Kanye West appropriates Confederate flag design
November 5, 2013 6:05 PM   Subscribe

"In making the Confederate flag the icon behind his new tour, Kanye West is changing the meaning of a racist icon." He'll be using the flag on Yeezus tour merchandise, and he wore a bomber jacket with a large Confederate flag patch on the arm during a recent trip to Barney's, ostensibly as a statement about the Barney's profiling scandal.
posted by ChuckRamone (182 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. THAT'S interesting.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:08 PM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, I wish him luck, but I suspect the racists have a lock on this one.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:12 PM on November 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


West also divulged during the interview that he had turned to Tyler the Creator for help on his Yeezus tour merchandise. "He's so talented and understands things," said West about his 22-year-old rapper-producer protege.

yuck.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:13 PM on November 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


*kicks back, grabs popcorn, gets ready to watch impending shitstorm*

Well, I give him credit for ah, trying something different at least. Time will tell if that actually works or not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:16 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


wow. Very interesting.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 6:16 PM on November 5, 2013


I think it just might work. The meaning of the flag has changed substantially over the years, from a symbol of the Confederacy ib the 1800s, revived for the Jim Crow south in the 30s, and is now basically a vanilla symbol of generalized Southern pride for a lot of people. One more shift is easily possible if it gets a little momentum.
posted by miyabo at 6:16 PM on November 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Up until this point I think I have felt absolutely neutral about Kanye West but this ... this is interesting. I can't articulate why I think this is both good and important, but it must be. If there's anyone strange and sincere (or strangely sincere) enough to have a go at this it's him.

Part of my feelings on this probably stem from having grown up in Tennessee and heard with regards to the flag "it's about pride, not prejudice" more times than I can count, and also seen those for whom no, it's still clearly about prejudice. It'd be great to see it dismantled and turned inside out and leaving people guessing. If he can strip it of its power, even in part, I'd like to see it.
posted by komara at 6:17 PM on November 5, 2013 [58 favorites]


West also divulged during the interview that he had turned to Tyler the Creator for help on his Yeezus tour merchandise.
I heard that Tyler Comma got left off of Yeezus because he clogged Rick Rubin's toilet.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:18 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It feels a little like a first sighting of a new repurposing, which is usually something I just hear about as having happened.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? at 6:18 PM on November 5, 2013


Up until this point I think I have felt absolutely neutral about Kanye West but

oh shap I forgot that Can't Tell Me Nothing (and the choice to utilize Zach) was his. I definitely have strong positive feelings about that.

Okay aside from that I have felt neutral about Kayne.
posted by komara at 6:21 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


My immediate reaction to this is "Hell yeah!" I like to see symbols/words associated with oppression get reclaimed and changed.
posted by aka burlap at 6:21 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


now basically a vanilla symbol of generalized Southern pride for a lot of people.

As someone born, raised and still living in Alabama, I don't buy that for a second. It absolutely represents Lost Cause nonsense and anyone selling that 'pride not prejudice' line is disingenuous at best.
posted by ndfine at 6:22 PM on November 5, 2013 [52 favorites]


I assume he'll co-opt the swastika flag for his next tour, thus removing the negative power of that as well.

Thanks for cleaning up, Kanye!
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:22 PM on November 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


I hope he claims the Hitler moustache next, for Movember and all that.
posted by Fig at 6:23 PM on November 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Couple months ago Tyler did it with sambo imagery. But we should note he Isn't the first. MF Doom, pictured above with Tyler, then known as Zev Love X, did it in 2001.

Rapper Gunplay already has a swastika tattoo
posted by Ad hominem at 6:23 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kanye West is just a couple years from jumping up and down on a couch on a nationwide talk show.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:24 PM on November 5, 2013 [23 favorites]


This almost makes me want to side with the racists. I don't think Kanye has the star power to pull this off. Good luck, I guess.
posted by gjc at 6:24 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kanye West is changing the meaning of a racist icon.

I would be surprised.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:25 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's an Alpha Industries jacket.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:25 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I seem to remember a trendy clothing company in the '90s tried to rebrand the Confederate flag for their logo. They kept the basic design, but used different colors, like black and green and yellow. Google is not helping. Am I just imagining things?
posted by mcmile at 6:26 PM on November 5, 2013


Not that it isn't a potentially powerful gesture, but it's been done before.
posted by headnsouth at 6:26 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah sure, wrap yourself in the flag, Kanye. We're all impressed.
posted by borges at 6:27 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I assume he'll co-opt the swastika flag for his next tour, thus removing the negative power of that as well.

"Maybe they're going to find Forrester... in Poland."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:28 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sweet move! Will be a pleasure to watch all those bigots madly scraping the confederate flag decals off their pickups when they come to realize it is now the "black power" symbol.

The only thing I remember like it is when Willie Nelson started wearing long hair. Next thing you know all the rednecks had long hair and beards after hating on the hippies for all those years.
posted by jcworth at 6:28 PM on November 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Growing up here in the South, I saw a consistent pattern, that anything pop culture did, had about a five year lag time before it hit the redneck kids, at which point it would gain a strange longevity. I mean, I still see guys with caesar-cuts, and that's just sad. So what is going to happen with this redneck symbol getting appropriated by a black superstar, when it diffuses out to the white suburban kids, and then much later to the redneck kids? Will the kid with a confederate flag on his sleeve see it as different than the sticker his dad has peeling on the bumper of his truck? Will there be two separate flags, seemingly identical except for the subtext?

I am intrigued and look forward to the cognitive dissonance.
posted by mittens at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


Didn't stop them hating on hippies, though. I have a feeling this will make about as much difference.
posted by rtha at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2013


Ad hominem: Couple months ago Tyler did it with sambo imagery. But we should note he Isn't the first. MF Doom, pictured about with Tyler, then known as Zev Love X, did it in 2001.

Just to clarify (as this comment gave me a brief moment of thinking everything I knew was wrong), it was DOOM who was known as Zev Love X, not Tyler. The link was broken - were you thinking of Black Bastards?
posted by curious.jp at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a huge swath of well-meaning, non-racist southern folks who have grown up around that flag, and for them it has all the social gravitas of the Duck Dynasty logo. It's just something that's been on their clothes and on their dad's truck since they were born, and they identify with it. They don't understand why, but they do. My fear is that those people are going to react very negatively to this ("someone is stealing this image that we love for reasons that we don't understand"), and the stupid is going to start flying in great volume, and things will be worse because of it.

If Kanye can just throw it on a shirt and say "it's my logo now," thereby stripping it of all of its racist history, who's to say that Lynyrd Skynyrd didn't do that decades ago? I mean, Kanye is of course free to do what he wants the same as all of the rest of us are. But part of it feels like shit-stirring without an understanding of the kind of people that it's going to flummox. It's mean-spirited but directed toward the wrong people.
posted by jbickers at 6:30 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The link was broken - were you thinking of Black Bastards?

Right, I swear I fixed the link on edit
posted by Ad hominem at 6:31 PM on November 5, 2013


The actual designer of the confederate flag came to regret his act bitterly, and might well approve of what Kanye is doing.
posted by ocschwar at 6:31 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Andre 3000 had a confederate flag belt buckle in the video for the Outkast song "Ms. Jackson" in 2001 or thereabouts. I seem to remember him deciding it wasn't the greatest idea, but I may be misremembering.
posted by mikeh at 6:33 PM on November 5, 2013


As if redneck cops need another reason to fuck with young black males.
posted by Optamystic at 6:33 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's mean-spirited but directed toward the wrong people.

I don't think it'll hurt any of these hypothetical well-meaning, non-racist southern folk to be forced to examine the complexities of this symbol that has surrounded them their entire lives.
posted by komara at 6:34 PM on November 5, 2013 [36 favorites]


I don't think it'll hurt any of these hypothetical well-meaning, non-racist southern folk to be forced to examine the complexities of this symbol that has surrounded them their entire lives.

