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Butchered - Opening Image

Butchered

by Linda Stupart / 28.02.2012

trail•er/ˈtrālər/
Noun:
An unpowered vehicle towed by an/other, in particular.
(my emphasis)
Verb:
Advertise (a movie or program) in advance by broadcasting excerpts or details.

When the news broke that Die Antwoord’s trailer for their new album had been pulled due to copyright issues regarding Jane Alexander’s Butcher Boys (1985/6) the popular response was instantaneous and damning. This response came both from South Africans and ‘the overseas’ and it was almost singularly critical of Alexander’s choice to claim back her work, to extract it from Die Antwoord’s visual lexicon and their particular identity non-politics. Alexander was accused in this commentary of a range of evils – from being greedy and trying to make money off the backs of Die Antwoord’s success to having an unacceptable desire to close down the meaning of her piece by keeping it out of the public sphere. The worst attack that was thrown at her, however, was merely that she was being old fashioned, that she should get over it (what ‘it’ is in this context is rarely apparent) and herself, and just, you know, relax.

Butchered - Alexander's The Butcher Boys

I had not then seen the video as it had already been taken down from most sites, but reading all of this made me feel physically sick. Bile rising up my throat in a bodily need to expel something, to rid myself of the elements of my own identity – the young whiteness, South Africanness, artness, postmodernness, hipness, ‘whateverness’ so apparent in all of these bloggers’ responses and in Die Antwoord themselves. On my blog I diagnosed my disgust as a reaction to a “culture of forgetting” in South Africa. Later, I realized that it was rather a compulsive revulsion that typifies my response to something bigger, and undeniably pervasive internationally (particularly, it seems, in England). This ‘thing’ is ‘post-political-correctness’, and I think it’s a problem.

To begin with, the appropriation argument: Once it is in the real world the author has no claim to her own work. Everything is a remix. To nominate is to create. To read is to write. Notions of originality (being at the origin of) and even of creation (making something from nothing) are slowly blurred in this new cultural landscape marked by the twin figures of the DJ and the programmer, both of whom have the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts.

Yes, in principal, in theory, I agree (I am also not going to bother referencing any of the above, but that’s totally conceptually appropriate. Right?)

That said, the day someone remade one of my works as unreferenced ‘satire’ I was both angry and upset. Sure I didn’t do anything about it, mostly because I didn’t want to further my already violated position by being a ‘spoilsport’, old fashioned, lacking in humour etc. (accusations identical to those thrown at Alexander here). So before damning the artist’s decision, it might be worth positing some kind of potential empathetic considerations of her position as artist.

It might also be useful to remember how unquestioningly outraged South African artists were when BMW ‘appropriated’ Gerhard Marx’s work in an advertisement. Where (quite rightly) the media and the public supported Marx in claiming ownership of his creative property, we cheered when he eventually won. While I am not ignorant of the differences between BMW and Die Antwoord as producers of both culture and capitalism, Die Antwoord’s trailer functions as an advertisement for the new album. And for themselves. And here, perhaps, we find the crux of the matter; in what self(s) Die Antwoord is peddling. Perhaps this is why Alexander has chosen to break her well-known and respected silence about The Butcher Boys and its multitudes of appropriations – a particular corporeal distrust (/disgust) of Die Antwoords’ un-identity non-politics.

And here, a note for Americans:

DIE ANTWOORD ARE NOT REAL. THEY ARE NOT POOR. WADDY (OR ‘NINJA’) IS NOT AFRIKAANS. THEY DO NOT HAVE THOSE ACCENTS. THEY COULD AFFORD MUCH BETTER TATTOOS IF THEY WERE SO INCLINED. THEY DO NOT DRESS LIKE THAT NORMALLY. THEY DO NOT LIVE IN THAT BACK GARDEN THEY FILMED THAT GODDAM ‘INTERVIEW’ IN. THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PRISON. THEY ARE NOT EVIL OR STUPID. THEY ARE NOT ZEF. ZEF IS NOT A THING THE WAY YOU THINK IT IS. THEIR DAUGHTER DOES NOT WALK ABOUT WITH A SNAKE AROUND HER NECK. ETCETERA.

Butchered - Max Normal

Ok, but we’ve been through this: There is no such thing as an authentic subject, as ‘realness’. In the face of hybridity, postmodernity, virtuality, globalisation, elective affinities etc. this very idea is naïve and boring. In other words, so they’re not real, but who is? Perhaps the question should rather be posed in relation to Die Antwoord’s indiscriminate masquerading as Other, wrenching out elements of existing cultures and extinct subcultures in what becomes a caricature of identities, which functions to parody otherness, to freakify difference.

And the context of this masquerade is the South African Post Apartheid landscape, its backdrop, post-political-correctness.

According to Wikipedia:

Political correctness (adjectivally, politically correct; both forms commonly abbreviated to PC) is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts, and, as purported by the term, doing so to an excessive extent. In current usage, the term is primarily pejorative (my emphasis).

I am sympathetic to arguments against political correctness, which can act as a kind of moral police, a benevolent racism, a victimizing of minorities, a way of closing discourse, gagging people and so on. However, I wonder whether the rejection of not-offending is also a rejection of not-causing-harm. Sexist memes, rape jokes, casual racism are all symptoms of being allowed to ‘do what we want’. of a society that is permissive at all human costs. The assumption is that ‘we’ all agree with this okayness and that anyone who disagrees is alone, particular, alien and cast out in their old fashioned sensitivity. This implicit ‘whatever-ness’ is particularly worrying when applied to atrocities of the recent past in South Africa, where ‘we’ are assumed to be ‘over’ Apartheid – viewing the past from a privileged cool-kid distance.

Because, to quote ‘Yolandi’ in an American interview ‘[Apartheid is] like a back in the day thing, it’s old fashioned…

The thing is, not only did Apartheid only just end, many would argue that it still exists. If not legislatively, there is still an undeniable racial disparity economically, socially, and in education in South Africa. Once before I, fairly callously asked how many white people you know living in townships, and how many black South Africans are at art school? Despite its crudeness, I revive this example, because it proves as an indisputable visual marker of difference in the population.

