Macklemore

On Friday night, Macklemore played a show at the EMP Museum in his hometown of Seattle, and he wore a thrown-together costume that looked, for all the world, like an offensive Jewish stereotype. He attempted to refute the idea on Twitter (“A fake witches nose, wig, and beard = random costume. Not my idea of a stereotype of anybody”), but the story wouldn’t go away. So now Macklemore has taken to his website to write a longer explanation of what happened, from his perspective, claiming that “the character I dressed up as on Friday had no intended cultural identity or background.” By way of sort-of apologizing he offers the classic equivocating “I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended” and stops just short of describing himself as the victim of a sensationalized media campaign. Here’s what he wrote:

Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended.

On Friday night we had a surprise show at the EMP Museum in Seattle. Earlier in the day I thought it would be fun to dress up in a disguise and go incognito to the event, so that I could walk around unnoticed and surprise the crowd with a short performance. I picked up a bunch of fake mustaches and beards and grabbed a left over wig from our recent trip to Japan.

As it turns out the fake noses they sell at the costume store are usually big (my nose didn’t fit most of them). So I ended up with a big witch nose. I went with a black beard, because that’s the furthest color from my natural hair. Disguise was the intention. I personally thought I looked very ambiguous in terms of any “type” of person. Some people there thought I looked like Ringo, some Abe Lincoln. If anything I thought I looked like Humpty Hump with a bowl cut.

We showed up to the event, I hit the stage in the outfit, rocked two songs, took pictures and went home. We had a great time and it was fun to be a surprise guest in a costume. I’ve always loved dressing up and have been doing so my entire career. The character I dressed up as on Friday had no intended cultural identity or background. I wasn’t attempting to mimic any culture, nor resemble one. A “Jewish stereotype” never crossed my mind.

My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic. I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature. I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee the costume to be viewed in such regard. I’m saddened that this story, or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity.

I will let my body of work and the causes for which I’ve supported speak for themselves. I hope that anyone who may question my intent take a few moments to discover the human and artist that I strive to be. I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and… happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.

I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended. I hope this better explains the situation and my point of view.

With love,

Ben

PS – Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I’ve got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do: http://www.adl.org

(via Macklemore’s site)

Once again: “Sorry if you were offended” never reads quite the same as simply “Sorry.”

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Comments (15)
  1. “Once again: “Sorry if you were offended” never reads quite the same as simply “Sorry.”

    uh, number 1, he did lay out a pretty sincere apology, i feel like you didn’t really read the statement, just jumped to the conclusion this guy was an asshole and ran with it.

    number 2, this ongoing story is so fucking stupid i almost feel like it causes head trauma just reading about it. i guarantee if nobody had started up the jewish thing, nobody would have looked at that costume as anti semitic. it is clearly a fake nose slapped together with a beard. so fucking what? since the solange/jay z thing quieted down this is the drivel we have to deal with? isn’t there anything else we can read on this site, or pitchfork, or consequence, or any of them without having to wade through all this bullshit?

    i’m going to listen some fucking music and plot out my future visit to fun fun fun fest and hopefully this us magazine light crap will disappear from this site.

    • While I agree it would be nice to focus on the music, the belief (which I’ve seen all over) that this isn’t an obviously, if probably unintentional, racist costume demonstrates just how little knowledge of history we have as a culture.

      A simple GIS for “nazi jewish propaganda” demonstrates why people are upset. Intentional or not, he looks *exactly* like the depictions of Jewish people in those posters. That’s not okay.

    • I agree it’s a stupid non-story, that it was clearly unintentional, and that it’s probably gotten more press than it deserves. And I agree that this is more of an apology apology than a non apology. Macklemore sort of has to do the “sorry if you were offended” thing because he legit didn’t know what he was doing. But this letter doesn’t have the tone of “I basically see no problem with what I did but some people didn’t like it so sorry I guess?” that these letters usually have. He seems genuine.

      THAT BEING SAID, I’ve heard multiple people say “if no one said the Jewish thing, no one would have found it anti semitic” and that’s frankly total horseshit. He looks EXACTLY like a grotesque Jewish caricature. If you can’t see that it’s on you.

  2. It’s that easy these days? Well, then…

    Sorry to Tom if you were offended that I made fun of dad marijuana use even though I’m not a dad and haven’t smoked a tree in my life.
    Sorry to Damian from Fucked Up if you were offended for the same reason above.
    Sorry to Chris Deville if you were offended that I made fun of your pop column because the Ariana Grande song isn’t as good as people say it is but that’s just my opinion.
    Sorry to the guy who wrote the SDRE Diary anniversary piece if you were offended that I hadn’t bothered to Google your by-line beforehand because that would be too easy.
    Sorry to the chick who writes the “TV Party” column if you were offended that I never visited Videogum when it was alive to see your writing there just like people have no idea I write.
    Sorry to raptorjesus if you were offended when I made fun of your excitement the night the My Bloody Valentine album dropped even though I’m a sad sap.
    Sorry to all the people who comment using their facebook posts if you were offended when I posted pics of you and your (now ex-)girlfriends even though I’m perpetually single and haven’t even gotten hugged by a woman in 5 years.
    Sorry to ferns, Michael Hanna and cerebrus if you were offended because I exist.
    Sorry to Dylan from Cloud Nothings if you were offended because I lose my filter when I’m in a bad mood and that has nothing to do with you.
    Sorry to the guy from Greys if you were offended when I bandwagoned someone else’s comment for calling you pretentious even though I’ve never met you.
    Sorry to the chick from Speedy Ortiz if you were offended when I bandwagoned someone else’s comment for calling the guy in Greys pretentious and mentioning you are labelmates even though I’ve never met you.
    Sorry to Scott at Stereogum if you were offended that I overly criticized your site’s business goals even though my career is stagnant.
    Sorry to everyone else reading if you were offended by this comment and are going to downvote it

  3. galb  |   Posted on May 20th +3

    That thing where you have a trip to Japan and then still have left over wigs from that trip

  4. Well played Macklemore… Well played..

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with his apology. I believe him when he said it was unintentional. Seriously, he does look like Ringo Starr with a big ass nose.

    Now we can move on….

  6. I don’t think I’m going to read an apology that is that long and was written by this guy.

    911…bush knocked down the towers— Macklemore (@macklemore) September 18, 2009

    The only 420 I really remember was the Columbine massacre…..and that really ruined everyone's high. Bad day.— Macklemore (@macklemore) April 21, 2012

    I'll never forget getting superrr high with hella people, turning on the TV and watching Columbine coverage live on CNN. #420buzzkill #sad— Macklemore (@macklemore) April 20, 2011

    I'm so happy right now. No homo…I love new york! Pause. I'm so not gay! Fuck yea. And I'm so secure in that!— Macklemore (@macklemore) May 19, 2009

  7. He says “There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended” – then immediately proceeds to list two things that are just as bad, if not worse. WHO’S THE REAL VICTIM HERE??

  8. Yeah, he didn’t say “sorry if you were offended”. He said “I truly apologize to anybody I may have offended”. There’s a big difference there. Should he have looked in the mirror first? sure. I believe him when he says it was a mistake, and to say I truly apologize TO (not if) those who were offended. that sounds like a real apology.

  9. Dude just admits he didn’t think about it, acknowledges that yes, his outfit does have very dubious connotations, and apologizes to anybody he offended (not apologizes ‘if you were offended’). Aside from opening the entire spiel with the apology itself, I can’t think of anything more he could have done.

    This way way better than that hyper defensive Sky Ferreira bullshit the other week. That is what ‘sorry I’m not sorry’ looks like. This one is pretty sincere. Good job, Macklemore.

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