Two things:

1. You are assuming they will do that, and not just reflexively be offended by the rich black man. Have you made it a point to understand the nuances of all of the symbols that have surrounded your life?
2. "Hypothetical well-meaning, non-racist southern folk" is a horribly racist thing to say.
posted by jbickers at 6:41 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would believe the Confederate Flag is just a symbol of Southern Pride if I didn't see it everywhere at county fairs in New Hampshire.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:42 PM on November 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


On October 21, Pitchfork had the full list of tour merch: Kanye's Yeezus Tour Merch Features Confederate Flags, Native American Headdresses
posted by Going To Maine at 6:45 PM on November 5, 2013


I would believe the Confederate Flag is just a symbol of Southern Pride if I didn't see it everywhere at county fairs in New Hampshire.


Or a tea party rally on the Boston Common.
posted by ocschwar at 6:45 PM on November 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Right, because nobody ever wears "Keep Calm and Carry On" shirts anywhere outside of the U.K. Right.

(Sorry, this is more than I usually engage but I'm a lifelong Kentuckian and a progressive and very, very tired of the entire south being painted with the brush of racist because SOUTHERN.)
posted by jbickers at 6:45 PM on November 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't actually think it's about racism, necessarily. I think in New Hampshire it mostly has to do with being anti-federal-government. I'm just saying that it's not JUST about southern pride.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


So the dumb-ass redneck down the street from me who flies a huge rebel flag from his pickup truck is actually engaging in a show of solidarity with African-Americans? To think that I've been thinking all of these horrible thoughts about him! I didn't realize that he was just being ironic when he stands drinking a beer bare-chested in his front yard, showing off his tattoo of the rebel flag, in case you missed the one on the truck.

It's so obvious now! The PBR should have been a dead giveaway.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2013


Right, because nobody ever wears "Keep Calm and Carry On" shirts anywhere outside of the U.K. Right.


Appalachian Scotch Irish types can claim the star spangled cross of St. Andrew for obvious reasons, even in areas that did not secede.

When embittered political blowhards sport it in New England, however, it fails to be plausible as a celebration of anything.
posted by ocschwar at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kanye has also been using KKK imagery and images of snarling dogs, which I sort of associate with images of the Birmingham campaign.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:48 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


very, very tired of the entire south being painted with the brush of racist because SOUTHERN

Being Southern is not the same as wearing a traitor's flag. This is not a case of LOLsoutherners.
posted by ndfine at 6:49 PM on November 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


You are assuming they will do that, and not just reflexively be offended by the rich black man.

So that makes him mean-spirited? What, they get a free pass to get mad when a symbol is appropriated but he doesn't have your permission to appropriate it in the first place because it might hurt their feelings or make them question something?

Have you made it a point to understand the nuances of all of the symbols that have surrounded your life?

Workin' on it every day!

"Hypothetical well-meaning, non-racist southern folk" is a horribly racist thing to say.

As I mentioned upthread, I grew up in Tennessee. I am an existing non-hypothetical non-racist southern folk. I know those people exist, I grew up with some of them. I grew up with a whole lot more that are the people you're describing - everything draped in the flag and not a second thought about what it means.

We've had this discussion before in great detail about "Do I have the right to do [x] if it's horribly offensive to someone else?" and I'm not going to have it again here. Whether or not they have the right to fly the Confederate flag is one thing, but it is an offensive symbol for many, and I'm happy to see someone dismantling and repurposing it.

If they can fly the flag and offend people then he can do what he wants with it as well. Fair play, and you don't get to grouse about it.
posted by komara at 6:49 PM on November 5, 2013 [36 favorites]


I'm very excited about the tremendous impact Kanye West is going to have on long-term trends in American culture because I agree that he's just as fucking amazing as he thinks he is. Oh, and "Kardashian."
posted by Max Udargo at 6:53 PM on November 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Conflicted about the Confederate flag tour merch. In theory it's a reappropriation of a hurtful symbol. In practice, millions of suburban white kids are going to be wearing Confederate Flags around now, with no context or intent for their display other than "it looks cool" and feels rebellious in the same way an Odd Future shirt feels rebellious or an Obey Giant shirt feels rebellious. It's going to be hurtful to older black folk who don't understand, and don't particularly want to be reminded of the awful history that symbol dredges up. And it's a tossup whether it'll change anyone's opinions of the flag, or just make the flag more common and acceptable for everyone to wear.
posted by naju at 6:54 PM on November 5, 2013 [32 favorites]


Bo and Luke done been there. [Bonus: the most awkward euphemism for an ass kicking I've ever read or heard]

"In the film, the Confederate flag on the roof is made an object of conflict on two occasions. In the first occasion, the Dukes are stuck in an Atlanta traffic jam. During this time passing drivers make remarks towards them that alternate between cheering the South and condemning them as practicing racism, leaving the Duke boys puzzled; the last to comment says, "Nice roof, redneck! ... Join the rest of us in the twenty-first century?!" and displays obscene hand gestures. Mystified, Bo and Luke slide out of the windows so they could sit on the windowsill to look at the roof and discover the flag. In the second incident, the Dukes wind up with coal dust on their faces, giving them the appearance of driving around in blackface; they stop at a traffic light and some African American youths notice this and the Confederate flag on the General. The youths come to the conclusion that the Dukes are making a racist statement and are about to give them a physical opinion of their roof graphic and facial appearance. Just as the youths were about to assault Bo and Luke, two black police officers show up and throw the Dukes in jail."
posted by vapidave at 6:56 PM on November 5, 2013


I assume he'll co-opt the swastika flag for his next tour, thus removing the negative power of that as well.

Anything's possible. Some people think hammers and sickles are cute.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:57 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and "Kardashian."

?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:00 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Conflicted about the Confederate flag tour merch. In theory it's a reappropriation of a hurtful symbol. In practice, millions of suburban white kids are going to be wearing Confederate Flags around now, with no context or intent for their display other than "it looks cool"

I used to have a Lynyrd Skynyrd teeshirt, a true vintage one, not a repro. I never thought much about it until I saw myself in a picture wearing it and realized it had a confederate flag on it, at which point it went in the ragbag because, Sweet Home Alabama lyrics notwithstanding, it didn't feel okay.

I feel sort of more okay about a black guy reappropriating it, but not enough that I'd wear any of the tour swag (and I love Kanye). But something about the idea of it resonates. It feels kind of punk rock, in a 1977 Siouxsie-wearing-a-swastika sense.
posted by padraigin at 7:00 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


My GF was a Georgia Satellites fan. So, been here, done this. Still have that t-shirt somewhere….
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:01 PM on November 5, 2013


It's where "white trash" and "ghetto thug" find common ground. Beyond the prejudice lies a surprisingly common view of the world between all economically challenged groups. Think about "nerds" and "acting white" both black and white lower income groups have a mistrust of elitism, and a similar way of swagger that says "I've little enough to be able to not give a fuck". Yeah, racism exists, and I think Kanye is putting a big stick in the eye of America, saying in effect, let's acknowledge racism, begin the discussion and start The process of moving past it.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:06 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think it'll hurt any of these hypothetical well-meaning, non-racist southern folk to be forced to examine the complexities of this symbol that has surrounded them their entire lives.

It's a win win for Kanye, because he can force people to think about things, AND make a shitload of money off the merchandising at the same time. Unless he's donating all his proceeds to the SPLC, he is just trying to cash in on something that he didn't create.
posted by gjc at 7:07 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


All I see this doing is giving ammo to the racists to claim they're not racist.