To continue, two more statements that are controversial in a kind of vapid throwaway shock value post-politically-correct way that has become Die Antwoord’s staple:

God made a mistake with me. I’m actually black, trapped in a white body.

I’m a white kaffir (I untyped and retyped this word repeatedly, eventually leaving it visible in the hope that it might at least arouse some kind of bodily response in South African readers).

So, I continue:

Dear Waddy,

You are not a black person trapped in a white body.

That is, to be black is largely defined as to be visibly marked as black, i.e. to be inside a black body. That is not to say that I know anything whatsoever about black experience. What I do know, however, is that much of the culture and history of race, racism, sexism and other Othering has to do with the fact that to be black is to be marked as such, to be visibly not-white, to be visible.

Waddy (/Ninja) was born in 1974, four years after non-white political representation was completely abolished and black people were deprived of their citizenship in South Africa. So, as a South African, Waddy, what exactly does it mean to inhabit a white, English body and yet ‘be’ black – does it mean you would have failed the pencil test? Does it mean that your parents could not vote? That they carried passes? That you could not be schooled except in trade? Does this mean that until only 18 years ago (when you were already an adult), that you were considered a non-citizen, a not-South African, not-human. And where do you live today (and I mean before you ‘got rich’ off of Die Antwoord) exactly? Does your lifestyle reflect that of the majority of the black population in South Africa? Do you suffer from the institutionalized racism, classism etc?

Butchered - We Are One

Now with this question we do know the answer.

Jane Alexander’s Butcher Boys is a pivotal work in the history of resistance art and of Apartheid. While it functions as any artwork in the public realm it is also more than that – a cultural artifact, an historical testament, an affecting reminder of the dehumanizing horrors of apartheid. The work is of this particular time and space, and Die Antwoord’s kitschification of The Butcher Boys is endemic of the callousness of their production in the South African context, of the harm caused by the post-politically-correct.

I have watched the video a few times now. It is engrossing. For a while I considered the idea that in their appropriation of The Butcher Boys Die Antwoord were being critical of their own identity construction. I dismissed this argument for two reasons: Firstly because Die Antwoord’s massive fanbase outside of South Africa are unlikely to even notice the reference. Secondly due to Die Antwoord’s ‘apology’, which refers to the sculpture as “beautiful” and names their trailer as “just a cute little short piece we made for fun”, showing a complete disregard for the artist, for The Butcher Boys’ context, and for South African specificity – the real, historical and contemporary political fact of Apartheid in South Africa.

In summary, I see Die Antwoord’s lightweight lifting of Alexander’s work as a symptom, an open wound, of the uncaringness associated with post-political-correctness. Though I remain the last person in the world to say that artists should be making work that reflects Politics, that artists should do anything, this instance – which I am far more ambivalent about than the statements detailed above – is yet another in a string of ‘whatever-ness’ that stands in the way of any kind of real engagement with the South African socio-political landscape. Here, I imagine a bunch of really fresh, cool-looking racehorses wearing blinkers: happy, but tightly controlled precisely through the invisibility of their periphery – ridden hard and fast on a circular track.

Butchered - Ninja

63   21
RESPONSES (85)
  1. Dplanet says:

    Wow. Great piece.

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  2. Buchu says:

    Great article… we live in a culture desperate to forget

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  3. Chloe says:

    Brilliant.

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  4. Lisa says:

    this feels to me like one of the few really thoughtful deconstructions of die antwoord i have read.

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  5. Jason says:

    The fact that this piece has a few ‘kak’ votes shows just how much shit we are in.

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  6. Happy says:

    Apartheid schmapartheid.

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  7. SihleMthembu says:

    It is easy to be negative about the era, because as Fran Lebowitz points out, “The past always seems better because when the past happened you were younger.” But I must agree with Linda it reaches beyond that. Now more than over I am seeing that South African creative culture is fast being defined as a vehicle that adds nothing to the communal dialogue but is merely an entity to advance a sustained lack of social interest. And anyone who wishes to claim their work in that space is well you know ‘butchered’

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  8. Marius says:

    Thanks. A very thoughtful analysis.

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  9. Meri says:

    I agree totally. Finally people see their true colours… or intellect rather.

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  10. wh1sPÅ.kYdd* says:

    fuck janealexander
    and
    fuck the history
    – ourentire history as southafrikans
    is almost entirely defined by whitepeople
    who came here to steal and murder
    – these same people still own everything
    and have maintained the same systems
    of dehumanisation and criminality

    the history is fucked up
    the best thing to do
    is to become and active agent
    in creating the world we desire
    – to destroy maim defile burn and break
    our historically legacy
    is to reapropriate and undermine
    everything that it entails
    to takes its energy and reorientate it

    – die fokken antwoord
    are performance artists
    moving in the spaces
    of these fractures
    (these lines that divide the society)
    and they are fucking them up
    taking them and breaking them
    and reorientating their meaning

    anything youcreate is only yours
    until somebody steals it
    and makes it new
    in theirway
    – there can be no more
    masterpieces and no more antiquity

    die antwoord dont respect
    history and no southafrikan should

    fok julle naaiers

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  11. Lizzy says:

    excellent writing.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    This is the best thing ever published on Mahala.

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  13. James says:

    Nice piece – although the general tone is rather shrill if I may say so.

    So it’s obvious that you don’t like Die Antwoord’s artistic taste, nor do you like their lack of sensitivity to what you feel is (or should be?) the “South African post -apartheid landscape”? So what?

    I don’t think it’s fair to label them with your “post-political-correctness” thing, I also don’t think you can fairly associate them with “a society that is permissive at all human costs” either – that’s a little extreme and more than a little naive, wouldn’t you say?

    I still see no problem in their referencing Alexander’s or anybody else’s work.

    You yourself describe your “response” to Die Antwoord as a “compulsive revulsion” – it seems to me, in that case, that they must be doing something right.

