Die Antwoord, Last Victims Of Cancel Culture?
Die Antwoord (Watkin Tudor “Ninja” Jones and Yolandi Visser) has been canceled. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, right? They have always been controversial. The first Die Antwoord video I saw was this ‘Fatty Boom Boom’ one in 2012 and it was just too weird for the mainstream: this goofy South African neighborhood, these colorful rap-Zulu dances – Yolandi Visser would not get away with this full-body black-face today – this giant cricket extracted from the vagina of a fake Lady Gaga… it was a freak horror show, a funhouse for weirdos and they were the Marilyn Manson of South Africa (bad sign). As a matter of fact, Manson had a cameo in another of their videos, ‘Ugly Boy,’ along with a bunch of celebrities including Jack Black, Cara Delevingne, and Flea. Die Antwoord was part of the music world, recognized by their peers.
They were supposed to play a UK festival, ALT+LDN, along with big names like Playboi Carti, Lil Yachty, Machine Gun Kelly this summer but they were just dropped by the organizers due to alleged abuse. This is not even the first time this is happening, as, In 2019, they were also removed from the bills of major festivals, Riot Fest and Life Is Beautiful.
Artists Bob Vylan and ZAND have been calling for Die Antwoord’s removal, claiming they have been abusive ‘towards young people, towards vulnerable people, towards gay people, and people of color.’ I’m publicly asking for ALT+LDN to remove Die Antwoord from the bill,’ Bob Vylan declared in a video posted on Twitter, ‘and if not, I and other acts I’m sure will protest their presence with our presence, and make it extremely fucking uncomfortable for them to be there, I can guarantee that.’
In 2019, Australian musician Zheani Sparkes, who looks like a more gothic Grimes, accused Jones of sexually assaulting her in South Africa in 2013; you can read all the details of the story here. Let’s just say they had an email communication that she found quite overwhelming, he sent her explicit photos of himself, he offered to travel to Australia to meet her, and she agreed. He drugged her and convinced her to come to Africa – that’s what Sparkes later called ‘trafficking to Africa.’ Then, drugs helping, things accelerated, she claims that Jones had aggressive sex with her against her will, choking her while behaving violently. She flew back to Australia. Since that time, other women have accused Jones of sexual assault, Some of the other incidents were witnessed by their long-term manager, Jay Savage, and their former filmmaker and art curator, Benjay Crossman. There was also an episode with ‘Swastika Girl’ Dionna Dal Monte, also nicknamed ‘the Miley Cyrus of Nazi punk,’ and Jones praising her tattoos and Hitler.
Of course, Jones has denied all the allegations against him.
All this sounds very familiar, and this is a story we have heard many times before, a successful band – Die Antwoord really has millions of fans – and an out-of-control jerk for a frontman. If you look at their past work, you could see all the signs from miles ahead, but everyone conveniently ignored them. As two white Africans, they were the poster band of everything we now consider as the greatest sins: abundant cultural appropriation and blackfaces in every video! However, they were taken seriously, celebrated, and praised for a decade. 2012 is not so far away, has our perception of the world changed that fast? Noisey released their videos, they made a movie with Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, they were interviewed by Dave Navarro, while Flea and Jack Black were in their videos.
Now their fans are more divided than ever, and Die Antwoord’s career seems to be on hold, festival-wise, but I am sure they still have enough fans to fill out stadiums on their own. I have never been a fan of Die Antwoord, but they were an interesting social experiment, a freak show embraced by pop culture, and now the last victims of cancel culture.