See also: Chris Rock and the N-word.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:09 PM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


i know everyone is focused on the flag and the headdress (for good reasons) but i'm interested in what's going on with the skulls and the metallica-esque logo in the lower right of this picture - i would totally wear those. i do love a lot about the aesthetic of the yeesus merch.

he is just trying to cash in on something that he didn't create.

lol whut.
posted by nadawi at 7:10 PM on November 5, 2013


Honestly, I fear this will be taken by Confederate-flag-flyers as permission to keep it up.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


AND make a shitload of money off the merchandising at the same time

Well... Once the tour actually gets on the road again, that is. They only did one show before an accident damaged some hard to replace tour gear.
posted by sparkletone at 7:11 PM on November 5, 2013


There's a huge swath of well-meaning, non-racist southern folks who have grown up around that flag, and for them it has all the social gravitas of the Duck Dynasty logo.

I always hear this, and even after a lifetime of living in the southern US I have yet to meet one.

IT IS A MYSTERY.
posted by winna at 7:12 PM on November 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Honestly, I fear this will be taken by Confederate-flag-flyers as permission to keep it up.

Serious question: do Confederate-flag-flyers pay attention to Kanye West?
posted by Going To Maine at 7:12 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would believe the Confederate Flag is just a symbol of Southern Pride if I didn't see it everywhere at county fairs in New Hampshire.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and there were redneck types with big trucks who listened to country music and had Confederate flag stuff. I always thought that was strange. It's like they wanted so badly to be Southerners or something ... I'm not sure what they were going for exactly.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2013


A hilarious stunt, but I can hear the rednecks already "Well, if Kanye can fly the Confederate flag, why can't I?"

PS. Take care in SC. They're liable to run you up the flagpole.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2013


I seem to remember a trendy clothing company in the '90s tried to rebrand the Confederate flag for their logo.

Nusouth. Doesn't appear to have worked out.
posted by 23 at 7:13 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


If they can fly the flag and offend people then he can do what he wants with it as well.

Totally agree with you there. In fact, in my first comment in this thread, I specifically said that "Kanye is of course free to do what he wants the same as all of the rest of us are." But he does something far larger than just "fly the flag." He specifically says, in the linked article, "It's my flag. Now what are you going to do?" That's a specific instigation that has zero chance of improving race relations and understanding. It's only going to get peoples' backs up and lower whatever stupidly low level of discourse there is.
posted by jbickers at 7:14 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Serious question: do Confederate-flag-flyers pay attention to Kanye West?

Probably not, but I bet they'll notice the black kids in the rebel flag Kanye t-shirts.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:14 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm waiting for Kanye or another black artist to get really obscure with this stuff - maybe visit the Stormfront site and start co-opting some of the logos from those groups.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:15 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


he already did n---as in paris which people said the same thing about, that he's just giving ammo to racists. but he's going to keep on agitating and bringing it up and getting people to talk about what it means when a black man from chicago covers his tour merch in the flag and the headdresses and repurposes 70s/80s heavy metal motifs - and how they are also entwined with religion.

and coming from the south, i've known black kids since at least the 90s who would wear the confederate flag much like kanye is doing here - it always seemed like a dare to the racists - i dare you to come up to me and tell me what this flag means to you. i dare you try to make buddy buddy with me over it. i dare you to take offense. i dare you to react in any way.
posted by nadawi at 7:16 PM on November 5, 2013 [32 favorites]


Finally, I can sell my iPad 2 with the full back laser-engraved Confederate flag.
posted by planetesimal at 7:17 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think anything that takes power away from the racists is a positive. Whether this has an impact remains to be seen, but at the very least, it has people talking about racism.
posted by arcticseal at 7:18 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a specific instigation that has zero chance of improving race relations and understanding. It's only going to get peoples' backs up and lower whatever stupidly low level of discourse there is.

That's where you and I disagree. I feel about this like I feel about Tea Party nutjobs getting their chosen ones into elected office and then having to deal with the fallout. If Kanye's actions get a bunch of racist flag-wavers riled up then I say, "Great." The more they have to explain out loud why they're mad the more chance someone will hear it and realize what idiocy is being spouted.

It's the sentiment that Louis CK expressed here:
"If someone makes a racist/sexist joke, say, with total seriousness, “I don’t get it, can you explain it” Then watch them crash & burn."

I look forward to having someone try to explain to me with a straight face why they're mad about a rich black man taking their hate symbol away, and I hope that someone within earshot hears it and says, "God, that's dumb, and that person is a racist."
posted by komara at 7:19 PM on November 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'm getting a 404 Error on that first link.
posted by crossoverman at 7:23 PM on November 5, 2013


Weird, it was up a few minutes ago, but yeah, getting a 404 here too.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:28 PM on November 5, 2013


Yes, because the backs of racists aren't already up, oh wait.

I think this is brilliant, even if it fizzles. Right now the flag still holds power. It belongs to white racists who want to show that they mourn the loss of slavery and the culture that depended on it. It belongs to KKK types. It makes people fear you, because you might be a skinhead who will be crazy and fuck them up.

And now a black artist, a rich, successful, smart black guy, is stealing it. Wiping his ass with it, making it trivial and trendy (and eventually, passe) and sucking the juice out of it. It's like stealing your enemy's sacred totems and using them as doorstops.

Of course hardcore racists will be angry, they already hate Kanye. But white people who aren't hardcore racists will just roll their eyes. They are not going to risk looking racist by freaking out over a symbol they don't really care about.
posted by emjaybee at 7:28 PM on November 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


Serious question: do Confederate-flag-flyers pay attention to Kanye West?

I bet they will if it means they can claim they're not racist because Kanye.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:28 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, while he's at it, he should dress up as Robert E Lee.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:29 PM on November 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


[I'm getting 404 on the first link too, tho I'm inclined to leave this up for a bit and see if it recovers, since the other links are live and the rest of the FastCo site seems ok. If OP wants me to substitute another link, drop me a note to the contact form.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:30 PM on November 5, 2013


NOW watch all the self-identified "colorblind" white people, the kind who think Elvis invented rock n' roll, finally grasp the meaning of the term "cultural appropriation."

Whether "more" white kids wear the Confederate flag is not the point. They do it anyway AND this is not about them. For once, it's not about white people. That's the brilliance of it.
posted by gentian at 7:31 PM on November 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


"This gives ammo to the racists!" is a pretty strange way to look at this.

Is the lack of ammo a thing that is somehow constraining the activities of racists? Has anybody ever seen a racist stop being racist for a lack of ammo?

Just askin'
posted by chrchr at 7:32 PM on November 5, 2013 [23 favorites]


the racists say that they can use the n word as an insult because black people use it. who cares what racists say to justify their bullshit? the important part is that not racist people keep saying bullshit and moving forward with or without them.
posted by nadawi at 7:33 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe Kayne should fly the state flag of South Carolina.
posted by ovvl at 7:38 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Swapped the link for one that works, thanks ChuckRamone.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:45 PM on November 5, 2013


It is strange that the flag- originally a symbol of aristocratic slavers and traitors- became a symbol of lower-class white rebellion, even among a group of people who would see themselves as patriots. If it becomes a symbol of African-American culture, taking back this odious symbol and appropriating it, that doesn't any further from current usage than current usage is from the original scumbags who flew it- it's just another inversion, along a different axis.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:46 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's the sentiment that Louis CK expressed here:
"If someone makes a racist/sexist joke, say, with total seriousness, “I don’t get it, can you explain it” Then watch them crash & burn."


Just a heads up: that's not Louis CK's twitter account, and he never said that. It's a "parody" account where some dude can tweet stuff and benefit from people thinking he's actually Louis CK while not actually parodying anything. That's not to say the tweet itself is bad, it's still a funny idea.
posted by mokin at 7:49 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah and in 2 years he'll start the "noose necklace" trend, and after that, iron neck collars! That'll show everyone.
posted by ReeMonster at 7:51 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


making it trivial and trendy (and eventually, passe)

Damn, from this perspective it now seems brilliant. Capitalism and marketing have succeeded at co-opting the imagery of thriving subcultures, defanging them and removing all of their vibrancy and power. This is usually rightfully decried, but what happens now when it goes to work on a racist subculture?
posted by naju at 7:51 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kanye West and Virgil Abloh have constructed an act of Détournement that aims to expose inherent contradictions within American culture.