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  14. Roger says:

    Linda Stupid.

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  15. Roger Young says:

    Hey wh1sPÅ.kYdd

    You’re just reading the wrong history books.

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  16. Reality Check says:

    More white guilt from another lame artist…it’s just really tasteless. Don’t hate because no-one’s interested in the dead-pan art you’ve attempted to make.

    At least Die Antwoord are actually making us think/speak about stuff. Not just sweep it under the carpet.

    Don’t you see the irony? By saying someone can’t call themselves a wit kaffir, you are returning an Apartheid mindset.

    WE ARE FREE.

    Who are you to tell someone else what their identity is?
    Who are you to tell an artist what they’re allowed to talk about or express?
    Since when is a pop artist not allowed to reinvent themselves?

    The fact that you’re so repulsed by all of this just shows that you have some deep-seated trauma/guilt. We all have issues we need to deal with related to the beast called Apartheid – but your issues are your issues, between you and a psychologist.

    South Africa’s big problem is that were so PC that we’ve just brushed everything under the carpet. And then the whites go home and bitch about the blacks. And the blacks go home and bitch about the whites. Coloureds just dunno which way to turn.

    Die Antwoord are reminding you white liberals in your ivory towers that South Africa is still pretty fucking insane.

    Like Ninja said in one interview. “We like what’s funky. The underclasses of society. We reflect that. You wanna know what’s funky? Funky is when you don’t change your underpants for weeks. And South Africa is pretty vokken funky.”

    Liberal hipsters just want everyone to put on new clothes and forget that we’ve got soiled undies on. Smile and dance with Helen Zille while she gentrifies the city center, kicking the funkiness out of sight.

    No my dear, you are the ones who want us to forget.

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  17. Jeff Goldblum says:

    @Reality Check

    “Coloureds just dunno which way to turn.”

    Really?

    Fuck you, racist.

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  18. dribbleweed says:

    …get over yr self linda…. your article says more about you than anything else….

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  19. the present says:

    Excellent writing (thinking and feeling) here Linda. I’m all the way with you against ‘whatever culture’ – we actually just can’t afford that right now, simple. The anger and stupid rudeness of those who disagree with any critique of Die Antwoord is really telling. It’s like they’re all shouting “don’t you dare touch our newly found ‘anything goes’ identity, I paid for this one myself even.”

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  20. Lefty says:

    @ Reality Check

    That’s pointing out inane theft of other people’s identity and in a pretty well reasoned sort of way. Whenever I see Die Antwoord I am reminded of this:

    “In irony a man annihilates what he posits within one and the same act; he leads us to believe in order not to be believed; he affirms to deny and denies to affirm; he creates a positive object but it has no being other than nothingness.” – Sartre

    Die Antwoord are infinitely interpretable in their mad appropriation of other people’s symbols, but that doesn’t make any one of them more valid. In fact I prefer my art/music/whatever to say something it really means, much like Jane Alexander’s does.

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  21. White Liberal says:

    I know and briefly worked under a man who was sometimes called the white kaffir amongst other things. He was called this because he had integrated himself culturally and spiritually with the amaXhosa. Not because he was some socio-political stereo-type that the author seems to suggest one requires to be black.

    I’m reminded of a time as a teenager some dude in my neighborhood hired me to help with moving out of his furniture and shit as he going to live somewhere as. There was also some oldish black guy who he had hired and he constantly prattled on about this and that. At one point he said, “You white people like to swim in the sea. We kaffirs like to swim in the rivers.” Our employer overheard this and being the good liberal he was strictly forbade him to use that kind of language in his presence. The old bugger just looked at me and quietly laughed

    I was born in 1991 and am far from historically unaware or dismissive. But I can guarantee to you that my generation doesn’t give a fuck about apartheid, we give a fuck about now, regardless of how rooted our problems are to South Africa”s ‘recent’ history. And that I think won’t be argued out of existence anytime soon.

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  22. Foom says:

    This is a well written piece, kudos to the author. Having said that, I disagree.

    I think Die Antwoord are important South African artists. I also don’t think that artists can copyright a “look”. The fashion industry, after all, is not allowed to do so. Nevermind given that horned, ghostly figures feature prominently…well, everywhere.

    I also note that the example with the BMW advert, the artist had developed an actual technique to make line drawings. Did Ms Alexander create the techniques for her sculpture? Not that I think an art medium should be copyrightable/patentable, but the two cases are clearly different.

    I further disagree that they are a negative influence on South Africa – I think the opposite, they are one of the artists helping us to come to terms with our new identity, and allowing the white underclass to take part of the conversation in a non-racialised and creative manner.

    I would say they are now as pivotal as Alexander’s work was back then in terms of our new “struggle” – and far more relevant and accessible to large parts of the public.

    I agree with some of the comments that YOU don’t get to decide Ninja’s identity. If he claimed he was a woman living in a man’s body, would you have seen fit to tell him, no, he isn’t transgendered, he is a MAN! I doubt it.

    I completely reject the idea that Die Antwoord is about “whatever”ness, nor that they are “uncaring”. My exposure to Die Antwoord, which is only via their works and interviews, has led me to conclude the opposite: that they care very deeply about our country, and their music is a positive note.

    Well, that’s all I have to say. Thank you for the thoughtful article.

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  23. Thor says:

    die antwoord…identity…fake…yawn

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  24. Mick says:

    Well said Foom. A very well executed piece, but far too literal and assumptive an analysis. Too lineal. But certainly deserves a measured, in-depth response, laaik.

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  25. Roger Young says:

    Quick note to all those defending Die Antwoord.

    You know that they themselves took it down, and apologised?

    I mean if that’s not an admission that they did something wrong, then I don’t know what is.

    It also happened with tracks that were removed from both $0$ and Ten$ion.

    They are, or course, aware that they go too far, but part of this is testing the limits of what other people will consider too far. They grab from everywhere and when someone “minds” they pull back. If nothing else, it’s cowardly.

    I reckon Sean Meterlenkamp (sp?) should just claim authorship of both their albums.

