The Null Device

When ironic hair-metal retro no longer cuts it...

They do things differently in Hong Kong: a fashion shop has decided to stir up some controversy with a line of Nazi-themed merchandise. Izzue, which may be their equivalent of Dangerfield or Hot Topic or Violence Jack Off or something like that, also decorated their stores with Nazi banners and symbols:
Red banners with white swastikas on top of iron crosses hung Saturday from the ceilings of some of the firm's 14 stores. The banners also carried a sign that resembled the symbol of the Third Reich: an eagle above a swastika. One branch broadcast Nazi propaganda films on a wall with a projector.

This isn't the first time Nazi symbolism has been used to get attention in Asia; some years ago, a Taipei restaurant covered their walls with images of Holocaust victims and a bar named the Third Reich, replete with Nazi propaganda posters and uniformed waitresses, opened in Seoul. Perhaps over there, the whole Nazi thing is seen by some as just kitschy retro exotica?

There are 10 comments on "When ironic hair-metal retro no longer cuts it...":

Posted by: mitch http:// Mon Aug 11 10:03:44 2003

As I recall, in *The Ends of the Earth* Robert Kaplan describes visiting a Thai bar and seeing a girl who dresses as Khmer Rouge in order to be sexy. But then Nazi uniforms are apparently a standard part of the Western fetish scene, and sexuality is notoriously a domain in which forbidden things are done. It's a little more mysterious to see traumatic historical events referenced like this in the banal context of public commercialism. But it probably is as simple as this - our history is not their history, our reference points are not theirs, and vice versa. For them, the Holocaust is just one of many bad things that happened long ago and far away, and not an event pivotal to their whole worldview. Perhaps a mainland Chinese would find it incomprehensible that Billy Bragg could write a cheery song about "the Great Leap Forward", which was actually disastrous for China.

Posted by: mark Mon Aug 11 10:49:07 2003

Like how stuff from Stalinist Russia appeals to many people in the West, I suppose.

Posted by: dj http:// Mon Aug 11 11:29:08 2003

Yeah, i think you've both got it just about right. Another one is non-US people using the General Lee flag without having any real idea of what it means in the US.

Posted by: Graham Mon Aug 11 15:33:12 2003

Don't forget all that Che crap.

Posted by: Karen http:// Mon Aug 11 18:41:00 2003

Well, this certainly goes several steps beyond the "ethnically derogatory clothing" of Abercrombie & Fitch:

"We personally thought Asians would love this T-shirt." -Hampton Carney, A&F spokesperson

The HK and Seoul Nazi-themed commercial ventures would be analagous to A&F starting a "comfort-woman" line, and a Hard Rock-offshoot "comfort women bar". I find it hard to believe that these particular HK and Korean business people did not realize the significance of the Holocaust.

Posted by: mark Tue Aug 12 05:07:46 2003

Indeed, it might've been useful for A&F to actually *ask* Asian people what they thought of it first.

(What are "comfort women"? Sheltered life...)

Posted by: Graham Tue Aug 12 08:52:09 2003

Heh. If Arthur Calwell were alive, he'd sue A&F.

Posted by: michael Tue Aug 12 15:14:19 2003

Ahh, Nostalgia! Everything old is new again!

Just keep buying this stuff, eventually all meaning will be drained out of it, and replaced by corporate propaganda. Come to think of it, this has happened before, hasnt it

Posted by: acb Tue Aug 12 15:25:05 2003

And what does that have to do with the thread?

Actually, Michael, have you thought about starting your own blog?

Posted by: Karen http:// Tue Aug 12 18:46:09 2003


"Comfort women are the young females of various ethnic and national backgrounds and social circumstances who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during the Second World War."

Perhaps my suggestion was wrong, after all.