Is Pop Star Macklemore Taking a Page Out of Hitler’s Playbook? [IMAGE COMPARISONS]

Macklemore performing in what seems an awful lot like a Jewish caricature popular in pre-WWII Europe
Macklemore performing in what seems an awful lot like a Jewish caricature popular in pre-WWII Europe

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:]

Pictured in the center is alleged "rapper" Macklemore donning a strange get-up which he claims was randomly put together. Pictured to the right is an antisemitic cartoon from 1930s Nazi-era Germany.
Pictured on the left is a British anti-semitic cartoon from post-WWI Britain. In the center is alleged “rapper” Macklemore donning a strange get-up which he claims was randomly put together. Pictured to the right is an antisemitic cartoon from 1930s Nazi-era Germany.

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”.

Near the end of the 15-minute performance, Macklemore removes the fake nose and hair to reveal his famous blonde bob.
Near the end of the 15-minute performance, Macklemore removed the fake nose and hair to reveal his famous blonde bob.

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:

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. 

The Grammy award-winning pop music artist is pictured next to two pre-WWII racist depictions of European Jews.
The Grammy award-winning pop music artist is pictured next to two pre-WWII racist depictions of European Jews.
In Europe, especially in the intermediate decades between the first and second World Wars, Jewish people were widely depicted as a race inferior to the "Aryan" or "pure stock" of the white race, and found themselves ridiculed in cartoonish caricatures which scapegoated them for all economic problems. No place was the more apparent than in Germany.
In Europe, especially in the intermediate decades between the first and second World Wars, Jewish people were widely depicted as a race inferior to the “Aryan” or “pure stock” of white race, and found themselves ridiculed in cartoonish caricatures scapegoating them for all economic problems. No place was this more prevalent than in Germany after its defeat in WWI.
This antisemitic French cartoon depicts the Jews as greedy capitalists intent on getting their hands on the entire globe. Alongside it is Macklemore wearing an outfit which looks startlingly similar.
This antisemitic French cartoon depicts Jewish people as greedy capitalists intent on getting their hands on the entire globe. Alongside it is Macklemore wearing an outfit looking startlingly similar to the depiction.
Some caricatures portrayed Jews as being greedy capitalists, while others (above) depicted them as staunch Communists. The truth is that you could find Jewish people among both the capitalist class and the communist ideologues, just as you can with any people. They're not a monolithic group.
Some caricatures portrayed Jews as being greedy capitalists, while others (above) depicted them as staunch Communists. The truth is that you could find Jewish people among both the capitalist class and the communist ideologues, just as you can with any people. They’re not a monolithic group.

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!

A Nazi-era racist depiction of a Jew compared with Macklemore's performance attire.
A Nazi-era racist depiction of a Jew compared with Macklemore’s performance costume.

On second thought, who the hell does Macklemore think he’s kidding?!

Further Reading:

POSTSCRIPT:

  • 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.

9 thoughts

  1. So sick of these types of people who do the dumbest most deeply offensive stuff then claim, oh I didn’t mean anything by it!! Where the hell does he live? Down a whole in the middle of the earth? With no access to humanity? He’s a public figure, and what anti semitism looks like is no mystery to anyone, it’s been laid out loud and clearly for anyone connected to culture even a little bit.

    Oh but it didn’t cross his mind. Not at all.

    (People like this make my blood boil.)

    1. That’s Macklemore for you! Even his “Same Love” song that everybody loves so much is more about himself than standing up for anyone else. Just check out these lyrics:

      “When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
      ‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
      I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
      She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’.”
      Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
      Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
      I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league.”‘
      LMFAO.

          1. I know!!!!!!!!!!!! I remember seeing the name on news sites!!!!!

            W-T-F?

            Because musicians are not humans, they don’t have to be decent at all. Smh.

    1. I know. I can’t believe he really expects ppl to think he just “grabbed a witch nose” and “black hair” and came up with this costume by accident.

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