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  26. haha says:

    I fucking hate die antwoords music but they deserve a fucking oscar. By creating a character for you to hate/love/talk about they just stay in the lime light soaking up all your attention weather its positive or negative, love or hate- you all talk about them and therefor fuel the phenomena that is “die antwoord”. Lovers/Haters you’re all the same, you are “the hype” keep up the good job while “die antwoord” laughs all the way to the bank.

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  27. Shmegma says:

    “THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PRISON”

    Actually, Watkin has spent a few days in jail.
    Petty drug charges. Not murder.
    But still. Just sayin’.

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  28. Mick says:

    Yes, kinda ‘Haha’, but more intriguingly, Die Antwoord are super conscious of what they quote, steal and bother. It can successfully be argued that, in the same way debut $O$ is an explosive veneer, revealing to those who bother/are intrigued, shockingly detailed depths of artistry (in both the crafts and originiZing senses), their entire project is one Helluva Hullabaloo, attracting masses but leaving glowering beacons and clues and red herrings to those sufficiently intrigued. Which is obscurexactically what’s happened – die Antwoord, in their teeny (thusfar) de-flowering, have itched more academic and pseudo-academic debate than many many long established musical ‘artists’. Roger seems to have gone a complete about-turn regarding his appreciation of them ‘Sean Meterlekamp should…” Puh-LEAZE! Die Antwoord are toying with us. In doing so they are reaping the (dubiously) financial fruit the likes of Waddy has been deserving of for at least a decade now, but, more importantly, are drawing THOSE CURIOUS ENOUGH (so far, the likes of Lynch, Richard d James, Chris Cunningham, harmony Korine – I MEAN SERIOUSLY! Youz think these auteurs are 14-yr old yokels?) into an exploration of the various IDS that inform and enforce their chaotic superfice… Fucking kids in Europe and AMERICA (hahah) are desperately trying to figure out the mass of linguistic Unknown Die Antwoord pepperspray their retro-phucked beats with. But that’s just me ranting before me twirls me pizza into funki funki ovenness.

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  29. Mike says:

    Only read about half of it, but a great article and well-written. That’s some quality right there. Tip of the hat from me.

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  30. WillemLanga says:

    Jesus Stupard, relax wittes, we all cool. Die Antwood? They original deal, way they throw things together, makes other motherfuckers see this sick city we live in, they pick some of the shit we float around in, put it in a pot, stir. Fuckers overseas, take a sip, goes aaah! Wants more. Gets more. Hallo! Put your hands together now! That’s all man. And get your own shit ready. They waiting

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  31. arend says:

    fuck the past……kiss the future

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  32. DQ says:

    The way to help a culture forget a past that it desperately needs to remember is by avoiding it, not by appropriating and re-enlivening a work of art and a debate that was probably not as vibrant as it is now.

    I cannot disagree more with the notion that Die Antwoord is somehow part of a blasé, amnesiac, post-political-correctness culture. It seems that every move they have made– particularly in terms of the visual culture they have designed around their music– makes reference to apartheid and post-apartheid issues, and uses them to PROVOKE responses. Choosing to use Jane Alexander’s work is not an attempt to make anyone “chill out”– their music is as far as anyone gets from “chilling out”– but an attempt to piss people off, to wake them up, to bring issues back to life– and possibly to posit their own, admittedly utopian view of new ways for people to live race. It is fair to disagree with how these new ways look, or just how idealistic or delusional they are.

    At root, however, Die Antwoord are clearly in the punk tradition that begins with Sid Vicious wearing Nazi imagery. It is wrong to interpret Vicious’ choice to do this as a “whatever” gesture– precisely the opposite. It was a fuck you to the world, USING history, and invoking all of the power that these historically charged signs contain.

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  33. cnut says:

    You people take yourselves far too seriously!

    As for white-apologists they make many of us blacks sick!

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  34. cnut says:

    As for Alexander… who gives a toss… creative genius’ like Roger Ballen have not such shortcomings!

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  35. Andy says:

    “creative genius like Roger Ballen”… ke ke ke. Ballen can’t even hold up a candle to Alexander. Manufactured, exploitative photographs being compared to original, hand-wrought art. Do you ever think before you type cnut?

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  36. cnut says:

    Clearly you don’t you fucking balding blonde dillettante!

    Who is comparing their work in an Andy ‘Dufus’ Davis ‘penis measuring contest?

    Not I…

    Manufactured? I know Jane’s work very well… and wait for it… it’s manufactured!

    For Dufus’s like you Davis… Ballan’s work is only a picture or two of inbreds… I’d expect no more…

    Ke ke ke cunt!

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  37. Gaanvravirpiet says:

    haters gonna hate?

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  38. Roger Young says:

    @Mick

    I haven’t changed my position. Die Antwoord skirmishes into other peoples creativity creates some very exciting paradoxes, juxtapositions, etc. And I think that’s fantastic. I don’t think the second album is as good as the first, I don’t think they push it as hard, but, based on Ninja’s previous output, I have faith that the ante will be upped on the next one, and there will be a next one.

    The issue for me is about double standards, which is why I referenced Metelerkamp. Ninja and Yo-landi fiercely guard creative control over their Die Antwoord, and therefore when borrowing from others they should, at very least, listen to Jesus, and “do unto others”, or at least not throw a hissy fit when it happens.

    I’m off to make some Chommie dolls, before the official ones come out. Don’t worry Ninj, my bru, I’ll change them ever so slightly, give them a Richie Rich wig or something.

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  39. Daniel Neville says:

    To me the biggest irony is that no one was talking about The Butcher Boys (well apart from a select few matric art students) anymore – by appropriating Alexanders work DA have bought the conversation back to life… How can Alexander be bummed about that?

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  40. FongkongTiger says:

    Inneresting conversation. While the article makes good points it is, however, founded on a contradiction that undercuts some of what the writer is saying. On the one hand there’s the postmodern dogma of:

    ‘There is no such thing as an authentic subject, as ‘realness’. In the face of hybridity, postmodernity, virtuality, globalisation, elective affinities etc. this very idea is naïve and boring. In other words, so they’re not real, but who is?’