Žižek has said that a system secretly contains it's own transgression within it's boundaries of operations. Racists and sexists may be publicly pilloried, but privately they may get ahead within a system by transgressing against the stated ideals of the system. Members of exclusionary clubs and old boys networks etc. The challenge becomes exposing the contradictions between the stated working of the system and the secret workings of the system.

Let's say we are confederate flag wearers.

If we do not wear the confederate flag as a symbol of transgression, we happily cede the symbol to Kanye West, who, in the words of the SI, "negates the value of the the previous organization of expression" and the original becomes forgotten and meaningless.

If we object, we have no choice but to expose the lie that the confederate flag is not a racist signifier.

Kanye is clearly the greatest theorist since Guy Debord.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:53 PM on November 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


that's not Louis CK's twitter account, and he never said that.

Right then, thanks for letting me know! I hate that people do that kind of thing, but what you gonna do?
posted by komara at 7:54 PM on November 5, 2013




Kanye is clearly the greatest theorist since Guy Debord.

Given the collaboration with Tyler The Creator, it might be better to say that Tyler is the greatest theorist since Debord...
posted by Going To Maine at 7:55 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kanye is reading books. I like that.

From the Publishers Weekly review

As he has in previous works, [Percival] Everett strives to demythologize the American South. In one of the strongest stories, "The Appropriation of Cultures," a young, Ivy league–educated black guitarist living in South Carolina buys a pick-up truck with a Confederate flag sticker on it. As he drives the truck around town, he's threatened by hostile white Southerners, but manages to start a revolution of sorts as an increasing number of black Southerners co-opt the flag and fly it as their own. Clever and thought— provoking, this is a memorable collection.

Print version of story

Selected Shorts audio
posted by GrapeApiary at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hmmm. Leo Twiggs may think that Kayne is a little late to the party.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2013


> Given the collaboration with Tyler The Creator, it might be better to say that Tyler is the greatest theorist since Debord...

More practitioner than theorist. He's making the things for others to analyze.
posted by ardgedee at 7:56 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reverse Détournement?
On Preview: Ad Hominem nails it.
posted by Freen at 7:58 PM on November 5, 2013


i've known black kids since at least the 90s who would wear the confederate flag much like kanye is doing here - it always seemed like a dare to the racists - i dare you to come up to me and tell me what this flag means to you. i dare you try to make buddy buddy with me over it. i dare you to take offense. i dare you to react in any way.

I had a friend who was into that for a while. That was also during a period when a bunch of my friends were into "taking back" slurs, so they would use slurs that applied to themselves all the time. I think it's a good tactic in theory and I hope that Kanye will be able to pull it off...but in practice it means being constantly surrounded by these hateful symbols and slurs, even more than usual, even among friends. Personally, I hated being around that, to the point of cutting ties to people over it, and no way could I get myself to participate...just like I'm not going to be buying stars and bars memorabilia now. I don't want it in my house or on my person. I get that maybe that's shortsighted, and I know other people feel differently, but personally, I just can't.

It's going to be hurtful to older black folk who don't understand, and don't particularly want to be reminded of the awful history that symbol dredges up.

Those symbols are hurtful to people, whether they understand what Kanye West is trying to do or not. I think the idea is "no pain no gain" and that the hurtfulness of it will sort of wear off and the symbol will lose its power. Can anybody think of an example where that actually happened?
posted by rue72 at 7:59 PM on November 5, 2013


IT'S TIME FOR SOME STORIES

I grew up in the town of Shepherdsville, KY. When I was in middle school, we got our first stop light. It was a big deal. (I think they now have four or five.) I lived in a neighborhood filled with people who could act as stereotypical stand-ins for the people we are vaguely describing in this thread - southern, white, lots of pick-up trucks, working-class jobs, and yes, confederate flags on a shit-load of bumper stickers and t-shirts.

I was lost in the crowd there. My older brother was a big reader, and as a result there were lots of very interesting books in our house (I'm pretty sure we had the only complete Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser or LoTR series in all of Shepherdsville) and I never quite fit in. But I was around southern culture all the time, even though I never really felt a part of it.

Here's the thing, and I'm speaking entirely anecdotally, even though it is 20-odd years of anecdotes with dozens of families and hundreds of people: Most of the people I knew back then couldn't tell you who won the civil war, barely understood what slavery was, and to a one they had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA that the flag on their shirt or dad's truck was anything other than that totally bad-ass logo.

My point: Don't be so quick to talk about "racist people" when you should instead be talking about "ignorant people" or people that do not have the benefit of context and education that you and I have. The kids that lived across the street from me, where I played basketball every afternoon, it's not their fault that the home they grew up in placed zero emphasis on homework and learning, and as a result, they had absolutely no understanding of history. They have absolutely no idea that it's a "symbol of aristocratic slavers and traitors." To them, it's just a bad-ass X with stars in it.

tl;dr Not all people who like the confederate flag are racist; many of them are simply undereducated, and you don't make things better when you point at them and scream "RACIST SCUM!" And the only reason I entered this thread is because I fear that's what Kanye's stunt might be doing.
posted by jbickers at 8:02 PM on November 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


Kanye is a mad genius. By putting a flag on a t-shirt, he managed to do what that Brad Paisley LL Cool J collaboration set out to do (and failed catastrophically). That's some art shit right there.

Also, when this came up on The Soup, Joel was like "Kanye West has announced he's reclaiming the confederate flag as his own, continuing Kanye's practice of taking something everyone hates, and making it his." and then they show a picture of him and Kim Kardashian, which was pretty funny, I'll admit.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:03 PM on November 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


This almost makes me want to side with the racists.

Wait, WHAT?
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:05 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kanye is a mad genius. By putting a flag on a t-shirt, he managed to do what that Brad Paisley LL Cool J collaboration set out to do (and failed catastrophically). That's some art shit right there.

Actually, this is the opposite. Kanye is trying to make people mad. Brad Paisley was trying to make everybody calm down & be cool. Indeed, the whole point of the song is that Brad Paisley is going to be copacetic in his Stars 'n Bars, and LL Cool J is going to be copacetic in his do-rag.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:07 PM on November 5, 2013


NOW watch all the self-identified "colorblind" white people, the kind who think Elvis invented rock n' roll, finally grasp the meaning of the term "cultural appropriation."

I don't think your standard white racist is really into the cultural appropriation game.

Regardless, it's wrong no matter who does it.

This almost makes me want to side with the racists.

Wait, WHAT?


That means that West's antics are so pathological and objectionable (to me) that I almost want to side with the people whose culture (ignorant and awful that it is) is being appropriated so Kanye West can promote his brand and make some cash.
posted by gjc at 8:10 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


To quote Kanye from the article:

"React how you want. Like I said, any energy you got is good energy. You know, the Confederate flag represented slavery, in a way––that’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now! Now what are you gonna do?"

As a whole quote, this makes no sense to me. The song posits that Kanye is a slave, and the Confederate Flag is very much not an emblem touted by slaves. If someone can clear this up, that'd be dandy, but I'm also comfortable assuming that Kanye still doesn't express himself coherently in interviews.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:13 PM on November 5, 2013


Regardless, it's wrong no matter who does it.

Or maybe it's right whoever does it? Bam! Besides, Kanye is at least being fairly clear about who he's appropriating from.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:15 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If West can get people to think about why and how they value the confederate flag, and why West might be repurposing it, then that is a good thing.

Which is to say, the discomfort and weirdness being felt by some is sort of the whole point.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:16 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually I think this particular move is genius on Kanye's part.


