Dance Music Bigot Mediocre White Male Privilege

Written by @TianaHRR.

This week, I’m honored to have Black transgender musician and organizer based out of rural Pennsylvania, @TianaHRR. in their own words “ The isolation of rural life brought me to techno, socialism, and the internet. Now I spend most of my time concerned with those things.” to address dance music bigot mediocre white male privilege.

CW // Sexual Assault,Black Face,Transphobia

Being an artist comes with the pretense of being progressive. However, artists are also careerists, engaging with the public in a one-sided fashion, creating for themselves an image separate from their reactionary political views. Often, we have perceptions of artists based not on their actual selves, but the carefully curated image of themself created through their PR. Though you can never truly know an artist, to many of us, it feels as if we can. This type of parasocial relationship has only become stronger in the modern age where we have easier access to artists. The incorrect assumptions one may have about artists have become overblown in the age of social media, where outrage and "stan" culture are taking a significant place.

Mr. Oizo Born Quentin Dupieux, is an artist who as created an image of himself as a detached absurdist. His work is deliberately nihilistic, bizarre, and cynical. On a personal level, I considered myself a fan of his work, not really caring much about him as a person, but I did have my assumptions, among them being, Mr. Oizo probably wasn't a bigot. I was never much to care about the people whose art I consumed on a personal level. Being a fan of electronic music, the seemingly faceless nature of many artists appealed to me. I had immersed myself in this world, allowing myself to believe these artists were neutral arbiters of this music, and Mr.Oizo was one of them. I knew who he was, I knew what his music sounded like, but I never considered who he was personally. It felt like it didn't matter, though it always did and it was always clear that Mr. Oizo was perhaps not deserving of my attention as a black queer woman, I simply didn't care about him and I viewed his work with an uncritical eye because of the assumption that he was probably an okay person, simply because he made electronic music.

I now know, Mr. Oizo is a bigot of the most unremarkable degree, he is much like any other white man of his stature: ignorant, uninteresting, and unlikable. I struggle to find much to say about him, but I find myself writing about this man regardless, as his not-so-hidden bigotry reveals more about the racist nature of the entertainment and the public's complacency within it. Mr. Oizo is no hidden bigot, it's simply that most people don't care about his type of bigotry because they're surrounded by it, used to it, and likely peddle the same bullshit. It's very clear from Mr. Oizo's work what type of man he is, and it is easy to find him saying a multitude of ignorant and racist things on social media.

Mr. Oizo is plainly transphobic. In an interview1, he outright states he believes that transwomen transition for attention, a typical dismissive ignorant view. Nothing is shocking about this, considering the inclusion of trans and other LGBT people in his work has only ever been fetishistic and insulting.

His track "Transsexual" reveals the true extent of his knowledge of LGBT people, with lyrics repeating different sexualities, you can tell that is all he knows. His track Positif may be a reference to the 1980s AIDS crisis with lyrics "stop reproducing", "you are animals", "you are going to die", or that could be giving him too much credit as Mr. Oizo is not someone who seemingly thinks critically enough to create insults that scathing. Mr. Oizo's transphobia is on display very openly in his film "Wrong Cops". Duke, a corrupt cop, harasses and misgenders the transwoman he just slept with while an instrumental version of "transsexual" plays in the background. It's a simple scene, quick to the punchline, transphobic in a way that should be expected from a Comedy concerning corrupt police.

"Wrong Cops", while being largely lacking in plot, acts as a film that is very telling as to the type of person Mr. Oizo is. It's a film that is about corrupt police in a near-future version of Los Angeles that is apparently completely free of crime according to a number of different synopses, but this is never explained in the film itself. However, if it is, it's easy to miss this since the film is largely meandering and pointless. It uses police misconduct as "humor". Duke deals drugs, harasses random people, shoots an innocent person, and espouses a cynical hateful philosophy. Another cop holds up women by gunpoint so he can see their breasts. He even does this to another cop, who happens to be the only black woman in the entire movie. It doesn't take too long to realize that Mr. Oizo doesn't realize the cops act like "Wrong Cops" all the time. The "near future" of "Wrong Cops" could've been 2014. There is hardly anything humorous about the film, which is largely the result of Mr. Oizo's bland directing and writing. The sheer lack of any depth or point in the film leaves nothing to be gleaned from it other than Mr. Oizo's bigotries, penchant for sprinkling his films with absurdity and surrealism to distract from the fact that your time is being wasted.

