• Mon, May 19 - 2:17 pm ET

Macklemore Performs In A Stereotypical Jewish Costume, Has No Idea Why People Are Offended

Macklemore Black And White

Macklemore performed in Seattle on Friday night donning, what many people find to be, a super offensive amalgam of Jewish stereotypes. “Isn’t this the year 2014, where we should absolutely know better than to do something so stupid and offensive?” you ask. Yes, we should. But, according to the internet and to my very own eyes, Macklemore doesn’t yet.

Yes, that is a prosthetic nose, beard, and wig that you’re looking at him wear, as he performs his song, “Thrift Shop”. (Do I even need to make the connection to the stereotype that Jewish people are cheap, or are you good with that one on your own?) The most generous person could say that the costume doesn’t explicitly scream, “Look, I’m making fun of Jewish people!!” But, honestly, this is all pretty incriminating. Except, according to Macklemore, he didn’t even mean for the costume full of all of those traditionally Jewish stereotypes to come off as stereotypical. Silly us, right?

This reminds me of that time that Miley Cyrus made clearly antisemitic remarks and then tried to make us feel like it was just in our minds. I take issue with the idea that we’re all just being whiny little sensitive babies.

I consider it one of Macklemore’s greatest responsibilities as a very public figure (who is lauded for promoting acceptance, no less) to be as sensitive as possible. If not to set a decent example for people who may emulate him, then at least to discourage the further normalization of insensitive behavior. Of course, we can’t stop everyone in the world from being culturally offensive; but why should we stand for our pop stars behaving that way? We at least have a say in that, no?

So, no, he isn’t mockingly wearing a kippah or a Star of David. And as far as I know, he’s cool with Hannukah (and it’s multiple spellings). But if so many people are offended by his ridic costume, then I think that an apology for that is in order. Also, maybe the addition of a “No” Man to his team to tell him when he needs to simmer down and avoid a stroll down Anti-Semitic Lane.

(GIF: Tumblr)

You can reach this post's author, Olivia Wilson, on twitter.
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  • Alexis Rhiannon

    Again — do none of these celebrities have friends? People who tell them no? I don’t get it.

    • Olivia Wilson

      I assumed that that was Ryan Lewis’ job but I GUESS NOT.

    • Jenni

      Exactly! Even if Macklemore didn’t see the resemblance, someone else most certainly did.

  • Nbl

    I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, this is just as bad as black face and the outrage that follows those incidents needs to be at the same level for this. Nothing about this stereotypical characterization has ever been used for entertainment purposes. This sketch of what a Jew supposedly looks like was used to spread hate and murder. For someone who is lauded as a beacon of tolerance, Macklemore made a HUGE misstep and the fact that he hasn’t apologized for it makes the whole ugly incident worse in my opinion. I was never a huge fan of this man. Now I will never be.

    • Olivia Wilson

      I agree. I can’t see why he would think this sort of costume would be okay.

    • Dee

      Seth Rogen? Would that be the same Seth Rogen who once told Terry Gross’s NPR that there are “not a lot of hot Jews”, concurring with his friend Evan Goldberg’s statement that “Usually the Jew gene brings you down a notch” [in terms of looks].

      The difference between Seth Rogen and Macklemore is that Rogen is a repeat offender with an audience of millions, as opposed to Macklemore, who dressed up once for a private show and didn’t even mention Jews. Oh, and Rogen has presumed credibility on this, since he’s Jewish himself.

      And what about you, mainstream media? The media seems to delight in printing that rotund Jewish comedians like Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill are Jewish. But they don’t seem to show any enthusiasm whatsoever for printing that attractive Jewish actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Logan Lerman are Jewish (in fact, in the about 5 years that he’s been somewhat famous, mainstream publications have mentioned that Lerman is Jewish exactly zero [0] times. You’d think he was grown on a tree in California, instead of being the grandson of Holocaust refugees on both sides of his family, which is what he is).

    • Nbl

      What the hell are you talking about?

    • Olivia Wilson

      I, too, would like to know.

    • markmywords

      Hate and murder? Would you mind to elaborate for the simple minded?

