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Naziploitation in Visual-kei

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As I'm sure many of you know, Nazi paraphernalia is often a common element in older visual-kei dress, especially in proto-visual-kei punk / thrash bands. I was thinking of writing a blog post on the subject but I'd like to get some other opinions and bit more solid information on the subject. I'm not really sure how to approach the topic, so I guess I'll write a list of questions about it and you guys can answer them if you so wish, or just add your own input.

1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

I'll give my own opinions after a few other people respond first.

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I always just saw any Nazi/fascist/political paraphernalia as being a shock/edgy/ironical factor - its like when black metal bands put pictures of burning churches and inverted crosses/Satanic imagery on their album covers and videos. Most (note that I say MOST) of those bands aren't really Satanist/Christian killers or anything, they just do it to be scary and fit the intensity of the music. Western punk bands in the 70's/80's used to do similar stuff - heck, Sid Vicious wore that swastika T-shirt for a while, but I think their is evidence contrary that he was a Nazi supporter. A LOT of old visual kei bands were Sex Pistols/Vicious fans too, so they may just be imitating their idols? Visual kei is similar; it is (or at least it originally was) about pushing the boundaries of expression in their culture - a swastika armband is making a statement or it wouldn't be there. I doubt it is something taken lightly in mainstream Japan, even if it is somehow "less offensive."

Though they are not visual kei - I think a good example is from a quote from a Japanese punk band who called themselves "The Stalin." Michiro Endo chose the name because "Stalin is a very hated person and it would be good for our image."

I think if bands have a message to convey at all it is better than nothing. I think if they can write a good song about the wars, sex, crime, religion, or culture and it actually means something to them besides "lets scare old ladies" than I'm fine with it.

Anyways that's all my thoughts on it. ^^

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although the nazi-theme might be a little delicate i think it still is only about aesthetics

(maybe with a littel edgy/offend touch, but still).

probably the same way as i highly doubt that the members of versailles are fierce supporters of the early 17th [edit] century french politics...

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but these things don't shock anymore. you just look like you have no idea what you are doing with the nazi stuff

or lame with the burning crosses stuff

it's like people have run out of ideas how to shock others. nothing shocks anyone , anymore.

seriously people have to find new ways to be different or radical.

there is nothing new or radical anymore

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^ Yes, it has been overrused to the point where it becomes an annoying cliche/joke (like in black metal), but that is still the intent.

Maybe NOW it is seen that way, but back in the day anything "extreme" would really rile up people. Heck, that's why labels like Free-Will and Extasy came into existance in the first place, because major Japanese labels couldn't handle what they offered. Now any ol' visual band can go "major" - but then again today most visual kei has sorta toned down into easier to digest "alternative bishie boybands."

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Sure, it might offend some people, but I think when VK bands choose that look, they mainly use it for some kind of visual storytelling. In that case, it doesn't really matter to me. The nazi party did have rather good-looking uniforms, after all. I only really come to dislike it once they put some political message into it all, which would be a ridiculous move.

As much as I dislike fascism and the nazi party itself, nowadays it doesn't have as big of an impact as in the 20th century. As many of you stated already, it's been overused quite a bit in the 80's and 90's.

The really sad part about it all, though, is the fact, that the current generation of neo-nazis doesn't have the slightest idea of what really happened back then. I know that, since I live in Germany and I have to deal with these retards rather often, to say the least.

Also, I'm very sure that most Japanese nazi-image VK bands have a lot more historical knowledge about it than most neo nazis over here. Sounds illogical, but it's just like that.

Bah, my head doesn't work properly right now. Excuse me if I'm being a bit unclear.

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One of the reasons I am not very keen on sharing my interest in Visual Kei is I don't even want to imagine trying to explain the Nazi themed costumes to my Jewish friends and family. Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaah...awkward. Anyway, Number Girl sums it all up pretty well.

The nazi party did have rather good-looking uniforms, after all.

Interesting bit of trivia but I'm too lazy to find the source but their uniforms where intentionally designed to look good and The Nazi Party had commissioned Hugo Boss to design and produce their uniforms. Hugo Boss still exists and they mainly create classy business suits now. ;)

Also, I'm very sure that most Japanese nazi-image VK bands have a lot more historical knowledge about it

I don't know about that, I bet most just did it because Sugizo did it first and they're all a bunch of fanboys lol.

