Tyler, the Creator Fights Homophobia...With a Neo-Nazi Symbol?
If you didn’t think Tyler, the Creator could get anymore controversial, then you definitely thought wrong.
In a move that many critics are calling naïve, the skateboard-riding indie rapper and member of the Odd Future hip-hop collective shocked the internet (and the entire world) when he re-appropriated a Neo-Nazi symbol to create a limited edition “Golf Pride” t-shirt for his Golf Wang clothing line.
In a photo uploaded to Tyler's personal Instagram account, he is wearing the "gay pride" t-shirt and holding hands with another man. This stunt is controversial, not only because of the appropriation of white supremacist propaganda, but also because of Tyler’s problematic history with perceived homophobia, stemming from his liberal and frequent use of the f-word.
“Ever since my career started, I’ve been labeled as a homophobe simply because of my use of the word faggot” said Tyler in the description of the now sold-out t-shirt on the Golf Wang website. “Again, trying to take the power out of something. I was never referring to someone’s sexual preference when using that word.”
While some commentators are praising Tyler for the artistry and design behind the highly contentious tee (GQ’s Alex Frank points out that cultural icons like Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren have also used Nazi symbols in their designs and art before, in less meaningful ways), some aren’t buying the message he is selling.
“…these T-shirts are Tyler's way of showing support for those he may have offended — without ever actually apologizing for his grievances,” said Vulture’s Dee Locket in a piece published on Friday. “But the problem with this new merch isn't the message, it's the translation: Using the language (in this case, imagery) of an oppressor to stand in unison with an oppressed community he's shown zero regard for — while still defending a right to "take the power out" of a word that his straight cis privilege has never allowed him to feel powerless — misses the mark. And it reeks of self-righteousness.”
What do you think of Tyler, the Creator’s new “pride” t-shirt? Let us know in the comments section below and on Twitter!