    I take it the writer is sincere about this PoV. On the other hand there’s the attempt to make a political point:

    ‘You are not a black person trapped in a white body. / That is, to be black is largely defined as to be visibly marked as black, i.e. to be inside a black body. [and further down] … a complete disregard for the artist, for The Butcher Boys’ context, and for South African specificity – the real, historical and contemporary political fact of Apartheid in South Africa.’

    Notice how in the second quote there suddenly is something that is somehow real? I don’t think one can have it both ways. Either we are all just automatons swirling in the pomo soup, or we are actors and agents in a real world.

    I think you have to drop one of the options – either the dogma of a close-to-extinct philosophy that has suffocated a more than generation of human creative and critical output; or the fact that we act and are reacted on in a real and changing world. I can’t see that anyone who has typed up their opinion on this page would argue with the latter.

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  41. kifkak says:

    Roger Young: “You know that they themselves took it down, and apologised?

    I mean if that’s not an admission that they did something wrong, then I don’t know what is.”
    you mean like a banned Nando’s ad??? Should Nando’s apologize to the Last dictator? Shouldn’t the Last Dictator have copyrights on his image?
    What about all the skits on the Mona Lisa? Art, shmart, fart.

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  42. NOD says:

    Waddy is black ‘cos he raps, and all black people rap.

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  43. Mika says:

    Totally disagree with Stupart. So many things wrong with her article. 1) Current and future culture is built upon the remixing of cultures gone by. It always has been and always will be. “Wrenching out elements of existing cultures and extinct subcultures” is really what we do everyday to create our current culture and reality. There is no pure edenic “originary” state. Die Antwoord make a statement of the excessive nature of this remixing, copying and referencing in our current culture. 2) Her attempt to become some kind of moral beacon for us apparently desensitized degenerate South Africans who need her to write a racist term in order to “arouse some kind of bodily response in South African readers” is really reprehensible. 3) Who is she to designate who is to be black or white? Does she realise that in her one-dimensional, colonial definition of blackness she’s actually making Waddy take that “pencil test” that she writes so sneeringly about? Poor Waddy, not black enough for Miss Stupart. 4) She paints black people as apathetic towards Apartheid, discounting the anti-apartheid resistance movement, the protests undertaken against Apartheid, the defiant burning of pass books in front of police stations, the black consciousness movement. 5) Although her argument about “forgetting” makes some sense, she contradicts herself: what are Die Antwoord making us do right now? TALK! DEBATE! UNFORGET! Alexander might not realise that their use of Butcher Boys iconography is making us do what she wanted the original work to do: OPEN UP FISSURES, SCRATCH AT SURFACES, REVEAL PREJUDICES AND THE REALITY OF APARTHEID AND ATTITUDES TO IT.

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  44. Bigbadbob says:

    Wow now i’m confused. Does Lady Gaga really wear dresses made of meat?

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  45. Leigh says:

    Stupart has missed the point entirely. Does she not realise that everything Die Antwoord says, does, releases, and performs is a construction? I would go as far as saying that it is a well thought out, elaborate and clever form of performance art! Their music is not supposed to be good! In fact it is intentionally bad! Consider the fact that Waddy conceptualised the identity Max Normal and very few people can say the music produced then was awful!? There is no doubt that he has the talent to produce music that exceeds that of Die Antwoord. And dont you think that the reality that what has been created by Die antwoord (and the music that comes with it) still makes it ‘big’ in America despite it being “crass and a stain” is not a brilliant statement on the crazy-awful state the main-stream music world is in at the moment! As for their use of the butcherboys in their albulm promotion- it WAS definitley intentional! Their ‘letter of apology’ claim that ‘they thought it was cool’ was simply part of the performance!Art is supposed to be used and re-used in order to create new ways of challenging our own identites as a human race. I think it is great that they have adopted a very important piece of art from south Africa’s past and have used it to create debate and once again challenge us as a nation to face our own identities. This forces us to talk about the consequences of our pasts in a new context- because consequences still exist!

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  46. vermillionwaist says:

    This is FUCKING BRILLIANT WRITING!!!!

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  47. not the answer says:

    The Butcher Boys is about a closed system that inbreeds on itself and distorts itself in order to survive, the Michaelis school of art runs this same risk- perhaps it takes itself a little too seriously in laying down the law about where the boundaries should lie.

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  48. Creepy Steve says:

    I dunno hey, can somebody explain how the use of pre school children in “explicit art” is okay on a human level. Sure somebody sat down with the small ones and explained the artistic importance of being objectified on an international platform where the real freaks live. Maybe these small people were given the opportunity to make a well informed decision about their role in the Freaky song thingy so I am not suggesting that anyone abused their parental power or anything, just saying hey! Freaky hey!

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  49. Poefie says:

    I am not able to have original ideas, but that’s OK, because I can strip mine what other people have made and repackage it. By associating myself with great ideas I also end up looking good. People even think I’m creative and original! And it’s cool to be kak. Win win, people, win win!

    I don’t care what people feel like when I steal from them. Folks call it sampling, appropriation, whatever. I think it’s the same as when I zik your bag out your car. So I call it stealing. I don,t think about the trouble it causes you and I don’t feel bad when you cry because your PC with all your stuff ends up in a pawn shop. Your feeling mean less than zero to me.

    I will do anything to be famous. ANYTHING. I will hoer myself, my kids, my mother, anyone, because I’m number one and that’s what it takes. And I only care about me and my desperate need to be someone. I am addicted, I am a narcissist. I am an artist. And that means that I can do whatever it takes and take from where ever I want. Lekker, piele!

    And one more thing: at school I used to call the Afrikaans kids names and I hated them, but now Afrikaans is cool and all. I can use that, people, I can be Afrikaans. I can say ‘ Holnaai!’ Anything goes as long as it helps me climb up the ladder to heavenly success.

