Does Die Antwoord Have a Copyright on Controversy?

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It’s a dark day in the usually bubblegum-pink and neon green lives of Ninja and Yolandi Vi$$er. They’ve fallen victim to the unforgivable crime of…APPROPRIATION.

They should know—they’re no strangers to committing it.

Yesterday, Die Antwoord, everyone’s favorite South African Celine Dion-obsessed hip hop duo, called out Suicide Squad director David Ayer for “jocking” their style in the look of the film, specifically in the characters of Harley Quinn and The Joker.

yes David Ayer u jockin our style. callin ninja up before your movie came our pretendin 2b down, so it looks OK when u bite our black & white graf style & our opening sequence to umshiniwam & an all da lil tiny details u nibbeld dat other people wont see but we notice. Cara & Jared told us how much u were talkin abt us on set but u never asked our permision to rip us off. An when ninja texted u sayin wassup wif dat u said nothin like a scared lil bitch. U were jus flauntin our names pretendin to b down. u aint down an u never will b. but before we knew da extent of ur two face nature – u invited us to ur movie premiere(which i didnt wanna go to) but ninja went , tinkin ur solid guy an mayb there was jus a lil “misunderstandin”. Den poor ninja had to sit thru dat hole bullshit movie. An u even got da nerve to say wassup to him smilin – an ninja has to b nice cus he is there wif his kid. But we all tink u wack. U shud start a crew called:,”im a fake fuck” ask kanye if he wants to join u. Cum show ur pretty face at my studios. U know Muggs & u know where da Soul Assasin Studios at. we watin for u. @djmuggs_the_black_goat_ @zef_alien @boojie_baby_ @ragingzefboner @_dark_force_ @dejanvisser @djhitekisgod @jipsi518

A video posted by ¥O-LANDI VI$$ER (@prawn_star) onAug 9, 2016 at 11:58pm PDT

 

The evidence they present (on Instagram) is interesting, if not quite enough to make an airtight case. But Die Antwoord could never such a case. No one could ever accuse them of originality.

From the moment they set on the scene, the blonde, nasty rap duo have been doing plenty ‘jocking’ of their own. After all, they’re white South Africans, and thus (in whatever unconscious part) colonists. They’ve put on “literal and figurative” blackface in their videos. Their own instances of appropriation have been praised as creativity and irreverence. They’ve gotten off the hook simply by being batshit crazy enough to present gross ideas in a rave-like, ‘artistc’ guise.

There’s also the fact that what Die Antwoord sees as their aesthetic is often no more than a dye job and a pair of blackout contacts. They don’t own the rights to Manic Panic, they don’t have a moratorium on tattoos. They aren’t the only people in the world who wear several watches on one arm. They can’t lay claim to inventing and owning aspects of a culture that predates them and will be used for aesthetic purposes long after they’ve left this earth. To claim that they invented punk style is like claiming that Vice invented skateboarding culture.   

It’s hard to have sympathy for rich white South Africans laying claim to a kind of branded authenticity that they’ve never had. I mean really, when it comes to Ninja and Yolandi, how much style is really left to “jock”?

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