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The nazi party did have rather good-looking uniforms

I hate nazism and facism... but I have to agree, they had a good fashion sense. Well, I don't care honestly... and I don't feel offended because it's not that they're neo-nazi, they just want (as you said) to shock people ^^'

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Well, instead of just saying Numbergirl is right like most people have so far (I believe we shall share opinions?) even though she actually is, I will share my 2 cents.

1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

Yeah, wearing outfits like that in for example Sweden or different european countries would make people go crazy, however I believe it has been used earlier in underground scenes.

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

Nah.

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

It is not done to propose the message of the nazis, only to shock people. And yes, I do believe the only ones still being offended and/or shocked by this are indeed western fans, even though the use of nazi symbols and lyrics have decreased in the visual scene.

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

I think it's alright as long as you are not a nazi, and story telling of japanese soldiers (or any soldier for that matter) is lectual and most of the times actually fun to listen/read about so I don't really mind it.

EDIT: And yeah, their uniforms did indeed look good.

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I suppose that "angura nationalism" has nothing to do with this topic :o

Also, I am not caring that much about vk naziploitation miracles anymore - Why?

Because:

In my hoods/city, no one gives a fuck about swastika-bandages and stuff like that (since we lived under the rule of iron cross as well!)...unless you step into the immigrant hoodlums.

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Yep, going to echo the major comment in this topic.

That most of these musicians doing it for shock value.

Nothing or at least little to do with one political views.

Unless maybe you're a sharp minded like Marilyn Manson

who put symbols into their music and let their more sharp minded fans figure the real things out.

Though i don't say VK cannot do such things but rarely, as most of it are all about the looks, period.

However, though majorly we knew most VK bands, either the whole band or one of the member

may at least fell into this bandwagon once in their career.

I mean seriously, Even DEG. --> 1 2 3

Dressing with Nazi elements on their outfits is not VK monopoly.

I think there is also Western bands and Asian (non Japanese) bands that also interested with it.

Say, Slipknot for the easiest example. especially during their Iowa era.

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In my hoods/city, no one gives a fuck about swastika-bandages and stuff like that (since we lived under the rule of iron cross as well!)...unless you step into the immigrant hoodlums.

"Lived un the rule of iron cross"?

Dude, you're 17 years old, you never lived "under the iron cross", and I am pretty sure most of the ones who actually would be offended by this are old people who lived during WWII.

EDIT: Please note "most of the offended", I know there are young/middle aged people who also would find it offensive.

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In my hoods/city, no one gives a fuck about swastika-bandages and stuff like that (since we lived under the rule of iron cross as well!)...unless you step into the immigrant hoodlums.

"Lived un the rule of iron cross"?

Dude, you're 17 years old, you never lived "under the iron cross", and I am pretty sure most of the ones who actually would be offended by this are old people who lived during WWII.

EDIT: Please note "most of the offended", I know there are young/middle aged people who also would find it offensive.

Pardon? I am not 17 - I take that as an insult to my address

We were on the same side with the iron cross-folks just for the sake of saving our asses

Ah, right - foreign history books never handled the history about Finland's and Germany's early co-operation in details - but that's just irrelevant

Feel free to talk about this in the other place --->

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it's to call the attention in an ironical way.

the swastika for sintoists means good luck or life, so it's obviously sarcasm, since nazis were not so in favour of life (remember the holocaust...? XP ).

if i was jewish i wouldn't get offended, i'll take it as funny paraphernalia.

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Unless maybe you're a sharp minded like Marilyn Manson

who put symbols into their music and let their more sharp minded fans figure the real things out.

THIS! He's done it in an ingenious way!

For VK bands it's seems more like a fashion statement to me to be honest. Sure, it's edgy etc. but it's rarely really shocking.

For her most recent PV (J-Pop-)singer Koda Kumi wore a cap that said "Volksmarine" and apparently some people felt really offended by that (even though it didn't really have something to do with WWII but with the DDR). Haven't heard anything like that about VK-bands O.o

And about the questions:

1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

Of course. I won't even try to imagine the uproar that would be caused it someone here would wear something like that.

