Pink Floyd's Roger Waters under investigation by Berlin police for "Nazi-style" concert costume
Musician Roger Waters is under investigation in Berlin this weekend, as the German government launched a suspicion of incitement investigation at him over imagery and costumes in his recent concerts—and, specifically, clothing and images reminiscent of fascist and Nazi regimes.
Nazi (or at least Nazi-esque) imagery has been connected to Waters’ career since way back in his Pink Floyd days; the band’s best-selling rock opera The Wall—and especially its 1982 film adaptation—traffic heavily in the black leather and armband look, as a way to show its main character’s descent into musical megalomania. Waters’ highly successful The Wall Live tour, which kicked off in 2010, incorporated many of these elements into its run, including having the band dress up in black fascist uniforms and wear armbands with the swastika-reminiscent “Marching Hammers” logo.
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Waters would, presumably, contend that he’s using this imagery for satirical or dramatic purposes, and has said on many occasions that he is not an antisemite. (To the point that his recent German shows, which were previously canceled in Frankfurt due to the accusations, ran with a disclaimer on a screen that said “I condemn antisemitism unreservedly.”) But that hasn’t quieted concerns over his penchant for dressing up in black leather and pretending to fire machine guns into the audience. Or flying his infamous flying pig balloon with the Star of David (alongside various other corporate and religious iconography) printed on it at concerts. (A similar pig-based controversy broke out back in 2013.) Or the bit in the recent shows where Rogers opted to put up on the screen various activists and notable figures, including Anne Frank, who were killed by authoritarian regimes—including Shireen Abu Akleh, a Palestinian-American journalist that the Israeli military has been accused of killing. (Waters has been stridently and unapologetically anti-Israel for years, and is a vocal member of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that seeks to impose economic pressure on the country. Israel’s foreign ministry recently issued a social media statement condemning Waters.)
Per The Guardian, a Berlin police spokesperson said that, “An investigation has been opened over the costume displayed at the concerts on 17 and 18 May… The context of the clothing worn is deemed capable of approving, glorifying or justifying the violent and arbitrary rule of the Nazi regime in a manner that violates the dignity of the victims and thereby disrupts public peace.”
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