The artist known as Macklemore is fending off charges that he wore an anti-Semitic costume during a recent performance.
The Seattle-based rapper has stirred up controversy in recent days after images and video of him performing his hit song Thrift Shop while wearing what appears to be a costume began to circulate online.
In the images, Macklemore (real name: Ben Haggerty) is shown wearing a black mop-top wig and large prosthetic nose as he performs the song. The photos and video were reportedly taken at a Macklemore concert that took place at Seattle’s EMP Museum last Friday.
You can watch video of Macklemore performing in his controversial garb here.
Not surprisingly, Macklemore’s decision to dress up as a modern-day version of Shylock generated immediate charges of anti-Semitism.
Even less surprisingly, Macklemore jumped on Twitter (@macklemore) to address the controversy with the defensive tweet: “A fake witches nose, wig and beard = random costume. Not my idea of a stereotype of anybody.”
Which in turn drew the following tweet from Jewish actor Seth Rogen (@SethRogen): “Really? Because if I told someone to put together an anti-Semitic Jew costume, they’d have that exact shopping list.”
On Monday, Macklemore went on to his personal website to detail the thinking behind his actions and issue a more effusive apology to fans.
In his words: “Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I’m absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended.”
As for his choice of wardrobe and prosthetics, Macklemore wrote: “My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus, it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalized, leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic [sic].”
Adds the rapper: “I love human beings, love originality, and … happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.”
Macklemore’s missive closes with the mea culpa, “I truly apologize to anybody that I may have offended.”
Obviously, the notion that Macklemore would offend Jewish people runs contrary to the peaceable sentiments expressed in his gay-marriage anthem Same Love, which he performed live at the Grammys last January with Madonna against the backdrop of 33 same-sex couples getting married during the broadcast.
The good news for Macklemore: So far, Goodwill hasn’t announced any intention to stop using Thrift Shop in their ad campaign.