    • Nbl

      Of course. The characterization of the hooked nosed, bearded Jew was a staple of the Nazi propaganda machine. This image was indoctrinated into a society that became complicit with the Holocaust. I know most said they didn’t know but the western powers knew full well by 1942 and there were many Germans that were trying to spread the truth but were ignored. Many of those who “didn’t know”, took over the abandoned homes and shops and refused to return it to the Jews who returned home after the war. A lot of German officers and ex SS members are still very unapologetic about the actions they perpetrated. They blamed the Jews on Germany’s loss of the First World War and the depression that followed. Some that even admitted to shooting women and children at point blank range are mind boggling laid back about the whole thing. If you want a really good example of this, watch “Aushwitz; Inside the Nazi State” on Netflix. As to how that image was used to spread hate and murder, google Nazi childern books and you’ll see an almost exact image of ths “costume” used to illustrate the “sneaky and untrustful” Jew. I hope that helped. :)

    • markmywords

      Wow, thanks alot. :) Wow, because frankly I did not expect this kind of answer. Now I feel dumb for asking. You’re right with everything you said, every least bit of it. How do I know? I live in Europe (sorry, no Netflix) and had to learn about the Holocaust in each and every semester of my school years. Also, I went to several concentration camps with my school. Haunting experiences, let me tell you. Nobody walked out dry eyed. I think nobody could ever forget what they saw, read and grasped about where they were standing.

      About people not knowing about deportations, it’s established that people didnt want to know. Nobody cared, nobody asked and if someone dared to ask, peer pressure put them in line. And yes, they killed the jewish (and other) people and took all of their belongings. There is a german saying that goes something like “Never look a gift horse in the mouth” and this would fit in the mindset of not asking questions if someone happens to give you something for free.

      But – and please don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no intentions of offending you – this happened at least three generations ago and while it is very important to know about history, I wonder if the propganda of a different time and a different place could have the same effects today.
      With all my background I shared with you, didn’t think of the portrayal of a jewish person at all. This costume reminded me of an aquaintance from the middle east, who’s muslim.
      To be clear, I understand now why a jewish person would feel offended by Macklemore’s costume and why they would feel threatened. He definetely should apologize.

    • Nbl

      I’m not offended. You were very clear and eloquent in your explanation and I find no fault in that. It strikes me as very offensive on two fronts. The first being that I am Jewish and second being I’m a history major. I get what your saying about different times and different reactions but to me that’s just a heartbreaking excuse. People know the bare bones about the Holocaust but as the years pass that understanding and horror is diminished. I love the fact that your school took you to those camps. It gives you a true understanding of the crimes committed there. Being an American I haven’t been but I’m only second generation American and my grandmother’s sisters and their children died at the death camp in Triblinka so I don’t think I could actually go without a major emotional breakdown. I think it’s important to remember these illustrations as well as their impact. Goebbels (a man I hate more than Hitler) was a master of propaganda. Hitler never came out and said “let’s all kill the Jews!”. His first mention of them was poorly received by the German public and he wouldn’t mention them again until the Nurember Laws. He even had the camps located outside of Germany as not to upset people. But the reason so many people refused to see what was going on and why they accepted those laws was because of things like those illustrations. They’re important because they show how a people can be turned against their fellow men and committed terrible atrocities. So while I understand the reasoning behind changing viewpoints it’s important to remember where it can lead. To me that’s the true tragedy, that we can forget that even something as harmless as a child’s story book can snowball into tragedy.

    • FauxRealFaux

      Not sure you can compare this costume to black face.

    • Nbl

      Why not?

    • FauxRealFaux

      Blackface is painfully obvious that the intended targets are those of African descent. Macklemore’s costume is up for interpretation and you can’t say for a fact that he is dressed like a European Jew.

    • Nbl

      I disagree. The beard and hook nose are trademarks of the vilification of the Jew. To me, as a Jew, it’s not up for interpretation. But if you’re going to go with that argument than you can say that Julianna Hough’s Halloween costume wasn’t offensive.

    • FauxRealFaux

      That’s your opinion. Julianna stated that she was dressed like the actor from Orange is the New Black ( a black woman). Unfortunately, her ensemble came across as blackface, and it is beyond reasonable for people to take offense that. I thought she looked like an orange ill-advised idiot unexposed to basic American History.

      It is not obvious that Macklemore costume is to perpetuate a negative stereotype of a European Jew. (Looks like he is poking fun of Donald Sterling) However the costume is in bad taste and it is offensive to many people…. and he should apologize.