On twitter, Mr. Oizo has defended police brutality, scolding a franco-algerian journalist for sharing footage of police brutality perpetrated by French cops against high school students who were protesting the half assed - if there were even any - measures to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 at school.  Since it could cause unnecessary trouble, should the implied high-schooler should just shut-up and accept the risk of getting covid in France's infamous overcrowded high schools?  All of this in the context of the French government pushing for a ban on sharing videos of police brutality with  “La Loi de Sécurité Globale” and his Article 24 on the dissemination of police officer’s image. Which will prohibit citizens to film/photograph law enforcement on duty. and the beating of black french music producer Michel Zecler by the french police a few weeks prior only. 2

It is very likely that Mr. Oizo himself has never had to deal negatively with the police, and it's apparent, not only from his own word but the naivety the plot and humor in "Wrong Cops", that Mr. Oizo likes the police and assumes they have a necessary job of brutalizing people since crime hasn't been abolished. If crime were a thing of the past, much like in "Wrong Cops", police brutality might be a thing worth complaining about, it might even be funny since cops aren't supposed to act like that... right. But we don't live in the world of "Wrong Cops", we live in one where there is crime so Mr. Oizo sees the need for policing, even if it's brutal. Mr. Oizo is rich, he's white, he benefits from policing. He openly spends time with men like convicted pedophile and rapist, Roman Polanski.3

Polanski remains free because he uses his wealth and status as an artist to avoid extradition. French law is what protects Polanski, cops uphold the law so he and Mr. Oizo can drink expensive wine while cops brutalize poor and marginalized people who are more often than not the exact people who would want to see Polanski extradited. We can clearly see how Mr. Oizo imagines a completely peaceful world where the police still terrorize the community and smile.

He is friends with a rich convicted pedophile, he knows the system is corrupt but he's thriving anyway. The brutality of policing benefits him, Polanski, and all the other rich white artists who we are treated as foundational to the modern art world.

It shouldn't be surprising that Mr. Oizo is a reactionary, and the racism and transphobia on display in his work isn't even particularly egregious. He is a rich white French man and is much like any other man in his position. The film and music industries are filled with more Mr. Oizos than can be counted. When we consume their works we expect a little bigotry to be dashed here and there. The transphobic scene in "Wrong Cops'' could have been in any movie directed by any white man and no one would have cared. And let's be real, no one did care. Mr. Oizo was never "cancelled" for making transphobia, police brutality, and sexual assault into a joke in "Wrong Cops". He wasn't "cancelled" for supporting actual police brutality on twitter, but he did delete his account when questioned about it before unfortunately returning. No one cared much when he openly hung out with a child rapist. Let's be real, Mr. Oizo is going to weather the storm of any backlash caused by any bigoted statements he could make, not because he is good at hiding his bigotry, but just because he is archetypal of the type of man who succeeds: a cis-white middle-aged man. The bigoted things he believes are simply widely accepted, it's common and unremarkable. Most people openly accept it or just don't care when they see it. France's biggest movie producer, Studio Canal is still going to commission him for his lazy ego trips presented as films.

You can point to every other prominent white man who makes dance music and create an article like this one.

For example, Aphex Twin is another white man in dance music who is a prominent bigot, with misogyny and racism peppered here and there in his work and statements. The music video for Windowlicker being the most obvious example of this, mocking hip-hop culture by making stereotypes out of Black and Latine people, while the n-word is used at an alarming rate, and Aphex Twin flaunts his wealth in front of them. You can say it's satire, but the "satire" presented is also what ignorant white men truly believe what hip-hop culture is. It's honestly no big deal to most people who will keep consuming his work regardless, Windowlicker is one of Aphex Twin's most popular works. Often I'll speak about these kinds of things only to receive messages later from people who are shocked to hear it all. I have to wonder if they're being serious. We've all put a lot into supporting rich white men who we give the benefit of the doubt when they're openly bigots simply because they're rich, white, and make media we consume. They espouse the ideology of the status quo through "experimentalism", but it's still the status quo. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mr. Oizo, much like Aphex Twin and any other affluent producer whose name you can pull out of a hat, has sold NFTs.

He did receive backlash from fans, and during this he took the time to "slide into the DMs" and sexually harass a concerned fan "as a joke", which isn't surprising considering he believes sexual assault is funny.

He also dropped the n-word casually on twitter twice because of course he did.4

You could dig up a million "little things'' about Mr. Oizo. I'm sure what has been presented is simply the tip of the iceberg, but the problem runs deeper than that.

The industry that props up Mr. Oizo has and will continue to have a problem of unchecked bigotry. Artists like Mr. Oizo are supported by people who would claim everything mentioned is a red flag and because of that they continue to thrive.

The communities surrounding the art industry are geared to always support these type of people and expect nothing back. Mr. Oizo is canonized in the history of dance music, he can direct any nonsense film he wants, and he receives the money and praise of countless people. In return those countless people get to buy and promote his art, while the marginalized among them are openly insulted.

If we as consumers wish to truly not support people like Mr. Oizo, we have to begin to build an alternative to the industry that creates them as they are endemic to it. We have to look at the art we consume through a critical lens, and we can no longer give the benefit of the doubt to artists we enjoy. The art industry as a whole is rooted in bigotry, divesting from that doesn't mean simply dropping problematic artists, but also uplifting poor marginalized artists who are ignored by the industry . Only then will we begin to create a world for art that lives up to standards we assume it has.