone he ran into on the street had heard of them- they hadn't, in his admittedly small sample. Still, it's kind of unrealistic to pretend at this point that DA don't think tactically about their US audience and their exotic, mysterious, unknowable, and edgy zef perosona. This video was made for people outside of South Africa, hence Lady Gaga, tourism, exotica, kidnappers, and blackface. It's okay for Americans to have opinions about those things in that context.

I don’t like Die Antwoord. I’ve bought into Waddy’s other incarnations before and I’m running low on indulgence this time around. Mildly ironic, as it’s his current project that’s threatening to garner the success that he’s been dodging for decades. I wouldn’t mind having him appropriate another culture if it was done in a less cynical way. See, what’s novel and funny to white people smells like plastic and opportunism to coloured people.
For my part, I know the Flats. I grew up with the people that Die Antwoord is pastiching.

posted by oneirodynia at 9:35 PM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world
What you fucking think, I'm the type of chick
Who rolls with spif giftige misfits
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


LOVE. IT.
posted by unknowncommand at 10:24 PM on October 17, 2012


there's no way the smart people in DA don't recognize the obvious parallels between lady gaga's tactics + approaches, and their own. kinda like how the religious extremists of one faith love to hate the religious extremists of another: they speak the same language, the recognize themselves in a hated other. that's what i get from this video, mostly. the race stuff, meh, honestly, I think they just dig the keith haring bold colors aesthetic. I also think its bullshit that whenever a white dude references race in some manner or other, people feel they gotta analyze, like, oh shit, this must be important. hiphop, i still believe firmly, has a very much a nonwhite aura: that's part of the allure to white people. mc fucking karl rove, for example. not being a rapper, i can only imagine there's some pretty 'interesting' stuff to think about, historically, socially, in being a white practitioner of a still nonwhite art form. the point: little, to nothing of that process of thinking or examining oneself, as a white rapper, I would think, would end up yielding anything interesting to say about the race experience of, say, black people. it sure doesn't in this video, anyway.
posted by notesondismantling at 10:36 PM on October 17, 2012


i think they're trying to push buttons. it seems obvious to me that all of it was meant to play a few different ways, at least half of them offensive. for americans to react all in a titter about our feelings towards blackface is playing straight into it. asking questions about the cultures they're (obviously) putting on for performance and about the country and about their place in their own scene - i still think that's a fine thing to do.

like i said up thread, watkins and yolandi told us it's a put on in their maxnormal.tv material. you can find lots and lots of americans who know this isn't how they always dressed, always sounded, we've seen the cute pictures of their daughter on the car with waddy. it's also obvious that their material now is outward facing, they openly mock their international fame and the money it pulls in. they call us all stupid for not knowing it's a joke.

it sort of reminds me of the whole white stripes thing, like the fact that they lied about being siblings for PR or art or whatever means that they didn't make good music, or that the lie wasn't still interesting to consider, or that the truth can't be more interesting in the face of the lie. i like a little weirdness injected into my music, and i don't really mind when that weirdness comes out of art school. i like lady gaga and amanda palmer and kreayshawn and riot grrls and tom waits. for basically all of them you can pull out pictures and video that show them as not whatever act they've put on - who cares? the performance is still interesting.
posted by nadawi at 12:12 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm missing the blackface. Isn't she a panther or something? Because if doo-da minstrels usually have enormous yellow cats eyes, I've been missing out.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:24 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]




DIE ANTWOORD ARE NOT REAL. THEY ARE NOT POOR. WADDY (OR ‘NINJA’) IS NOT AFRIKAANS

It has always been my understanding that DA is engaging in whiteface minstrelsy. I note that Yolanda appears in white body paint in the video as well.
posted by mwhybark at 5:47 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Die Antwoord...wish I could go see them tonight in STL but I have to work.
posted by schyler523 at 6:25 AM on October 18, 2012


South African here. Also have followed Ninja aka. Watkin Tudor Jones/ Waddy's career since the 90s and have also met him and Yolandi a couple of times.

He is an incredibly innovative, creative, skilled and bold artist (I don't use that term very often)... one of those guys who makes other creative types cringe with envy and feelings of inadequacy. :)

Over the decades he's been involved in several different projects, all of them very impressive. But as it is for 99% of South African artists, there was very little recognition, support and money. It's a serious struggle and I have personally known many talented artists that eventually gave up and took on normal day-jobs.

His previous projects range from Cypress Hill-inspired pot-rap (with the Original Evergreens) to avant'garde art projects like the Zigurat. MaxNormal.TV had a fair amount of support in the local gig scene but he really hit the nail on the head with Die Antwoord and has taken everyone by surprise.

