Die Antwoord: selected videography (pt. 2)


Dear Matt:


Alright. So, here’s how I approached this. When I fired up your playlist, I decided to just let it run, and resist the urge to Google everything. I figured, let’s just allow this to be a pure encounter, informed only by a half-remembered read of your assignment four busy days ago. I’ll just hit the fullscreen button, let Die Antwoord flow through me unmediated, and scribble down a few notes as I go.

Those notes look like the hastily scrawled confessions of a hallucinating trainspotter. It is a testament to the alienating weirdness of Die Antwoord that I appear to have descended into a dissociative state about midway through your playlist.

Honestly, I am as baffled by this music now as I was last night when I listened to it, and I’m spinning my wheels here because I don’t know what to say. I feel like I’m missing a huge chunk of the context for this, and I’m pissed off at Die Antwoord because I’m certain this is by design.

I have one potentially interesting thought, and it is about the tiring question of whether or not any of this is real. One of the many questions I posed to my future self in my scribblings on this viewing was “are those real scorpions?” That is, of course, regarding the video for “Fok Julle Naaiers,” on which Ninja raps: “Next time you ask me is it real, I’m gonna punch you in the face.”

Trouble is, with the way that Die Antwoord present themselves, “Is it real?” is a worthwhile question that everybody’s obviously going to be asking, as regards both the scorpions and the band itself. This is a move that’s been pulled before. It’s a classic Glass Onion — you bait your audience with deliberately cryptic art, then you mock them for trying too hard.

There was a time when I would have had the patience for this. Maybe sometime I will again. Don’t get me wrong: there were plenty of moments when I could barely pull myself away from the screen to make notes. But, it’s late and I’m frustrated and right now I kind of feel the same way about this that I do about the Stockhausen I used to listen to in high school: cut the performance art bullshit and make some goddamn music.

I take no pleasure in disliking things. It makes me feel ignorant. This one will require a revisit.

— Matthew


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