I mean, I am related to someone who wouldn't have a Wheaties box on his breakfast table when Tiger Woods was on it. Can you imagine the consternation when people of hate realize their symbol is being turned on its ear?

For once I applaud Mr. West. Maybe he isn't as crazy as I thought he was. (Saying maybe because, Kardashian, but whatever.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:21 PM on November 5, 2013 [7 favorites]




It feels kind of punk rock, in a 1977 Siouxsie-wearing-a-swastika sense.

I'm also in the "Kanye is possibly a total genius for doing this" camp, but I'm not sure the use of the swastika in the punk scene is quite the right analogy. That was a tactic that doesn't seem to have been done in the spirit of anti-racist reappropriation, but more simply as a "fuck you" gesture at their parents' generation. It was also denounced by the Clash (and others in the scene), in part because Mick Jones is Jewish but more broadly to take a stand against the rise of the National Front at the time. (If memory serves, the Clash refused to share a stage with the Sex Pistols after Sid joined for this reason.)
posted by scody at 8:27 PM on November 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is some cultural appropriation I can applaud!

Seeing Kanye on his way to Barney's with the stars and bars on his arm halted my brain for a moment. Picture worth a thousand words and all....because that's Kanye's point, taking it back.
posted by Pocahontas at 8:36 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like it, but I'm going to wait a few years to see how this plays out.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:55 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This appropriation strategy doesn't seem to rely on the reaction of racists to work. People who display this flag as a symbol of hostility or racism do not have to acknowledge Kanye, or the discourse around his actions, or change their flag-waving behavior, or think, or anything in response. Kanye's appropriation seems intended to reduce the hostile power of the symbol independently of the response of those who use the flag in a traditional way.

"React how you want. Like I said, any energy you got is good energy. You know, the Confederate flag represented slavery, in a way––that’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now! Now what are you gonna do?"

Kanye is not interested in negotiating the symbol - he's letting us know what he's decided to do with it, and letting us know that our reactions do not dictate his choice here, although he acknowledges that there will be reactions. It's powerful.
posted by ProtoStar at 8:59 PM on November 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


A few Caribanas ago I saw a black dude driving a replica of the General Lee down Queen St. East and it was pretty much the most awesome thing ever.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:00 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


IndigoJones: "I assume he'll co-opt the swastika flag for his next tour, thus removing the negative power of that as well.

Anything's possible. Some people think hammers and sickles are cute.
"

You rang?
posted by symbioid at 9:05 PM on November 5, 2013


Saxon Kane: "It should be red, with a big X on it. It'll have red and x's, and no one will mess with the Red n' X's! "

Ha ha, I was actually thinking of this movie when I read the comment above about "the designer of the flag" regretting it but couldn't remember what clip it was exactly. WOOT!

That said - I think it's great Kanye is doing it, and only fucking Kanya could pull this off. I'm not so enamored of him as a lot of people are (and most assuredly not as much as he is), but I think he has some interesting mix of things... I judge him for being too pop/mainstream while knowing he could have been more indie... But, if he were indie, he would never have the power to make a statement like this.

So kudos. I'm curious how it plays out. I do think the concern about this for the older generation of black folk who had to live through this shit, is something we should ponder, but at the same time, fuck the redneck racist assholes, and if that's what it takes to delegitimize it, I say go for it.
posted by symbioid at 9:11 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


As someone that appreciates the confederate flag, and those that proudly display it, I'm against this move.

By 'appreciate', I mean that I appreciate it when someone gives a loud and clear signal of their character... The confederate flag is a symbol of identification with a group, a way of saying 'I'm one of these people', it's a way to loudly declare to the world 'I'm a racist'. Without this symbol it will take more time and energy to easily spot the racists and bigots.

I'm sure that stormfront or other racists web sites have more coded, subtle ways to tell people they are racists, but the confederate flag is easy to spot and interpret.
posted by el io at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's clearly a genius marketing move. But it's also something that will give perfect cover for every actual racist for decades who can deny it's racist because Kanye is wearing it, too.

Like all appropriations, this complicates and adds another layer of meaning to the symbol, but it doesn't negate the existing meanings.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:31 PM on November 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


But... that isn't the Confederate flag. It's one of the Battle Flags of the Army of Northern Virginia. So it's more like the "Wolfsangel" emblem of the Das Reich SS Panzer Division than it is a national flag.

Yeah, I really hate neo-Confederates.
posted by Justinian at 10:07 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yea, I dont think this has really cancelled out the negatives for the N word, even when uttered by black folk, and it's not going to work here either.
posted by smidgen at 10:07 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]




"Anything's possible. Some people think hammers and sickles are cute."

HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR BED FOR COMMIES?
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 PM on November 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


By 'appreciate', I mean that I appreciate it when someone gives a loud and clear signal of their character...
Whenever I see a pickup truck with absurdly large tires sporting a Confederate flag in these parts, about as far away from Dixie as it is possible to get and still remain on the same continent, I take it as public service announcement, the meaning of which is 'Caution - probably stupid, likely drunk and possibly armed driver ahead', and give them a wide berth.
posted by islander at 11:35 PM on November 5, 2013


Confederacy is the new queer.

I thought it was very strange how commonplace I saw confederate flags were on clothing in Israel last January. I asked people why they were wearing it, and they said "because it looks cool."
posted by oceanjesse at 11:56 PM on November 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This strikes me as an attention grab of very little real importance, a tempest in a teapot.

Call me a cynic, but I predict that some people will be pissed off, others will feel righteous, a lot of people won't care at all, Kanye will make some money off the merch, and it will have no significant or lasting effect on attitudes towards the Confederate flag or on racial issues in general.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:06 AM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I want to see Kanye release a country album. Scratch that; I wanna see Kanye release a string of country albums. I want to see Kanye and Tyler the Creator spend the next 10 years producing the best goddamned selling country and roots-rock albums in history. Then I want to see a reaction shot of Southern conservatives looking confused. THE END.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:37 AM on November 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


If Kanye really wanted to start a shitstorm, he should have re-colored the confederate flag with red, black, and green.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:10 AM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


in 2 years he'll start the "noose necklace" trend

Disney took care of that a few years ago.
posted by tilde at 5:11 AM on November 6, 2013


But... that isn't the Confederate flag. It's one of the Battle Flags of the Army of Northern Virginia. So it's more like the "Wolfsangel" emblem of the Das Reich SS Panzer Division than it is a national flag.

I mean, it's "the Confederate Flag," but yeah, it wasn't the national flag of the CSA. The history of Confederate flags is really interesting - the flag in question was actually rejected in 1861 in favor of the stars and bars design, which was then in turn replaced because it "resemble[d] the Yankee flag and that is enough to make it unutterably detestable." And then they replaced it one more time just for fun. Designs generally sported the battle flag where United States' flag has stars.
posted by soma lkzx at 5:16 AM on November 6, 2013


Without this symbol it will take more time and energy to easily spot the racists and bigots.

Oh, don't worry. I'm sure they'll find a new way to clearly signal their beliefs.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2013


The history of Confederate flags is really interesting
"Initial reaction to the second national flag was favorable, but over time it became criticized for being "too white."
Best sentence ever.

I sort of feel like Kanye isn't pushing this thing as far as it can go. Confederate-themed merch? Pfft. You can get that at any truck stop in the south. No, what we need from Kanye and Kim is something more like a full-scale singing/dancing/travelling Gone With The Wind hip hopera.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:02 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I grew up in the town of Shepherdsville, KY...My point: Don't be so quick to talk about "racist people" when you should instead be talking about "ignorant people" or people that do not have the benefit of context and education that you and I have. The kids that lived across the street from me, where I played basketball every afternoon, it's not their fault that the home they grew up in placed zero emphasis on homework and learning, and as a result, they had absolutely no understanding of history. They have absolutely no idea that it's a "symbol of aristocratic slavers and traitors." To them, it's just a bad-ass X with stars in it.

tl;dr Not all people who like the confederate flag are racist; many of them are simply undereducated, and you don't make things better when you point at them and scream "RACIST SCUM!"

posted by jbickers at 11:02 PM on November 5


Well, I'm posting from Louisville, a part of Louisville that's roughly fifteen miles from Shepherdsville, KY. I have friends who live in Shepherdsville, D&D playing, computer geeky types who've lived there, and whom I've known, since I was in college (so, 20+ years).