One thing I can say about Waddy is that he is single-minded and does not compromise at all. This has made a few creative relationships turn sour but it is also the source of the very innovative and dynamic feel of his work.
It's also evident in Die Antwoord's dealings with the media and Big Business. They don't give a fvck, basically. That's how their show works, how they deal with the press and how they do business.
At first we were delighted to see a SA band get signed by a big record label. Then we were shocked that Waddy basically told them to go fvck themselves. Now we're impressed that Fatty Boom Boom is blowing up despite all of that.

Basically, they're one of SA's greatest successes despite the many obstacles and all without compromising their original vision.
This makes me very proud of them even if I don't think their music is all that great. I think it has novelty value and needs visual support. It's not music I would listen to more than once or twice... although Fatty boom Boom looks like it'll be a dancefloor filler.

Regarding the blackface, you can't really judge it from a North American perspective... and I'm sure Waddy's aware of that ... and I'm sure he's done it for that very reason. I think it looks awesome in a freaky way. And a little side-note: the yellow dress she's wearing is made from Chappie wrappers (Ubiquitous SA chewing gum) ... just one of the many details that makes the South African's experience of their work rather different to a foreigner's.

It's like we're all in on Waddy's Joke and it's a gas seeing the rest of the world trying to figure it out.
posted by 00dimitri00 at 7:01 AM on October 18, 2012 [76 favorites]


Die Antwood is some fookin genius lekka shit... though admittedly knowing a little bit about SA helps a lot. I'm not going to claim to be an expert but there's a lot of tropes, values and influences mashed up this... and I can't myself see black face as one of them.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:17 AM on October 18, 2012


Their spat with Lady Gaga is well-played. If they opened for her, they'd be seen as taken under Gaga's wing. She'd be doing them a favor, and it would be totally counter to their image. It's a Hustle and Flow situation: they have a lot more to gain by getting in a fight with the big star than by being taken on as some kind of apprentice. And Gaga comes off as a bully by bragging about how many tickets she sold in SA.
posted by echo target at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]




00dimitri00 thanks for the useful context and personal view. As a reward, I give you permission to type "fuck" all you fucking want. It's a power I have.

You're fucking welcome.
posted by howfar at 8:42 AM on October 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


WHOA.

I thought Fatty Boom Boom was that southern girl on television who does all those beauty pageants.

This was something else.
posted by 4ster at 4:15 PM on October 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


fuq, fortuneteller, from 2010: "Coming soon: Die Antwoord feat. Lady Gaga in: our music video will make you say what."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:43 PM on October 18, 2012


OK thanks to this post and two days of resultant pondering I've just spent waaaay longer than any sane person should watching Die Antwoord videos. Actually, thanks. I'm glad. When I first ran across them a couple years ago I was kind of horrified and bewildered and in that state of is this a joke I just don't get bemused. Now either they've gotten better or my ears have gotten different; either way, I think I genuinely like this rather a lot although jesus, fatty boom boom is perhaps the most pervasive earworm I've ever encountered. Also, not ever watching the prawn birth part again. No.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:34 PM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just a couple of observations to add.

When I first went to South AFrica, one of the first things my local colleague told me about, as a South African "thing" was the robots/traffic lights bit. The video bit reminded me of him saying it in almost the same way. He's Anglo, just fyi fwiw.

Incidentally Fatty Boom Boom is a song that was a hit on SA radio back in the 70s

The second is that I grew up listening to this song, in the link, that too in Malaysia, in the 70s. I just found out that its a proper song and not a schoolyard chant.
posted by infini at 4:10 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will come back and read this once my internet allows me to view video.
But I love Die Antwjoord - African/Anglo bi-racial person here. They do something I've never ever seen anyone else do, which is perform Whiteness as an ethnicity.

And in the I Fink U Freaky video the ethnicity of every single figure is presented as an ambiguity. Blackface, Whiteface, Mixed ethnicity, Albinism, body paint, body powder, dirt, stains....context...chicken feet and pigs heads. Oh and black-and-white rats. So, cool stuff.
posted by glasseyes at 6:19 PM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ironic racism is still racism.
posted by ShawnStruck at 2:08 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Incidentally Fatty Boom Boom is a song that was a hit on SA radio back in the 70s
I feel obliged to link to this great response record to the original Barbara Jones - Slim Boy
posted by Erberus at 4:20 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whenever I hear/see Die Antwoord, my initial reaction is always that I cannot fucking stand them. And then I inevitably spend a few days thinking about them obsessively with a weird mixture of irritation and admiration. The only way I can parse it is to think of them as the reincarnation of Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings, reborn in another century on the other side of the world.
posted by scody at 3:53 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


ShawnStruck wrote: Ironic racism is still racism.