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

Not really.

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

As I said before it seems to be nothing more than a fashion statement to me, at least for most bands.

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

Well there are certainly some ways how you should NOT do it but as long as it isn't used to convey some sort of Nazi propaganda or make them look like it's a good thing, it's alright I guess.

Though this only applies to bands outside of Germany (or maybe Europe as well), because that would be inappropriate in every way.

There's a reason why we have laws against this here.

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O! forgot these questions, sorry:

1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

Well, i think they do.

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

No. Well i take them wearing it to achieve something appearance wise. So not at all.

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

Ditto point #22

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

They could do and wear anything, in the name of art.

either what they doing are purely for the looks or indeed have some hidden message in it.

As long as not voicing negative message like some hate groups doing.

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1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

1. Yes, they seem to have little idea/regard of how triggering a uniform, swastika or similar could be to survivors or families of.

2. Kind of. It's a stupid way of using ~shock tactics~ that could offend people. I lost distant relatives in the holocaust but given that it only happened 60~70 years ago, there's still people around who lost close relatives/survivors.

3. I don't think the bands are smart enough to realise the message behind a SS uniform or a swastika, no. It's just to show that you're one step more ~edgier~ than other bands, or just copying western far-right metal/punk bands.

4. I don't know enough to comment/it would have to be a case-by-case thing.

probably the same way as i highly doubt that the members of versailles are fierce supporters of the early 17th [edit] century french politics...

did you really just compare wearing a overblown stereotypical pre-revolution france outfit to a Nazi uniform? Because 1) anyone effected by the french revolution would be long dead and there's still Holocaust survivors today and 2) a Nazi uniform is a symbol of an ideology which attempted to exterminate a race. A cheap ~french noble~ or marie-antoinette costume conjures up images of opulence and glamour. Nothing like a holocaust.

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1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

1. Yes.

2. No, I probably should be but nope.

3. I don't think it's political at all, at least not in VK. In VK it's just because Sugizo was one of the first to popularize the outfit and so all his fanboys followed suit. I kind of laugh at the idea of a Visual Kei band being political, I just don't believe it haha. I also tend to hate most political music anyway so I really don't want to imagine that wailing pink hair drag queen is trying to make a political statement.

World War II is still a touchy subject in Asia but I am not an expert on the issue over there. However China in particular is not that thrilled with how Japanese history books seem to just kind of skim over what Japan had done during the war, especially Nanking with some books said to simply leave it out altogether. Many Japanese youth seem to be completely oblivious to what has happened and many elderly deny it or down play it. My sources are from what I have read on the BBC so I don't know how bias the reporting is and I'm too lazy to pull up specific articles. However, I am pretty sure EVERY country skims over some of the terrible things they have done through out history and the US is not exempt from this either. China is probably guilty of rewriting their own history, being China afterall and all the political controversies it faces now. However it seems they just like to give Japan a hard time about it, possibly trying to divert attention away from their own domestic political issues. Regardless those feelings of anger are still very much alive in China, my boyfriend is Chinese and while he's not bothered by the past his parents weren't that thrilled to find out he is dating a girl who's father is Japanese hahahaha!

Anyway I'm kind of rambling now.

4. I used too and still do to some extent use WWII imagery in my artwork, I don't use Nazi imagery because that's boring, incredibly overdone and just cliche.

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it's to call the attention in an ironical way.

the swastika for sintoists means good luck or life, so it's obviously sarcasm, since nazis were not so in favour of life (remember the holocaust...? XP ).

if i was jewish i wouldn't get offended, i'll take it as funny paraphernalia.

This thread has come up recently before, but have the same opinion now. First, it's a Buddhist symbol not shinto or 'sintoist?' When VK bands wear it I find zero obvious sarcasm, rather just a tacky fashion sense at the expense of the memory of millions of people who died. And what a shitty image to try to be sarcastic about?? It's not clever or thought provoking. In Buddhism it is a lucky symbol and has been used for ages, but their meaning is obviously clear when they're wearing it accompanied by german military uniform.. I'm not offended by it as much as I feel sorry for the ignorant people who think wearing it is ok, especially involving trend for Japanese to ignore their past and crimes in WWII.

