Music by VICE

A Controversial Article About Berceuse Heroique's Offensive Art Is Causing a Social Media Backlash

The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, Midland, and more have joined the debate about the label's right to offend—and be held accountable.

by Michael Scott Barron
Nov 5 2015, 11:30pm

By now you've probably heard the story: Back in September, Berceuse Heroique labelhead Gizmo tweeted: "Following a girl around London cause she has the best ass EVER is not a crime." The tweet was lambasted and Gizmo took the post down, but the damage was done.

Berceuse Heroique already had a reputation of posting controversial Nazi and racist imagery on its blog, and the tweet opened the doors for their detractors to take the label to task for using this unsettling aesthetic as a form of promotion.

Then, as we noted earlier this week, author and Wire contributor David Keenan wrote an essay for Crack Magazine defending Gizmo's right to be offensive, noting that the language people were using to criticize the label, using words like "controversial," problematic," irresponsible" and "offensive, "sounded like rock 'n' roll to me."

Keenan goes further to state: "there is a right to offend just as there is a right to be offended. Rights exist to protect what ordinarily could never survive, what is most offensive, what is most off-message, most non-mainstream."

Not surprisingly, the essay has stirred the pot again as DJs and music writers including The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, The Quietus' Luke Turner, and others have used social media to voice their disagreement with—or support for—Keenan's article.

The Black Madonna took Keenan to task on Twitter, pointing out that being held accountable is not the same as censorship.

In the article's comments section, Ben UFO echoed The Black Madonna's argument about accountability, while bringing in another example of controversial imagery: Violetshaped using footage of a naked woman being stalked and killed in their A/V show at Atonal Festival.

Future Times and Beautiful Swimmers' Maxmillion Dunbar couched his criticism in the context of white male privilege.

Also in the comments section, Quietus writer and musician David Bell chimed in: "Rights like this exist to protect the status quo...the politics here challenge nothing."

On the other hand, the music writer Lara Cory's applauded Keenan's essay:

As did Luke Turner, co-founder of The Quietus:

The article brings to mind the woes of artists like Tyler, the Creator who has utilized explicitly violent imagery and blatantly misogynistic lyrics, only to find himself banned from playing in countries like Australia and England by activist groups who are opposed to it. If artists have the right to be offensive, so it would seem that the public has the right to demand accountability.

Meanwhile, Berceuse Heroique continues to post new material on Twitter about their latest releases, and has not yet mentioned the Keenan article.