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  50. Roger Young says:

    @kifkak

    I’m not talking about Nando’s ad’s or anything else. I’m talking about this specific instance. Trying to conflate it with anything else misses my point.

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  51. Mick says:

    Poefie is vol kak.

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  52. not the answer says:

    Is Linda over-identifying with Jane because she is running the same psychological patterning which is that of coming to terms with her own repressed masculine agency? Does she hate Wady because he is exercising his masculine agency while she seeks reward through allegiance to hierarchical institutions like universities and national galleries? Before The Butcher Boys became a universal symbol it was specifically Jane’s response as a woman to a system that disempowered her, the fact that Jane reclaimed her specific meaning in this instance means that this issue persists for her. For this reason she should be held with compassion, Linda too- in fact all of us including Wady.

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  53. Bruce Wayne says:

    But their music is SO bad.

    Max Normal with a band was awesome, it was, whats the word… ART!

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  54. Anonymous says:

    Poor article. Brilliant band.

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  55. Dawg says:

    Aaaah, fuck. To quote another musician:

    and all the lousy little poets
    coming round
    tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
    and the white man dancin’

    This article demonstrates most clearly between those who create and do and those who love to run around nattering about what those who do did. Die Antwoord do shit, they do shit that affects people and in so doing they provoke a stong emotional response; love or hate them, you know them and that is the definition of feeling alive. Sameness and tranquility and your political correct vision is as bland as death. Take me the fuck now if that is what lies ahead.

    If I have to sit through one more production line rap video from the US with some gold tooth fuckwit waggling his hands and whining about the hood in his new bling kit while his homies angle grind the roof off a Maybach and women in bikinis and high heels do some synchopated dance behind him I would honestly puke myself to an agonising, convulsing death. Die Antwoord expose that as fake, they hint at the real streets in places that make the US look like a party for wealthy spoilt punks. That is why they are taking the US by storm. They are out-badding the previously bad. Are they themselves from those streets? Who gives a fuck! They can be what and who they like. Who are any of us to start simpering on about who they should be and how they should behave. Who the hell are you to tell Ninja that he should not feel more comfortable with black street culture than his own? Who are you to say to him that he should behave like the colour of his skin out for respect? Fuck racism. That shit will end the day nobody reacts to it. Call me a kaffir or an mlungu or a coolie or a nigger or a spic or a hun or a cunt and I laugh at you for your threatened weakness.

    That is the day that racism ends. The day when people are what they are and are free to be who they please.

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  56. littlemissconceptions says:

    Urgh. Die Antwoord make me wanna reach for bleach. I think the article was very interesting – I would’ve liked to read more about the original Butcher Boys etc (a link perhaps), but I will go do some more reading on it. On a side note, the whole issue of copyright and trademark law with regards to art (visual, music, design etc) is still a super interesting one though, and just because the law is inadequate in that respect, doesn’t make it appropriate, right or fair (think the louboutin and ysl red sole situation). Thanks again for the awesome piece.

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  57. Anonymous says:

    Dawg is on it.

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  58. Cmoon says:

    Y’know, Yolandi is not all wrong when she say’s that apartheid is old fashioned. Apartheid was racism as a statute, hatred made into a law, written down and enforced, a wicked and evil piece of South African past that must never be forgotten and swept under the rug.
    But, it’s gone, the law no longer exists, it is not enforceable in any way.
    Racism, on the other hand is still with us in all its nasty and evil little permutations, through colour, class, education and position. It hides behind the shadow of apartheid (in SA) as something (only) perpetuated by one side against the other and is denied by so many because of that. Racism is alive and well and very healthy and is sitting back and licking its filthy chops and laughing.
    I’m not keen on Die Antwoord at all – I just dislike rap/house/whatever but I am conscious of their presence, I can’t help a grudging respect for them. I’ve heard all the ant- Antwoord postulations, that they’ve stolen, scrounged, sold-out, exaggerated, are cartoon characters, not real…..etc etc (that’s entertainment!) – and this by some very talented artists, people who have struggled, stayed true to their uniqueness and subsequently haven’t made it – but have become bitter because of it. The (successful) South African music scene has always been about copycatting, its rife and rotten with it. Die Antwoord have given it a twist in the gut, if one thing, and are riding it. The Butcher Boy scenario has ripped some pretty putrescent scabs wide open, we’re still just as racist, classist, keep-them-over-there-ist as we ever were. I even wonder if half their audience even knew what the Butcher Boys stood for. They do now hopefully. The image of Yolandi ripping out the heart of the Butcher Boy is very, very significant, because racism is still there, and thriving behind the mask of apartheid.

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  59. theo says:

    to be honest does it truly matter, absolutely not. Die Antwoord are crap artists they have no creativity. They are masters in sensationalism and that says more about us than them. You can’t sell yourself as something you are not if you say you are an artist and I am a proud white South African and not ashamed to say it. I have no memory of apartheid seen as I was four years old when Mandela was voted in. So why cling to any form of the past if not just to pity yourself (this goes for any race). There will never be a true equality in this country or any other. And I am not talking about race I am talking about people, it is in our nature to do that and to think that you do not is to lose yourself in a lie. To call yourself a “wit kaffir” is truly just as inconsequential because as soon as you do that you are seeking for a reaction. What I take away from this piece (sorry to say it) are the comments and the diversity in them. It is the only remarkable thing about this piece and that is sad, because one of the first South African bands to make it across the wide expanse is one that is mostly hated in this country. The problem is us, not them, our mentality whatever it may be toward an ‘artist’ – if you have the need to call them that – that has no creativity but feeds off of the media they received. In a few years all of us would have moved on to some or other new and more sensationalist topic and they will be forgotten until they decide to compete in this uncalled for game of attention. Performance art is a step for the worst if you label yourself as relative to what you do and not what you want to do..

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  60. Gareth says:

    This is a poorly structured & barely comprehensible rant. Not well written at all. I would suggest taking a deep breath, counting to ten and maybe even drawing a spider diagram – might help to keep you focused.

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  61. JM Koet$ee says:

    Some of you people need to learn the art of paragraphs. Illiterates!