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i don't care if they wear it because i know the reason they do it but..

i don't think they should wear it though because without the shocking factor

(that obviously isn't working anymore, so you can't annoy people or provoke them with this)

they just look like ignorant morons who only care about fashion

and can't even be original but they are cute or hot though

and personally i don't find nazi uniforms is something that makes you good looking

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Also, I'm very sure that most Japanese nazi-image VK bands have a lot more historical knowledge about it

I don't know about that, I bet most just did it because Sugizo did it first and they're all a bunch of fanboys lol.

Since I grew up in a village with a TON of neo-nazis, I am pretty sure that most of them didn't really know what happened back then (or they just deny it, dunno) - I talked to a few of them, and they were really damn unsure about what they said. Some of them even said the Holocaust was a fake, and that really, really shocked me. That's why I said that most bands utilising that image know more about it than a great deal of neo-nazis here in Germany, at least when it comes to those in rural areas. It's weird to encounter people like that, when you're a well-educated person and have to listen to their braintastic diarrhea for about half an hour. It drives you mad, haha.

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I just talked about this topic with a friend of mine, and found this old thread, so here we go:

 

1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

Yes, definitely. They don't seem to have much of a problem with it, really.

 

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

I'm not really offended by it, but only because I've seen it two many times. I know a lot of other people, though, who are/would be VERY offended. When I tell ppl about nazi imagery in VK bands they usually do not quite believe me (or they don't even want to see it because they think it's so horrible.) Most would see it as a reason to stop listening to a band alltogether, no matter their intentions.

 

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

I'm very sure there is no underlying political agenda (if I tought there was, I would be veeery offended.) I think they mostly lack education on the topic and, yes, they definitely want to be edgy by using the crimes of nazi Germany for shock value, which is upsetting on so many levels.

 

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not? (Example: Malice Mizer waving the flag of the old empire during shows to tell a story from the view point of a Japanese soldier, the use of old WWII uniforms as costumes, etc)

I'm, understandably, not a fan. Fetishising nazi uniforms, or using nazi culture as a fashion statement is a product of pure ignorance for the pain that many people suffered. Japan was part of World War II- why are these people (who don't share the believes of neo-nazis) using nazi symbols as if they meant nothing? The probable answer is that they a ) don't think about it and b ) that they are pretty much desensiized because in their culture, it's not that big of an issue. I blame these people for putting no thought into what they are wearing (and what they are unconsciously promoting) , but I blame the system for these peoples' lack of education on the topic.

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1.) Do you feel that the Japanese culture views this imagery differently from how Occidental cultures do?

Obviously. See my reply to a quote below.

2.) Are you personally offended by it?

Nah. People today get offended by every little thing and THAT's what I find offensive.

3.) Do you feel it is done to convey the same messages as 1930's and 40's political propaganda? Or is it more of an edgy thing that is much less frowned upon in that culture than it is for Western fans?

There's no way they're even thinking about conveying any kind of political message. It's definitely just an edgy thing, or just a theme thing like in Diaura's case. Not all military uniforms are solely related to WWII. Asia has had their own history with dictatorships, military governments and such and probably have historical facts related to  a uniform that are far more important to them than Germany's nazis. 

4.) What's your opinions on using other WWII imagery, be it based on the Nazi party or not?

Why the hell not? It's a part of our history as mankind and if Hollywood can produce a shitload of movies about WWII I don't see why bands can't inspire themselves on it for lyrics and such. Most of those band kids probably aren't smart enough to think about stating a bad message on purpose.

 

On 10/8/2011 at 11:39 PM, Number Girl said:

a swastika armband is making a statement or it wouldn't be there. I doubt it is something taken lightly in mainstream Japan

It's called a manji and I saw a lot of it while in Japan. Google Maps even uses it as a symbol for "temple". It is taken lightly in mainstream Japan because it always has, it was used there before the Germans gave it another meaning.

 

Now, manji + uniforms it's most definitely a Nazi reference.

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