Seattle, Washington’s Experience Music Project, a distinguished museum built to showcase contemporary popular music culture, opened its latest exhibition last week to an adoring crowd. The new exhibit, called Spectacle: the Music Video, is a celebration of the short-form music video and its influence on popular American culture. And, as promised, a surprise performer appeared to rock the house. Native Seattleite Ben Haggerty, better known by his stage name ‘Macklemore’, appeared on stage to deliver a performance of his #1 smash hit single with producer Ryan Lewis, “Thrift Shop”. And while many have questioned the self-proclaimed Hip-Hop artist’s skills on the mic (or lack thereof), this performance has people asking questions for completely different reasons, having mainly to do with his rather strange choice of attire.
[*Check out a 48-second clip from Macklemore’s 15-minute performance and compare his costume with caricatures from Nazi-era anti-Jewish propaganda below:]
Macklemore appeared on stage on the night of Friday, May 16 sporting “the dark beard, the hooked nose, and the cheap suit” which, taken together and seen from a historical perspective, are “attributes of a caricature drawn to denigrate Jews throughout history.” His outrageous getup has some critics even taking a second look at the lyrics of his breakthrough hit “Thrift Shop”.
After performing the first song, Macklemore said to the crowd in jest, “I went to the costume shop and I got this nose and this beard” before awkwardly adding that he’d “never felt more like a man.” He then went into a rendition of another hit song he has with Ryan Lewis called “Can’t Hold Us”, capping it off by removing the fake nose and hair to reveal the blonde bob he’s notorious for. Macklemore left the show feeling like he was on top of the world, only to find that pictures from the event were quickly circulating the web and arousing suspicions over what exactly his costume was meant to portray. The alleged rapper responded by posting this message to his Twitter page on Monday:
A fake witches nose, wig, and beard = random costume. Not my idea of a stereotype of anybody.
— Macklemore (@macklemore) May 19, 2014
Needless to say many people weren’t buying it, with one NPR blogger opining, “Your story might in fact be legit, but so many things would have to go wrong in a particular order that you would kind of have to understand if no one believed you.” But Macklemore feigned ignorance in regards to the whole matter, delivering what amounts to a rather half-assed apology on his web blog, excerpted from which is the following:
Earlier in the day I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event, so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance. I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a leftover wig from our recent trip to Japan… I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair.
…It was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my [was] anti-Semitic.
Is it possible that this is all a big misunderstanding and any resemblance to pre-WWII racist Jewish caricatures are mere coincidence? I suppose it’s possible, in the same way that I could potentially wake up tomorrow and decide I want to put on a red cap, red jacket and pants trimmed with white fur and top it off by wearing a big fake white beard; yet I had no idea I was going to end up looking like Santa Claus!
On second thought, who the hell does Macklemore think he’s kidding?!
- Macklemore Performs Surprise Show in Offensive Costume
- Macklemore, the Grammy Winning Rapper, Is a 9/11 Truther Who Likes to Play Anti-Semitic Dress-Up
- The Craven: “Quoth the white man, ‘Macklemore.’” (poem)
- Stop Saying Nice Things About Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop’
- At the end of Macklemore’s blog post, he added:
PS – Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I’ve got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do.
No, thank you. While the Anti-Defamation League should be commended for some of the work it’s done in the past combating white supremacist/ right-wing extremist organizations, it is anything but progressive itself, something someone who markets himself as socially progressive (i.e. Macklemore) should be aware of. The ADL stood on the side of the racist South African apartheid regime, took to spying on the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S., and was even throwing shots at Nelson Mandela as late as 2003(!) The organization has sought to undermine Jewish voices who advocate peaceful solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict, such as the Jewish Voice for Peace and the the U.S.-based Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. In 2010 it sided with the right-wing in its vicious campaign to demonize America’s Islamic Community by denying them the right to build a House of Worship in Lower Manhattan.