And I'm here to tell you that they tell me it's an open secret that Shepherdsville is a KKK enclave. That they caution me to steer clear of anyone I see in Shepherdsville displaying the Confederate flag for damn good reasons.

I don't doubt, jbickers, that some people in Shepherdsville are merely undereducated. But according to sources that I consider reliable, those folk live cheek-by-jowl with genuine white-sheet-wearing, cross-burning types. I am led to understand that any Shepherdsville residents who might be ignorant about the stars-and-bars are most emphatically not ignorant of who their neighbors are, their involvement in the KKK and similar groups, and their racist symbols of choice.

They might be undereducated, jbickers, but they ain't stupid.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:10 AM on November 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


He could have just named his kid "South".
posted by incandissonance at 6:29 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


southern pride

I'm from the Midwest, not the South, so I didn't group up with Southern pride. That said, while I can certainly understand having a certain feeling of pride for the place of your upbringing I don't understand any non-racist reason for the bombastic use of the phrase "Southern Pride" especially when used in combination with a display of the Confederate flag, which is a symbol of black oppression. What have you got to be so proud about?
posted by gagglezoomer at 6:39 AM on November 6, 2013


Saxon Kane: "Without this symbol it will take more time and energy to easily spot the racists and bigots.

Oh, don't worry. I'm sure they'll find a new way to clearly signal their beliefs.
"

"Don't tread on me" flags. Big broken down pick up trucks with bumper stickers about Islam, Immigrants, Obama. NRA sticker. Oh yeah, there's plenty. (Sorry, NRA people. It's not the guns, it's the NRA itself that I think is the indicator).
posted by symbioid at 6:39 AM on November 6, 2013


I don't listen to rap at all, but I am a music snob and part of my daily read are about a half-dozen music review websites.

I'm surprised, that when Kayne's name comes up, people guffaw as if he is some no-talent, vacuous pop star buffoon.

The guy is LITERALLY the most critically acclaimed rapper/musicianworkinginrap of the past, what, decade?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:51 AM on November 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


It feels kind of punk rock, in a 1977 Siouxsie-wearing-a-swastika sense.

I'm also in the "Kanye is possibly a total genius for doing this" camp, but I'm not sure the use of the swastika in the punk scene is quite the right analogy.


It's exactly the right analogy, and I would expect it to play out the same way. The only difference is that there will be slightly better visual evidence for who's on which side - it won't be what color your laces are or something, but black people with confederate flags must be reappropriating and white people - well, white people still can't say the n-word either, despite Patti Smith's well-intentioned attempt in the 70's.

Most reappropriated words still get used in their original hurtful sense by anyone who wants to - it doesn't really change the meaning of the word after all. It feels totally different when you and your friend jokingly refer to each other with "bitch, please" and when someone actually calls you a bitch. And it's the same with all the queer slang in the LGBT crowd, and the racist words that have become fraternal language - it doesn't take the power away from people who want to use them to ostracize you.

To me, this reminds me a little of Dave Chappelle - the idea is that it's meant to make a point about reappropriating, recognizing, commenting on something. But I bet for some portion of people who just see a bunch of confederate flags, it will just be a straightforward confirmation of what they already had assumed - "southern pride," old traditions, something vague about stay with your own kind... Kanye may think he's being smart, but if the audience isn't smart enough to get it, he'll just be supporting racism.
posted by mdn at 6:54 AM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would like to see a new trend of pissing on the confederate flag. Maybe R. Kelly can start that one.
posted by caddis at 7:02 AM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nu South Apparel did something similar (but in my opinion, more effective) back in the late 90s.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 7:08 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The issues with the Confederate flag for me are it's history and the fact that some people do still see it as a symbol of institutional racism. But I think that for many it really is about Southern pride. ("Dukes of Hazzard" anyone?) In any case, I wish there was a way to remove any racist elements from the symbol 'cause it's a pretty cool looking flag.
posted by nowhere man at 7:22 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think its a good idea, very subversive. Imagine the look on every racist face when their stars and bars is taken as a sign of hip-hop fanhood.

Over time, the old states of the confederacy will remove it from their state capitol buildings because it will just be free publicity for Kanye.
posted by Renoroc at 7:23 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's an interesting experiment. I concur with what some others have said, that for a lot of white Southerners, their first reaction and identification with the flag is of Southern pride. The dividing factor is then if the immediate follow up reaction is the understanding that it was a flag that was raised in defense of slavery and then further appropriated by white supremacists as a symbol of intimidation and fear.

I really love the colors and design of the flag from an aesthetic perspective, but the flag as a symbol has a very long road to take if it will ever be rehabilitated as anything other than something that stands for the preservation of human bondage and white supremacy.

As an aside, I found the fact that the producers of Revolution decided that the Georgia Federation's flag should be the Confederate Battle Flag cut in half very awkward.
posted by Atreides at 7:50 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kanye should get some change management advice from whoever was responsible for the re-imaging behind that iconic Che Guevara visage. And he should also talk to whoever got the kids to think those Guy Fawkes masks were somehow consistent with their worldviews.
posted by klarck at 8:02 AM on November 6, 2013


Southern Pride is for folks that enjoy pimento cheese, bourbon whiskey, biscuits and gravy, grits, country ham, hush puppies, pecan pie, collard greens, cornbread, sweet tea, mint juleps, BBQ, fried green tomatoes, molasses, fried chicken, key lime pie, Brunswick stew, vidalia onions, shrimp and grits, hoppin' johns, baked mac and cheese, okra fucking anything, chicken and waffles, ox tail stew, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, peach cobbler, etc.
The list goes on, and I didn't even mention Cajun cuisine.

To me, southern pride is ordering biscuits for breakfast in Seattle, and knowing why they aren't delicious. Southern pride is that smirk one has stirring sugar into a glass of cold tea up in Kalamazoo.

It's that damned racist confederate flag, not southern pride that rallies the worst folks down here. I'm happy that Prominent Black Man Kanye West is making a statement like this. I know people that won't go from this current state in the south to certain states farther down south because they are scared of how they will be treated as black folks. Taking the air out of confederate solidarity by twisting it as a subversive symbol is a perfectly fine place to dig into such fear if you ask me. If I see the day where black kids are wearing confederate flag clothing in places like Madison County, NC as a fuck you to white supremacy, I'll know that something transformative has happened.

Don't get southern pride confused with confederate solidarity because in that regard, there's nothing to be proud of.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:27 AM on November 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Lord almighty, I can't believe anyone hasn't pointed this out yet (correct me, if I'm wrong), but comparing this to someone trying to reclaim the swastika is misguided. If swastika flags were routinely being pasted on millions of t-shirts, hats and pick-up trucks around Germany, and a famous Jewish celebrity decided that they were going to reclaim the swastika for themselves, then you could be making a comparative analogy. The oppressed trying to reclaim the symbols of their oppression is perfectly legitimate and can't be equated to anyone trying to reclaim anyone else's symbol of oppression. Get real.
posted by PigAlien at 8:31 AM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


Southern Pride is for folks that enjoy pimento cheese, bourbon whiskey, biscuits and gravy, grits, country ham, hush puppies, pecan pie, collard greens, cornbread, sweet tea, mint juleps, BBQ, fried green tomatoes, molasses, fried chicken, key lime pie, Brunswick stew, vidalia onions, shrimp and grits, hoppin' johns, baked mac and cheese, okra fucking anything, chicken and waffles, ox tail stew, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, peach cobbler, etc.

