By May 20, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

On Macklemore’s Apology For ‘Accidentally’ Assembling Anti-Jewish Stereotype Costume


It is great that Macklemore finally got around to apologizing for his costume that mirrored overtly anti-Jewish stereotypes and propaganda. Though it would seem that from the outset, his best move would have been to simply apologize and say that no offense was ever intended. He might have simply responded to folks like Seth Rogan, who criticized his poor choice of costume attire, saying simply… that it was a poor choice and that he’s essentially a moron for not realize the stereotypes that his costume would invoked, particularly to people who have been targeted with those stereotypes by hate groups, and even regimes, over the past century. He could have immediately said that he was just caught up in his own world and experiences as an Irish-American of Christian background, and was subjectively, woefully ignorant of such stereotypical imagery and how it was used against members of the Jewish faith community…

It still seems like a stretch to image that he was that ignorant of the history of anti-Jewish propaganda in the early 20th century and even still throughout many parts of the world today, where Jews are depicted as gross caricatures almost identically mirroring the costume he assembled. But at least he would have apologized and nipped this in the bud. But, alas, better late than never.

With respect to Macklemore’s socially-brain dead costume choice, when adding the gold, silk shirt, unbuttoned to expose his chest slightly like a smarmy record executive out of the 1970s, it is difficult to believe that the combination of his costume choices were completely random and had absolutely no intentions of any sort in mind. Perhaps, though, perhaps he thought to himself, “I’ll dress up like a smarmy 1970s record executive, as I envision him,” and did not realize the anti-Jewish imagery that had been so deeply embedded into his subconscious. Or perhaps even deeper seated than that, he did not realize that this imagery in general – an impossibly big nose, beard, and black suit, was what he thought of when he thought “how should I look, if I wish to to be seen as ridiculous”. Perhaps, looking like an anti-Jewish stereotype was just that deeply embedded in his mind as what someone should look like if they wished to look truly ridiculous.

Costume shops are filled with ethnically insensitive and even outright offensive costumes of all sorts. Native American costumes complete with fake leather loin cloth; “Drunk Mexican” costumes with a sombrero, fake mustache and bottle of tequila; “Gangster” costumes, which wearers assure us are not racist, even while they embody every anti-African American stereotype imaginable. Clearly, he knew he should not don an “Afro” wig, and a wide nose. He was aware enough, in spite of the fact that these would have disguised him just as well, to understand that this would be seen as offensive and stereotypical. Why wasn’t he aware that this was the case with the costume choice he did make?

Because of the targeting of members of the Jewish religious community by the Third Reich, coming to a head in what was by all standards of history one of the most institutionalized act of genocide we have record of, it is a bit more difficult to find costumes marketed specifically as mocking Jews. But all the component pieces for such a costume are there, and easy enough to assemble if and when someone wants to offend. This, however, Macklemore explains was simply a fax pas on his behalf. Fine. But that imagery existed, deeply embedded in his subconscious, ready for him to assemble that costume to reconstruct an image he had seen, and apparently not paid attention to, thousands of times, even if he barely stayed awake as a youth in social studies class decades ago.

Yes, Macklemore finally got around to apologizing and that is a good thing. Hell, it’s a great thing. It damn near feels like a miracle since he waited so long to do it. It is what Jews all over the world had been asking for, even directly on his Twitter account, from day one. Why he waited so long for a simple apology is anyone’s guess, but now that he has offered it, we can only accept it, and surmise that Macklemore was just that woefully ignorant of modern history and social issues extending beyond those that are currently in vogue for him to potentially market himself with to a young generation (as important as they are). Or perhaps, it was more a product of being immersed in the culture of that younger generation. Perhaps the broader, American popular culture has already forgotten where the images that Macklemore’s costume came from emanated historically, and how they are still used in certain parts of the world today, including Greece and the Ukraine which has seen a recent resurgence of such imagery in Neo-Nazi and otherwise fascist propaganda.

Perhaps, if nothing more, this will be a wake up call to Macklemore and his fans to start paying attention.

(Article by M.B. David)

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