Festivals require artists to think about close and far, longtime fans and newcomers, and now, apparently, whether an explicitly anti-fascist shirt can be misinterpreted as pro-Nazi. Facing a backlash, both Osheaga and slowthai have apologized after the UK rapper wore a t-shirt that said “Destroy” above a Swastika during his festival set.
As Pitchfork points out, the shirt was inspired by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s famous 1977 “Destroy” design. Historical context aside, slowthai’s performance took place on a stage with large video displays, suggesting that even distant viewers could have spotted the word “Destroy” if they looked for it in good faith.
“i’m sorry to anyone who is offended by me wearing an anti-fascist / anti-regime t-shirt and the use of the symbol it represents,” slowthai wrote in a social media statement. “i want you to know i stand firmly against antisemitism and fascism of any kind, something the t-shirt was meant to illustrate with the word ‘destroy’ above the symbol.”
“A performer appeared on stage Saturday wearing a controversial t-shirt displaying a swastika that caused confusion. The t-shirt denounces the regime,” festival organizers shared in a separate statement. “We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted this message and felt hurt.”
In case you don’t speak corporate gobbledygook, “We sincerely apologize to anyone who may have misinterpreted this message and felt hurt,” is how suits say, “Get over it, you fucking idiots.” Be sure to check out our Osheaga 2022 recap.
— TYRON (@slowthai) August 1, 2022