Holy SHIT you just described my husband*. Seriously, I'd have left out the fried green tomatoes, hoppin' johns, and ox tail stew but WHOA that is uncanny.

*Assuming by "BBQ" you mean pig in a vinegar based sauce. Mr. Pterodactyl has been known to state "I like all kinds of barbecue, eastern Carolina AND western Carolina."
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:32 AM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


southern pride is ordering biscuits for breakfast in Seattle, and knowing why they aren't delicious

Well ... that's me. Right there. That is something I have literally done. That is a kind of southern pride I can get behind (especially knowing that they aren't delicious because they don't have Tennessee Pride).
posted by komara at 8:56 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


okra fucking anything

There is a dark and troubling tendency on the part of southerners to put random objects into jars of vinegar, seal them up so that they look like lab specimens, only to open the jar and eat the object later. I have spent my life desperately trying to avoid this habit of my kinfolk.

However, it turns out, as I just found out this week, that pickled okra is not only amusing to look at, floating in its jar, but is actually addictively tasty, tangy and sweet and crunchy, way better than actual pickles (as the now empty jar will attest).

I will not be working up the nerve to try the pickled eggs floating in their pink water with the bay leaf slowly decaying in it, and the pickled pigs feet make me thankful every day that I am a vegetarian, but okra? I will eat all the okra ever.
posted by mittens at 9:49 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somewhat regurgitating the commonly-accepted narrative here, so apologies up front for anything unintentionally contentious.

A better comparison than the swastika might be the Union Jack, which for decades in England (won't presume to speak for the rest of the UK) was perceived as only really for royals, armed forces or racists. Publicly displaying it without obvious reason marked you out as probably the latter, and horribly gauche at the least. Culturally reclaimed in the mid-90s starting with Britpop and peaking with the Cool Britannia business it's effectively just another symbol these days, no more or less problematic than the next flag. Especially since a lot of the English racists jumped ship to the St George's Cross.

I'm thinking Ginger Spice and Tony Blair aren't up to much at the moment. If Kanye wants this gambit to stick maybe he should ring 'em up and get one or both into a Confederate Flag Dress sharpish.
posted by comealongpole at 9:50 AM on November 6, 2013


What are the reactions, if any, from white people who currently display the Confederate flag? Do they care?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:57 AM on November 6, 2013


No, they're too busy trying to make room on the bumper for the Salt Life and Carolina Girl stickers.
posted by mittens at 9:58 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


So it's not going to have much of an effect on racist white people or clueless white people. But I'm thinking there is potential for genius here if it changes the experience of black people seeing the confederate flag.

Pre-stunt: "I am just trying to drive to work here, do I really need to look at your crappy bumper sticker reminding me how most of the country used to consider my ancestors sub-human?"

Post-stunt: "Thanks for advertising Kanye's tour, jackass."
posted by selfmedicating at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've said it before and I'll say it again: the man is a genius level troll.

(I love him for it.)

I don't know how this will pan out, but I do know it'll be interesting to watch.
posted by dogheart at 10:11 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


But wait! How does this affect the sacred beat?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:12 AM on November 6, 2013


I will not be working up the nerve to try the pickled eggs floating in their pink water with the bay leaf slowly decaying in it, and the pickled pigs feet make me thankful every day that I am a vegetarian, but okra? I will eat all the okra ever.

Pickled pigs feet seem like one of those things that must be a joke, but I know people eat them or at least used to. My mom grew up helping out at a boarding house someone in the family ran for railroad workers, and apparently those guys would just devour pig's feet whenever they got the chance. It's mind boggling. Picturing it seems like something out of a horror movie.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:33 AM on November 6, 2013


This is the most rock and roll gesture I have seen in ages. I love it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:45 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


those guys would just devour pig's feet whenever they got the chance. It's mind boggling.

Pigs' feet are cheap castoffs and pickling foods preserves them. Most mind-boggling foods can be traced back to practicalities - they're inexpensive & accessible, and they keep. That makes all kinds of sense when money and refrigeration (which also costs) are factors. In that situation, throwing away any part of the animal would be mind-boggling.
posted by headnsouth at 10:47 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Native American Headdresses

Not fucking his to "repurpose" - and frankly cuts down a lot of what he says for me. It makes it a whole lot more like "I wanted to stir some shit up" and a lot less like "I wanted to have a thoughtful conversation about race and/or change the way people think about this symbol." If he had been thoughtful at all about broader race relations - I just can't see that being the decision that's made. That shit makes me boiling mad. And pairing it up with "God wants you" just makes my skin crawl. There's a whole lot of genocidal history relating to Native Americans being forcibly converted and being denied their heritage.

Native Americans are not dead:

In the context of Kanye West, this matters because Kanye at least claims to be anti-corporate and pro-uplift. While the accuracy of those claims is questionable, we can definitely say this: at the end of the day, even if he arguably really just wants to speak for himself, Kanye West frequently advocates giving silenced voices a chance to be heard. His self-narrative and his recent press run make this explicit. Accordingly, by profiting off of images that quite neatly fit into an ongoing history of silencing the voices of Native Americans, he’s become one of the silencers that he rails against. Although the shirts have already been printed, by condemning those images, Kanye can resolve this in a meaningful way.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:51 AM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


You can break down foods that you regard as, "OMG, they're EATING THAT?!" as either food that 1) evolved out of poor people struggling to have enough to eat or 2) elite rich people who sought to eat things that no one else would or have access to originally.

Follow that guide, and it's all understandable.

My grandfather grew up on a subsistence farm and they pretty much ate only what they could grow. Since they kept hogs and slaughtered them to provide meat for the rest of the year (salted and cured), pigs feet fell into that category.
posted by Atreides at 11:08 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


PigAlien, swastikas are illegal in germany. And there were plenty of jewish kids in the punk movement, and the whole swastika thing was a point of disagreement for jewish and non-jewish punks. Here's a piece about it.
posted by mdn at 11:09 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


React how you want. Like I said, any energy you got is good energy. You know, the Confederate flag represented slavery, in a way––that’s my abstract take on what I know about it, right? So I made the song ‘New Slaves.’ So I took the Confederate flag and made it my flag. It’s my flag now! Now what are you gonna do?

I'm white and I don't feel that I really get a say but I would love it if the confederate flag became a symbol of black power. I also love the earnestness mixed with sheer badassery of those last two lines, coming from a black man who used to be bullied who now has money, influence, and enormous artistic talent: "It's my flag now! Now what are you gonna do?" I hope it works, and the symbol comes to represent something like a Phoenix.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:39 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


So it's not going to have much of an effect on racist white people or clueless white people. But I'm thinking there is potential for genius here if it changes the experience of black people seeing the confederate flag.

Pre-stunt: "I am just trying to drive to work here, do I really need to look at your crappy bumper sticker reminding me how most of the country used to consider my ancestors sub-human?"

Post-stunt: "Thanks for advertising Kanye's tour, jackass."


Yeeeah that's never going to happen.
posted by kafziel at 12:13 PM on November 6, 2013


Not fucking his to "repurpose" - and frankly cuts down a lot of what he says for me.

There is an African-American tradition of Native Garb that dates back to 1885. Native Appropriations addresses it:

The Mardi Gras Indian culture does not appear to come out of a desire to “play Indian”, and in many ways, it has moved outside of the realm of cultural appropriation into a distinct culture and community of it’s own. But above all, it seems the history comes not out of a relationship of power, but out of a shared position of marginality and discrimination.

So, in this sense, I find it hard to write my usual rant on an insensitive appropriation of Native culture, but, on the other hand, it still makes me uncomfortable.


As far as I can tell, he's not actually selling headdresses, but instead images of skeletons dressed in Native headdresses (and other skeletons wrapped in Confederate flags), and that seems to fit in with the shared history of marginalization and discrimination.