Yes, and I didn't see any African-American performers at all. How can you make a video set in Africa without any African-Americans?
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:59 PM on October 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


ShawnStruck: “Ironic racism is still racism.”

Sidestepping Joe's snark – is there ironic racism in Die Antwoord's music? I used to think there was. Now I'm not sure.
posted by koeselitz at 5:48 PM on October 20, 2012


Sidestepping Joe's snark – is there ironic racism in Die Antwoord's music? I used to think there was. Now I'm not sure.

I would defer to people much more attuned to the nuances of South African culture, but my impression is that they are intensely attuned (and play with) extremely fine-grained articulations of how both race and class are portrayed in South African culture. I don't think there is so much "ironic racism" as there is deliberate manipulation of racial and class signifiers; this is informed performance art, not a minstrel show or a crude display of stereotypes.
posted by Forktine at 6:06 PM on October 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I note that Yolanda appears in white body paint in the video as well.

How can you tell?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:25 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Forktine: " Sidestepping Joe's snark – is there ironic racism in Die Antwoord's music? I used to think there was. Now I'm not sure.

I would defer to people much more attuned to the nuances of South African culture, but my impression is that they are intensely attuned (and play with) extremely fine-grained articulations of how both race and class are portrayed in South African culture. I don't think there is so much "ironic racism" as there is deliberate manipulation of racial and class signifiers; this is informed performance art, not a minstrel show or a crude display of stereotypes.
"

Blackface is a historical and well documented concept. The history of Blackface is a history of oppression. It is not question of borrowing something from some other culture, or being influenced by it, but abusing it for personal gain. A white rapper is trying to earn credibility points by using blackface-- and this is just 15 years after the fall of the apartheid regime.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:23 PM on October 20, 2012


I'm a little late to the party, but I can't help observing that, like many literary narratives, this video includes a brief allegory explaining how to read the whole thing--the allegory even explains that it's explanatory.

It's the urban safari sequence, which is full of irony yet unambiguously makes fun of the absurdly overblown expectations and imaginary fears and anxieties that privileged foreigners bring to bear in their interpretation of South Africa. The tour guide is entirely willing to put in front of fake Lady Gaga a mishmash of the ridiculous stereotypes she expects (the "Lion King," the dangerous "black beauty," the mix of poverty and danger, and the overly effusive and ingratiating "native guide" himself), and that's the point where we see Die Antwoord, including Yolandi in blackface, making themselves into exactly the same sort of mishmash of absurd stereotypes with unexpected details the foreign consumer will have come for. But the rest of the narrative suggests that in coming to South Africa, Lady Gaga and/or the music industry and/or the foreign consumer is actually going to discover stranger, more repulsive, and more uncomfortable truths than they wanted--but mostly about themselves.

And that's pretty much the story of the music video as a whole, encapsulated in its most legible portion. I don't understand how this needs more South African cultural/historical context, and whoever said it's not ironic simply doesn't know the meaning of the word.

Incidentally, I dislike Die Antwoord's music. I'm not really fond of their videos either, but at least they're a little unusual.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:35 AM on October 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


A white rapper is trying to earn credibility points by using blackface

I'm not sure that's what she's trying to do at all. For a start, whether this is unproblematically blackface at all is questionable, because it's at least partly a panther "costume". But more importantly, it seems to me to be a performance of a false exoticism as imagined by outsiders looking at South Africa, while referencing certain South African cultural touchstones (e.g. chewing gum wrapper dress). Look at this in the context of the video.

And intention and context matter, whether you like it or not. I am somewhat less uncomfortable with a blackface tenor performing Otelo that I would be with a blackface actor in the role of Othello. When the intent of the performance goes significantly beyond mere subcultural convention into a deliberate satire of Western othering and exoticisation of Africa, I'm more than prepared to acknowledge that not all forms of blackface are necessarily the same.

Die Antwoord are plainly trying to do more than "earn credibility points". Whether you think they succeed in this or not, and whether their performance is ultimately offensive, is worthy of discussion. Dismissing them out of hand isn't really worthy of anything.
posted by howfar at 4:07 AM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


A white rapper is trying to earn credibility points by using blackface-- and this is just 15 years after the fall of the apartheid regime.

She's black all over, and has yellow cat eyes - minutes after a panther is pointed out to us - and isn't using the make-up simulating large lips which is the hallmark of blackface. It shows you're clearly unfamiliar with this band and their motivations (especially by tossing in that "earn credibility points" remark), and are maybe just calling it "blackface" because the word is in the FPP, but this is pretty unhelpful in a discussion on this band, or even this video.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:39 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


A white rapper is trying to earn credibility points by using blackface-- and this is just 15 years after the fall of the apartheid regime.

