Saturday, June 23, 2012

Zef and Poshlust - Die Antwoord and R. Kelly

My old Russian professor was once attempting to explain the concept of poshlust' to us and through Soviet dentures and style of lecture better classified as informative rambling, she failed. Entirely.
This led a brave freshmen asking if it was like zef, a South African word to describe the qualities of the consciously low class. Our professor not understanding asked for further explanation and was given Enter the Ninja by Die Antwoord a South African self proclaimed zef group that showers itself in a kitsch and white trash persona. Here's the video.

After a minute the Russian emigre had enough and proudly rounded her lips to convey every shade of the initial nasal sound in 'no.'
After a second attempt to explain involving a Nabokov quote -

"Corny trash, vulgar clichés, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic and dishonest pseudo-literature"

Here the young girls courage swelled again and with her manual extremities skyward inquired its relationship with R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet.

For those who don't know, Trapped in the Closet is rapper R. Kelly's bizarre attempt at combining rap and opera to create a hip-hopera. Through a cliche ridden story, poor acting, no concept of was an opera actually is, and the use of a SINGLE beat THROUGH THE ENTIRE 2 plus hours, he fails.

Needless to say, our professor refused to be led to YouTube's dark clutches a second time, but I believe the girl was almost correct.

Poshlust' is used by an author to make a character unlikable often foil a protagonist. R. Kelly manages to supersede poshlust' by making an entire feat or nothing but. By having the story be based solely on adultery with flat characters and absolutely no character development he made us hate them all. Trapped in the Closet chaotically oozes poshlust' with no foils whatsoever.

So why am I discussing this with zef. Let's review.

  • Poshlust' is a flat character acting with aggressive philistinism, who try to appear intelligent.
  • Zef is a normally flat character acting with aggressive kitsch and ignorance who want to appear kitsch and ignorant.
Zef acts as the hyperbolic parody to poshlust'. Poshlust' characters speak in cliches, listen to some Die Antwoord lyrics, which are actually cliches.

"you can't do this, you can't do that. Who said so?"
"I do my own thing...Maybe I answer, Maybe I'm busy."
"getting closer to God...I flow from the heart."
"Yippee ki yay."
"Why is your (dick) so big. All the better to love you with."
"I know what you're never gonna get it."

Or choruses of

"I don't need you" "Rich Bitch" "Wat kyk jy (What you looking at)"

Everything zef is both kitsch, consciously low-class, tawdry and also incredibly random. Any feeling of sensibility is lost to a combination of kitschy gimmicks and self imposed Dadaism. So I want to expand zef to all those shows and music videos that are baffling, but must be seen, not hilarious, but hypnotizing. And while Die Antwoord is certainly a prototypical example, with this re-appropriation of nomenclature we can give a classification to some work by

Odd Future

Das Racist

And literally everything by Leslie Hall

(All of these video have at least 1,000,000 views)

And Williams Street

The adventures of fries, a milkshake, and uncooked meat for example

12 oz. Mouse

China, IL

I pronounce all these zef.

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