When Diplo, the multi-faceted DJ and ex-boyfriend of Katy Perry, slithered onto my timeline on Sunday with a stank remark fetishizing Iranian women affected by Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim ban, I was forced to react.
Now, do I believe all the white people who are protesting the Muslim ban are only doing so in order to have sex with every Muslim? Of course not. It would take months to organize such a lascivious plot and require a level of planning that no one that horny could endure. Do I think Diplo was making a harmless joke? No. But should I have given him a break because he’s just an entertainer? Also no. In his tweet, Diplo revealed that his fascination with non-Western culture is rooted in only the most selfish of human desires. He lazily disguised his carnality as jest. My response to Diplo gained traction, triggering more comments and blog posts that scolded his strange outburst. But an unsatisfying silence occupied the air where my shot rung out. Would Diplo respond?
The next day brought gifts.
Diplo responded to my tweet with a backpedal tacked onto a reversal of blame, my favorite BMX trick. He was right, though, my scope was far too large and adopted the same dangerous thinking he presented in the first place. I returned promptly with a revised and more achievable goal.
Then things got wild. Diplo took off his shirt and went full apologist, suggesting that calling out white people for saying or doing racist things can result in them feeling left out, unwelcome, or even worse — resorting to extremism. Interesting.
Almost a day later, Diplo swung low, striking me in the groin with this hefty appeal to accomplishment. I was like, “woah brah.” What was I going to do? I had no time to produce an album and get it nominated for something or implement an abrupt rebrand to make myself more (or equally as) socially palatable as an EDM DJ. How was I going to qualify to argue with Diplo now? I reeled, but replied swiftly to avoid a pause (pauses mean you lose the fight). Diplo had abandoned the act of even trying to sound informed, so I was free from the shackles of reason; the rules of engagement had been washed away.
In an even weaker attempt at victory, Diplo brought his children into battle strapped to his chest like sympathy bombs. He then threatened to martyr himself to prove his allegiance to justice and equality. K. I struck back, and I knew I had won when he confirmed the depth of his wounds with a subtweet. I wasted no opportunities to reduce his day to ashes. This is the url rendition of chewing someone out then hearing them contest the beating under their breath when you exit the room.
The roar of notifications and texts in the wake of this short-lived beef went mostly unanswered. A humorist’s work is never done. I completed some paperwork, answered some emails, and drew for a few hours, avoiding my phone so I’d feel better about getting drunk at nightfall. My first sip of beer at a local taco spot synced with a text from a friend.
“omg did you really get suspended?”
I was completely confused. But more texts echoed the same thing and I eventually got the picture: I was suspended from Twitter. The punishment’s timing was instantly declared as suspicious by friends and colleagues; this had to be a retaliatory gesture. Did Diplo personally have me removed from the micro-blogging site? Did his two million followers step in to help? Was I going to be kidnapped and tied to a chair with a hole in the seat and forced to listen to his music while a masked captor kicked my genitals? I had so many questions at once. Was I being punished for making jokes and calling someone out on their bullshit?
That would not be a surprise. Multiple accounts have faced suspension recently for retaliating against far-right users and their abusive tweets. Title IX advocate Alexandra Brodsky got the boot after screenshotting and tweeting anti-Semitic tweets in her mentions. Musician Thor Harris, of the band Swans, was suspended after posting a “how to punch a nazi” instructional self-defense video. But my situation wasn’t politically driven. I was just making jokes. Did my suspension mean that writers and artists with large followings will face the threat of removal for simply suggesting something is racist or just defending their opinions?
I admit that my situation was pretty hilarious, fitting in with the comic-book reality we currently inhabit. In the half day or so that I was suspended, all hell broke loose in my notifications (which I could still view, strangely, despite my time out). Collaborators, friends, and fans rallied against the random and overtly sus move by Twitter, someone even made a diss song/liberation anthem. I reached out to Twitter and companies that I've done work with to see if their social departments could help out. I was fully prepared to have a long wait and chose to focus on the positives and stay busy. But no, I got on a plane to New York and as soon as I landed my account was active again. So much for working on my posture or taking my over-stimulated ass to sleep (until the next suspension which I’m teeming with anticipation for).
At the end of the day, Diplo is just an innocuous idiot and I’m just a comedian/artist/writer/actor/sex symbol. I am not an activist. But I am not cowed by my suspension. I will continue to belittle and offend people like Diplo, who enjoy foregoing thinking before speaking. Sometimes I might do it even if they haven’t said anything. I want to continue to open discussions on issues while making people laugh. Diplo couldn’t care less. But I don’t want him to do better, because the world doesn’t need him to do better. Despite everything, he seems to be perfectly aware of his own ineffective position on the world’s stage, and boasts his incompetence as a style choice that exempts him from ever apologizing for anything he says or does. History will oblige his desire to never be taken seriously.
Editor's note: We have reached out to Twitter to ask about Zack's suspension and will update the story with the company's response, if any.
Zack Fox is a visual artist and comedian.