As others have said, this isn't as simple as blackface. They use bodypaint and costumes with painted designs in almost all of their videos, and although she is painted jet black she is missing the standard blackface accoutrements like big red lips and so on. I'd agree that the costuming in that scene is among many other things referencing blackface (and particularly blackface in South Africa, which does not have a precisely identical history to blackface in the US), without being blackface.
posted by Forktine at 6:23 AM on October 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Video would make a great tourist film for "Anywhere BUT Africa".

I love how, a handful of words after you slap a music group for "proud ignorance," you say that a music video is reason to avoid going to all of the world's second-largest continent.
posted by entropone at 7:17 AM on October 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a black American, I'm not sure what the hell I just saw and heard, but I liked it.

The blackface? There was a black in KKK like garb on the drums. The group is clearly messing around with visual symbols.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 PM on October 21, 2012


ShawnStruck: “Blackface is a historical and well documented concept. The history of Blackface is a history of oppression. It is not question of borrowing something from some other culture, or being influenced by it, but abusing it for personal gain. A white rapper is trying to earn credibility points by using blackface-- and this is just 15 years after the fall of the apartheid regime.”

I was about to respond to this by pointing out that I don't think blackface is a South African thing. As far as I can tell, Die Antwoord is well aware that this is highly charged in the US, but as usual they don't appear to give a fuck beyond finding it amusing to troll us Americans. I'm sure they are aware of blackface being a thing here, since they reference Vanilla Ice in this song. I just was not sure whether this was really ironic racism at all. It seems more distant than that.

But lo and behold, after some googling, I discover that blackface is a thing in South Africa. Quoth Wikipedia:

“Inspired by blackface minstrels who visited Cape Town, South Africa in 1848, former Javanese and Malaysian slaves took up the minstrel tradition, holding emancipation celebrations which consisted of music, dancing and parades. Such celebrations eventually became consolidated into an annual, year-end event called the 'Coon Carnival' but now known as the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival or the Kaapse Klopse.

“Today, carnival minstrels are mostly Coloured ('mixed race'), Afrikaans-speaking revelers. Often in a pared-down style of blackface which exaggerates only the lips, they parade down the streets of the city in colorful costumes, in a celebration of Creole culture. Participants also pay homage to the carnival's African-American roots, playing Negro spirituals and jazz featuring traditional Dixieland jazz instruments, including horns, banjos, and tambourines.

“Some have denounced Blackface as an artefact of apartheid accusing broadcasters of lampooning off of disenfranchised African people who still do not control their images of self. Vodacom South Africa has been accused of using non-African actors in Blackface in its advertising as opposed to simply using African actors as principals. Others, mainly Whites, continue to see it as harmless fun.”


It's worth taking a look at that Kaapse Klopse link, too. This does seem very interesting, anyway. It's interesting that most of the people who still do blackface, as a traditional practice, are apparently people of mixed race; and it's also interesting that blackface seems to be similarly fraught in South Africa, although since I am clearly not South African it's hard for me to say to what extent.

Brandon Blatcher: “There was a black in KKK like garb on the drums. The group is clearly messing around with visual symbols.”

That was interesting. Actually, the first thing I thought of when I saw that was the Mardi Gras capuchons, which often look pretty much exactly like KKK hoods except brightly colored. Probably not related at all, and I'm pretty sure you're right; still, it's hard for me to know. Hoods have all kinds of different significances in different countries. I'm hesitant to think that anything in a Die Antwoord video is strictly intended as a reference to American tropes, although obviously some things are.
posted by koeselitz at 8:46 PM on October 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, what a weird thing – to find minstrel shows taken over by faraway countries and incorporated into traditional street festivals. Very, very weird.
posted by koeselitz at 8:49 PM on October 21, 2012


She's black all over, and has yellow cat eyes - minutes after a panther is pointed out to us - and isn't using the make-up simulating large lips which is the hallmark of blackface.