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  62. Nina says:

    People seem to be getting pretty worked up either for or against Die Antwoord, and conflating the issues of copyrright with partisanship. These two things aside,it’s alarming that in many instances there is a nostalgia for apartheid – seeing the trappings of it as ‘funky’or ‘cool’. It’s shortsighted to reject history, not just the recent apartheid one, but going right back to our genetic heritage from the origins of life – otherwise we are doomed to make the same mistakes over again.

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  63. safferjohn says:

    Fok al julle tyre naaiers. This is music and if you cannot take the artistic expression or suggestion then f#$$%off and watch some other amercian shite.

    Yolandi – ek sal jou naai

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  64. danni says:

    i liked reading this. thanks, linda.

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  65. De Beer says:

    I agree fully with Ms. Stupart. We need a program to bring these people into line. All these people in the post-political post-correct socio-hegemonic landscape must cease and desist forthwith from appropriating the work of other artists – especially the work of less massively successful white liberal artists. To begin with I invite the owners of John Muafangejo’s work and the estate entrusted with the protection of his artistic legacy and identity, to launch proceedings against the likes of Cameron Platter. Does Platter get away with his rampant appropriation because Platter is white and Muafangejo was black? Or is it because Platter is not making as lucky a living with his art as Die Ninja is with his? Is it because Muafangejo was rejected by the university art department where Alexander works, whereas Platter was accepted there?

    Seriously though, I don’t believe Alexander has objected to the use of her work for any of the reasons commonly given. I think she is shrewdly (and in a deeply ironic way) celebrating both her work and that of Die Antwoord, precisely to revive public debate, to remind people of their pasts, their identities – and her sculpture.

    The sculpture does belong to a public collection and is on public display – doesn’t that mean that it belongs to the public?

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  66. Humbug says:

    Ye – ok.

    My opinion?

    Die Antwoord, don’t expose your daughter to content, this – what’s the world?
    Dark? Grotesque?
    It’s grown up stuff.
    It’s just unhealthy and unfair.

    Take her out of your videos, back into nursery.
    She deserves that.

    fanks.

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  67. Ooo Ooo says:

    Waddy’s whole thing has always been about being white in south africa, Die Antwoord is just another construction of that concept. There’s an over reaching theme in Die Antwoord and the artists they reference/steal from. Roger Ballens photography of those communities that because of Apartheid have turned inwards and became distorted images of humanity, the same idea with the butcher boys. Die Antwoord I think is a continuation of that idea. You can’t look at it as music because it’s not, it’s conceptual as loathsome as that word is but it really is.

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  68. The Real Ninja says:

    You guys really give these fools too much press and attention. Just like Juju, they thrive on hype and controversy. What we should be doing is focussing on the real artists in our country and lifting them up, not wasting energy on faux artist narcissist idiots like little watkin and yolandi. They are fakes, being fake, in a fake pretentious section of the industry. They have no staying power and zero talent. It doesn’t take a genius to pen lyrics like “Fok julle naaiers”. Hardly clever at all. Stop feeding these fools and move on.

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  69. josef says:

    get real, haters. they stole an idea from an artist to enhance a little advertisement.

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  70. baby jane says:

    ….. really really … blow me down, blow you up….I haven’t laughed so in at least a decade and a half…..what a bunch of smug little fluffie things you neo-boere are …. no shame or guilt is your sparkling new intellectual contribution…. as naive as little fluffy yellow chickens…thats whats funny I think …like the odd things that children say…

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  71. Some American Idiot says:

    Greetings from the Overseas.

    There are many stupid people in America, as I am sure there are many stupid people in ZA. That being said, there are many in America that dismiss Die Antwoord for the same reasons many who comment here seem to — they don’t like the look, the sound, don’t get the jokes — but there are also a lot of us in America that saw Die Antwoord and started digging. I’ve learned more about South African culture from listening to their music (in all its incarnations), researching lyrics I didn’t understand and digging for answers than I ever learned in school or from American mainstream media. There will always be people who don’t like a given artist and will dismiss their talent and hard work on that dislike alone. If you can do better, do it. If you aren’t successful… maybe your stuff lacks mass appeal? Maybe you aren’t trying hard enough. Or is there a conspiracy to keep you from ‘making it’? There are millions of rappers in the US you’ve never heard of. Most famous American artists are kak compared to the American underground artists you’ll never hear of. That’s how it goes. The fact that they took the video down after Ms. Alexander requested it seems a sign of respect to me. I’m sure they could’ve gotten a TON of publicity and won the lawsuit if it came to that, but they simply issued an apology and took it down.

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  72. M Blackman says:

    …..What is worrying as far as PC is concerned is how it is used by authoritarians as a proxy censorship tool to restrict irony and satirical expression. Although political correctness restricts, quite understandably, expression that may be harmful to others, it seems to me that it is derivative of an American sensibility in that it refuses to accept irony, subtlety and satire as a legitimate response. It makes a demand of text that only one ‘signified’ can be understood from its ‘signifier’…..

    NB this comment was self-censored because of PC and personal reasons.

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  73. whiteman says:

    M Blackman: to be fair, it was only in the USA , where Parody was protected as ‘freedom of speech’ in an amendment to their constitution, that irony and satire had a hope in hell of slipping through the copyright conventions, multiple signifieds, like snake oil, were part of The American Dream..

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  74. Christo says:

    Usually I don’t reply to these things, but when the argument is particularly bad, I feel compelled to say something. First of all, let me say that, as far as the appropriation of The Butcher Boys by Die Antwoord for their music video is concerned, I have little to say as I have not seen the video and therefore do not know what their intentions were. But I shall come back to your notion of post-political-correctness.