It's complex and I don't think there is any one right way to feel about it -- I don't blame anyone for feeling uncomfortable or unhappy -- but, to it's credit, it is complex. It isn't some white kid waving a tomahawk on Halloween.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:18 PM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


I will not be working up the nerve to try the pickled eggs floating in their pink water with the bay leaf slowly decaying in it

Vegetarian Southerner here, and I strongly recommend you try you some pickled eggs. As a once-in-a-while treat, they're awesome. Just don't consume them if you expect to be in enclosed spaces shortly thereafter with people whom you want to have a high opinion of you, unless there's a also a dog present that you can blame for certain outcomes....

(Although I'm a vegetarian Southerner now, I grew up eating meat, and I offer the same advice re: pickled pig's feet to you carnivores who might have reservations about that food item.)
posted by lord_wolf at 1:11 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I remember an upside down American flag being used as anti-hegemonic imagery in the Anti-Flag-type punk bands & crowd, which I think was a really obvious signal of rebellion against what that right-side-up symbol means.
What I'm trying to say is I guess it's just too bad that the Confederate flag looks the same either way.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 2:33 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


This wasn't mentioned in any of the links, but comedian Dick Gregory did something similar fifty years ago when he titled his autobiography Nigger and wrote in the dedication: 'Dear Momma -- Wherever you are, if ever you hear the word "nigger" again, remember they are advertising my book'.

I'm going to assume that what West is attempting was directly inspired by Gregory. Kanye is a well-read guy and is certain to be familiar with the comic's role in reclaiming "nigger."
posted by riruro at 4:29 PM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


If we object, we have no choice but to expose the lie that the confederate flag is not a racist signifier.

some of us have ancestors who fought against that flag, like me - i'm not sure i'm exactly objecting to kanye doing this, as he does have an interesting set of reasons

but i'm a yankee, damnit, and i'm not wearing that damn thing
posted by pyramid termite at 5:02 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


[One comment deleted; don't just drop in to vent spleen with over the top Youtube-like commenting. You don't have to like Kanye, but you have to engage in good faith here, or leave the thread alone if you can't.]
posted by taz (staff) at 11:45 PM on November 6, 2013




Kanye is a clown.
posted by zscore at 8:58 AM on November 7, 2013


Radio interview with Kanye West re confederate flag adoption and Barack Obama. "You don’t ever know what I’m trying to do. Black people stopping other black people from getting checks. What black people don’t know is that racism is something that white people don’t even have to do anymore because we hate each other more than white people hate us. It’s like a real estate on racism- it works on itself. People got bills. Don’t nobody care about the Confederate flag on that type of level." If you care about what he's saying it's better to listen to the interview at the first link; out of context the excerpts don't make as much sense." Excerpts here, but full video is at first link, and it's about 30 or 40 minutes long -- a new video comes up after the first ends etc.

Also, West recently lectured at the Harvard School of Design.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:36 PM on November 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bret Easton Ellis has a new podcast. The first episode contains the first half of a chat with Kanye. The chat's pretty good. They talk a lot about movies and being excited about things the way they were when they were kids. Looking forward to the other half.
posted by sparkletone at 9:09 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


New Video for Bound 2. 2 Flannels now, just when everyone started wearing one. Kanye just changed the game up yet again.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:16 AM on November 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think he stole one of the flannels from Kim ...

"So I took Kim's flannel and made it my flannel. It’s my flannel now! Now what are you gonna do?"
posted by Fig at 3:39 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I usually love Kanye's videos, but that one's a swing and a miss. I don't understand why that track is a single, either.

As for flannels, those have been in for a while.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:42 PM on November 20, 2013


I don't think the video is amazing but I don't think it is as bad as people are making it out to be.

It was directed by Nick Knight, a fashion photographer, so I think it is meant to look like a photoshoot with a rear projection background. I don't think they went with the cheapest greenscreen effects they could get away with as people seem to think. A lot of criticism revolves around the fact that the wind is blowing from the back of the morotcycle ruining the "illusion" and causing people to say "lol Kanye doesn't understand how wind works" but I honestly think that is intentional as a fictive effect.

A lot of people think the rest of the imagery is "cheesy" but I think they carefully selected iconic American images, most especially Monument Valley. Are they saying it is a great american romance? Are they simply fucking on a motorcycle all across America? dunno.

I really hate the radio edit for Bound 2 it ruins my favorite line "This that prom shit, this that what we do don't tell your mom shit, this that red cup all on your lawn shit"

Incidentally "red cup all on your lawn shit" mirrors some other lines from the album "Black tims all on your couch again" and "Yeezy's all on your sofa". Images of of Kanye getting all up on some shit fucking it up.

Is this what the video is? Kimye all on your America?
posted by Ad hominem at 4:30 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I thought the video was sexy, but I kept wanting to tell Kanye to keep his eyes on the road and holy crap don't ride around naked, Kim, you're gonna get roadrash!
posted by onlyconnect at 5:53 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Maybe I'm over thinking it.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:09 PM on November 20, 2013


i'm with you, ad hom (surprise, surprise) - i think he's totally going for...something...but i'm not completely sure i get it. i've watched it multiple times on his official channel, so, you know, paying him with every refresh.

and photoshopped or not, kim k. looks fucking amazing. i love to think it's a giant middle finger to everyone who called her fat while she was, you know, fucking pregnant just like this.
posted by nadawi at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, West recently lectured at the Harvard School of Design.

Seriously? I literally gave a talk in the same auditorium a week ago.

It looks like his was better attended, though.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:51 PM on November 20, 2013


My friends and I have been talking about this video and our take on this is that it's partly a "fuck you" to basically the entire reaction to Kanye and Kim Kardashian getting married. Like, "you want to know what our marriage is like? I drive her around on a motorcycle naked. It's perfect and we are the ultimate American couple." Where the fake-ness of it all underscores just how stupid it would be to assume that two media icons' relationship would be anything like how the media iconizes them to be, on account of they're two people and people are complicated.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:01 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


i love to think it's a giant middle finger to everyone who called her fat while she was, you know, fucking pregnant

good point. I forgot all about the fact that she just had a baby.

that actually makes me appreciate naked Kim all up on your 52 inch plasma more.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:08 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tour review from the NY Daily News. Not a deep analysis, but a summary of some of the stuff that happens and a 28 song set list. Pull quotes:

It was all very Madonna, from its religious provocation to its sketchy meaning.

[A]t its core, the show wasn’t about crowd-pleasing. It was about unyielding beats, hellish textures and a brusque flow, all delivered with an impact every bit as stunning as West’s ego itself.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:33 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Too bad they didn't say much about Kendrick. Kanye is my favorite creative genius but K.dot along with Danny Brown are my favorite rappers out now.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:05 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sasha Frere-Jones's review of the New York show: The M.C. Who Fell To Earth

The Washington Post's (brief) review of the DC Show: It was an experience unlike any other

Actually, I was at that one, and I'd say it was indeed Amazing, though also did little to suggest that Kanye's problems are due to his being a victim of anything other than his own ego. More relevant to the original topic of this thread, you could buy ball caps and bags with confederate flags, though the Indian skeleton logo stuff looked like it was more broadly available. There was also some more conventional shirts with large prints of his face and the tour image of him ascending into heaven. (Much prettier, IMO.) At one both, they were selling a tee-shirt with a stencil of Africa embossed with the word "COMPTON", but I'm not sure if that was for Kanye or Kendrick.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:32 PM on November 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Aaaaaargh, I've got tix to one of the (delayed) Chicago shows, and I Can. Not. Wait.
posted by Fig at 1:14 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just imagine that your show's custom monologues are gestating & improving as you get closer to the performance.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:38 PM on November 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Link to today's MetaFilter thread re the James Franco/Seth Rogan shot-for-shot parody of Bound II.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:01 PM on November 25, 2013


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