    • Nbl

      See here’s where you come off offensive. You say that he looks like Sterling, yet Sterling doesn’t have an over large nose or a beard. It is however well known that he’s Jewish. The fact that you jumped to that conclusion based on no actual physical resemblance proves that the stereotype is alive and well in people’s minds. Hough wasn’t trying to be offensive with her Halloween costume but it was because of the feelings blackface invokes in the African American population. It was used to ridicule and demean them. The image of the Jew protrayed by the hook nose and beard causes the same reaction in the Jewish community. You’re calling Hough ignorant of basic American History but you’re sounding just as ignorant of world history. Worse, history of the most important, world altering event of the 20th century. I’m not trying to be combative, I just want you to see that this is just as bad as blackface and should be treated in the same vein.

    • FauxRealFaux

      Your opinion. The holocaust was ONE of the most horrific and world altering events of the 20th century. Segregation, in the South, which consisted in mass lynchings and rapes, of black people, was just as horrific. Just as the murders of millions of people at the hands of Stalin and genocide in China. Let us not forget the atom bombs dropped in Japan. Or the treatment of Palestinians once the West decided they would give European Jews a home State.
      In short, let’s not compare tragedies and deem one genocide as more horrific than another.

      I will not compare Macklemore’s ridiculous costume to blackface- it is not even in the same realm as blackface. You can continue to do so….

      The costume does resemble that creep Donald Sterling. Which would make sense in light of Sterling’s latest behavior.Yea, I know Donald Sterling happens to be Jewish. Just as the character Hough was dressed as happened to be black. I don’t think Hough and Macklemore were intentionally trying to offend anyone. That’s my point.

      I don’t have a stereotypical viewpoint of how European Jews and other Jews look. I know that Jews don’t posses a singular look that would be as stupid as thinking all black people look alike.

    • Nbl

      Yea I was talking about WWII not the Holocaust. The fact that you don’t put this is the same league as blackface is the problem. How can one form of racism be more offensive than another?

    • FauxRealFaux

      Context. You brought up anti-Jew propaganda that lead way to Hitler’s final solution. Safe to say you were discussing the holocaust as one of the most important life altering things of the 20th Century. I disagree with that. In my opinion Jim Crow, which lasted for almost 100 years, was equally horrific.

      Now, I did state that Macklemore should apologize for his costue because it has offended people. We just disagree with the intent behind his bad decision to dress that way.

      My perspective of blackface is going to be different from yours since my ethnicity was the targeted group.

    • Nbl

      This is the last thing I’m going to say about this because honestly, I’m tired of trying to convince you. There is no scale to racism. It’s just racist. Regardless of the intent behind the action. This is just as bad as blackface because its a negative characterization of a group of people. Both images were used to demean. What completely confuses me is that you are part of a group of people that has suffered as much as the Jews and we both face negative effects of that oppression to this day, yet you seem to think that your offensive act is more concrete than the act offensive to me. That regardless of the intent behind it, blackface will always be more offensive that this. Nothing I say will change your opinion so this whole thing is useless.

    • Penelope

      #preach

    • Nbl

      I’m curious why you feel there is no comparison. I’m not trying to start an argument, I genuinely would like to know.

  • kirsty

    I personally dont tjink he “looks” like hes dressed as a jewish person…I think he looks like a creepy car sales man. Wearing a big prosthetic nose and a black beard is a pretty far stretch to say hes dressed as a jewish person…just mho

    • Nbl

      Do these help clear things up for you?

    • kirsty

      I understand that perhaps jewish people were portrayed with a certain “look” but obviously some people are not familiar with this particular propaganda…like me for one, and I cannot speak for him but I would like to think that he didnt either. Like I said I think he looks like a seedy character, not a jewish person. I’ve known plenty of jewish people without large noses or beards. I’m not saying he shouldnt apologize for offending people, because he should. I’m also saying that not everthing people do is an attack on other people :)

    • Nbl

      I understand but if you read my second response to markmywords you’ll see why I think that it’s something that shouldn’t be forgotten or brushed off. I’m sure this wasn’t an attack but recent “blackface” incidents weren’t attacks either but there was still an uproar from the public. An apology would be nice but I don’t think one will come.

    • markmywords

      Those pictures give me the creeps. Someone should tweet them to Macklemore…

  • FauxRealFaux

    I think he is suppose to be Donal Sterling….

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  • Pat

    the author is being a whiny little sensitive baby.

    • Olivia Wilson

      Iiii see what you did there.

    • Pat

      Don’t act that way near the IDF. They kill babies.