    That being said, your argument is still fundamentally flawed. Judging from what you have said, I assume you subscribe, in principal, to the postmodern, poststructuralist approach to art: “Notions of originality (being at the origin of) and even of creation (making something from nothing) are slowly blurred in this new cultural landscape …” But yet you want to prescribe a very specific, ideological meaning to this piece? If you do indeed believe in the multiplicity of the meaning of an artwork, surely you cannot force your own meaning onto the piece and from there criticize the appropriation of the iconography of the artwork (and, the way you see it, by extension the meaning of the work) by others? Is this not the postmodern way? Compare, for instance, what Mulligan Stew does with characters from books by Joyce, etc. Therefore, the very premise of your argument is flawed and as such, the rest of your argument falls flat too; true inferences cannot be drawn from false premises.

    But even more disconcerting is the fact that a practicing artist – a practicing postmodern artist none the less – can so blatantly disregard the elements of pop and performance art that is so obviously part of Die Antwoord’s act: ” DIE ANTWOORD ARE NOT REAL. THEY ARE NOT POOR. WADDY (OR ‘NINJA’) IS NOT AFRIKAANS. THEY DO NOT HAVE THOSE ACCENTS. THEY COULD AFFORD MUCH BETTER TATTOOS IF THEY WERE SO INCLINED. THEY DO NOT DRESS LIKE THAT NORMALLY. THEY DO NOT LIVE IN THAT BACK GARDEN THEY FILMED THAT GODDAM ‘INTERVIEW’ IN. THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN TO PRISON. THEY ARE NOT EVIL OR STUPID. THEY ARE NOT ZEF. ZEF IS NOT A THING THE WAY YOU THINK IT IS. THEIR DAUGHTER DOES NOT WALK ABOUT WITH A SNAKE AROUND HER NECK. ETCETERA.” Did you really kill someone in your piece ‘Who’s abject now bitch?’, or is it an installation with fake blood? Marilyn Manson is doing exactly what Die Antwoord is doing, but no one seems to think he’s fake. If you look at the theory of cabaret, this is exactly what the cabaret artist does: they create a persona and embrace that persona completely. Just ask Nataniël. And in this context, Die Antwoord makes sense. Waddy has adopted a Zef persona, a character that has to look and do and talk the way Ninja does. What would people think if Ninja suddenly started speaking Received Pronunciation? Or knew way too much about art theory?

    Having said that, you do concur that Die Antwoord is “identity construction”, but only to serve your own purpose, which is to criticize them for not being critical of these identities that they have constructed. Can you see the incongruence here? If you don’t like them using the Butcher Boys in their video, then fine, but don’t try and construct a political/art theoretical argument around it. All it does is to highlight your own petty bourgeoisie attitude, as is very clear from this: “Certainly, Die Antwoord as representative of ANYTHING South African sits very uncomfortably with me too.” You may not be racist, but from that it is clear that you are classist. You discriminate against people that are not from your lush green Parktown childhood. You really should be careful here, very careful. Discriminating against people because they are poorer than you is dangerously close to racism… Lucky for you, some of these people in your own socio-economic class are black, otherwise you would have had some trouble.

    If you looked a little bit closer at Die Antwoord and Waddy, you would’ve seen that he has always been inclusive. On their first CD he says: “Checkit,
I represent South African Culture/
In this place we’ve got a lot of different things/
Blacks, Whites, Coloureds, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu/
Wat ook al  and everything else/
I’m like, all these different things/
All these different people/
Fucked into one person.” And look at the people he collaborates with: these days it’s mostly artists from the Cape Flats. And before that it was Spoek Mathambo, etc. When you quote Yo-landi, you again show your ignorance (or maybe you are so intent on making your point, that you miss the obvious): “… viewing the past from a privileged cool-kid distance… Because, to quote ‘Yolandi’ in an American interview ‘[Apartheid is] like a back in the day thing, it’s old fashioned…” Don’t you see the satire? Image is everything, even when it’s political… Surely you as a liberal, white, petty bourgeoisie should see the criticism of the sign as all that matters? That the sign has become more important than the signified? Can’t you see that that is why they are trying to look as ‘ugly’ as they can? They are intentionally trying to look ‘ugly’, probably as a criticism against the (especially) hip-hop culture of elevating the sign as the be all and end all of everything. As long as you’re sexy and look cool, the rest doesn’t matter. And even funnier is that they are making millions off kak music, which is what they themselves have called the music they are currently making…

    Please, in future, when you want to conduct an argument, make sure about your premises and make sure the argument doesn’t have all these internal contradictions that illuminates not the subject of your criticism, but your own prejudices.

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  77. Dan says:

    There is a reason most western countries have parody “clauses” in their intellectual copyright laws…
    Parody is exactly that…and Nothing is exempt, no matter how sacred or taboo. I dont feel guilty for apartheid, and dont believe there is any more analyzing that can be done by psuedo-intellectuals who produce abstract half-truths for a living, that have any fundamental impact on our culture… The writer of this article does no more to explain the lame withholding of intellectual property for the purpose of parody than she does to explain the overt interest people have in seeing Die Antwoord do their thing, and be really good at it…. So, Writer, I riddle you this: Why do so many young people just “get” what they are about, and you dont? And please dont write a book about it…

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  84. unbelievable says:

    Biggest load of nonsense i ever read. Who is this Linda Stupart? With her understanding of our country’s problem I’ll vote to have her as president.

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  85. Napoleon says:

    Great piece, its called an opinion people. You can like it or dislike it. Everyone wants to be a Napoleon .. .including DIE ANDWOORD. Followed them since way back when .. since they were preppy band … Great beats, lyrics kinda suck the baff. Guess they go with the shock factor. Lets see how long they ride that wave.

    I have to agree a little bit the author, although there is some venom in here … me like 🙂 Die Andwoord is not really earth shattering artist and freaking out this week on the director of for “copying ” THEIR style … what a laugh !! They do wrap up how the audience thinks a little in their own heads with the kids love the swearing bit and does paint a pretty bleak picture of what SA is really like but hey …. so does Donald Trump in America ( see .. me getting all political as well ) Anyway … that was my little rant while I take a 10 minute break from work. Let me scan ( hmmm yeah, satisfied ) Submit 🙂

    A word to the wise …Don’t sweat the small stuff …enjoy the weekend.

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