Not cat eyes, dollars signs. She has red lips, which are the hallmark of golliwogs. See the work of Anton Kannemeyer who uses golliwogs to make political art and cartoons about race in South Africa. The gynecologist scene is lifted directly from a painting of his called "Black Gynaecologist".
It makes sense to argue about the role of black face in depictions of racial politics, but lets not try to pretend that Yolandi is meant to be a panther and by some unhappy and unseen coincidence just happens to look like an historically offensive image of a black person. She's meant to be a highly charged and provocative image. Die Antwoord is a provocative band. They aren't naive.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:49 AM on October 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Would it be fair to say that it is a highly charged and provocative image that purposefully calls back to the panther seen earlier in the video? Especially considering the parallels between the tour driver describing the panther as a dangerous "black beauty" and Yolandi's hyper-aggressive lyrics, the resemblance can't be coincidental on either front.
posted by griphus at 12:06 PM on October 22, 2012


It's worth pointing out that Yolandi isn't the only one painted black in that video, incidentally. They all are.
posted by koeselitz at 12:07 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would it be fair to say that it is a highly charged and provocative image that purposefully calls back to the panther seen earlier in the video?

On review, I think it would be fair to say there's a lot of messaging going on here. I'm really not down with hand-waving this as "ironic blackface", whatever that's supposed to mean, but as I said upthread, they definitely do shine a spotlight on some uncomfortable truths about today's South Africa.

And as has also been mentioned, she is done in all white in other parts of the video, so there's that, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:12 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well as long as we're disseminating helpful information to Americans, how about some from SA culture mag Mahala?

WTF? That might have been the laziest, lamest work of cultural critique I've ever read in my life.

"I take my laptop around to Grassy Park and played some songs from www.dieantwoord.com for my grandmother. “Hoekom moet hy so die heel tyd vloek (Why does he have to swear all the time) ?” my grandmother wants to know. "


This is a bit like an American taking his Anal Cunt records around to granny's house and asking what she thinks of *their* work.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:24 AM on October 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




I went to their concert last night in Ybor.

It was an incredible experience - they are true performers.

Live, Fatty Boom Boom was really well done.

The potential of a second encore was interrupted by someone pulling the fire alarm.

I'd definitely see them again.
posted by tomierna at 8:59 PM on October 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not a huge fan of their vocals, so I'm kinda bummed that five minutes of googling hasn't turned up any good remixes — it's a killer beat, it deserves better.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]




"We don't even know what blackface is. Ninja painted my face black for the video as part of our visual idea to illustrate an inter dimensional bridge between the colour filled streets and the pitch black voodoo-room in the video.

"The pitch black Yo-landi in a street filled with colours around her immediately attracts your eye when jumping from the dark voodoo-room with Ninja and his backup dancers, who are also painted black. It's an African thing - they wouldn't understand it," Yo-landi explained.


So their own explanation is that the black skin paint is intended to create a visual bridge between the colorful street scene and the black-painted "voodoo room." This seems credible -- the makeup is n0t consistent enough with traditional blackface or golliwog imagery to be undeniably explicitly referencing it. For all their complicated visual aesthetic, I can believe the pair have a certain amount of ignorance as well -- there is a tradition of blackface minstrels in South Africa, but not nearly so entrenched or recent that they should just be expected to know about it.

And while Yo-landi says "this is an African thing," think this is more of a "this is an international thing," in the sense that they have started to develop an international audience, and may not have the artistic sophistication to know that symbols that seem innocuous within their group or country might have considerably more complex and troubling meanings when exported to other countries. But, without any evidence that Yo-landi is dissembling here, I think we can take her at her word that they didn't paint her black so that she would look like a racist caricature of a black person.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:42 PM on November 14, 2012


"We don't even know what blackface is.

This is credible. Most people wouldn't make a fuss if it wasn't a big deal in America.

Ninja painted my face black for the video as part of our visual idea to illustrate an inter dimensional bridge between the colour filled streets and the pitch black voodoo-room in the video.

Their quotes make about as much sense as their songs... which is very little.
posted by Mezentian at 6:54 PM on November 14, 2012


Question: Why should I take this "making of" video seriously, given their penchant for messing with their audience? And why does Yo-Landi keep referring to "Africa" rather than to South Africa? (Or maybe that's something that's lost in translation on my end--?)

(Also, thanks for posting that, urbanwhaleshark.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:59 PM on November 15, 2012


I feel like they have been forthright with their audiences when something they have done is potentially troubling or confusing -- when their song Fok Julle Naaiers was accused of homophobia, they explained that the use of the word "faggot" in the song referenced something DK Hi-Tek (who is gay, and who rapped the lyrics) was called, and not language that they would use against gay people. Perhaps they are just messing with their audiences, but they seem a lot more complicated to me. Not that they are incapable of a misstep -- they rely pretty heavily on gendered epithets that I can't say I particularly enjoy. But when they say they weren't doing blackface, I am inclined to believe them.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:35 PM on November 15, 2012


How do they get their eyes all black like that? Can they see through it?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:49 PM on November 15, 2012


Joe in Australia - black out contacts. here are some more special fx contacts.
posted by nadawi at 9:59 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


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