How a creator’s dark past smeared the success of their project.
Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of Nazi symbolism, eating disorders and hate crime.
In August 2021, a collection of 10,000 anime-inspired non-fungible tokens (NFTs) called “Milady Maker” entered the market. The project was the brainchild of crypto-based business Remilia Collective. When the project first began, these NFTs looked just like any other typical algorithm-generated collection (like Cryptopunks or Bored Apes).
Months down the line, this collection became embroiled in controversy after controversy. The situation got so bad that by May 2022, the floor prices of Milady NFTs dropped to 0.26 ETH (US$472.50 as of 2 June 2022) from an all-time high of US$6,000. Here is a breakdown of all the events that led to the downfall of this collection and its creator.
Alleged use of Nazi-motifs
Only a month after the initial release of Milady Maker, a spin-off collection by the name of “Milady, That B.I.T.C.H” was dropped. This collection gained public attention, but not for the right reasons. People began noticing that some NFTs featured characters with the word “Treblinka” on their shirts. For those who are unfamiliar with this word, it is the name of a Nazi concentration camp from World War II. Remilia Collective apologized for their mistake, claiming that the words on the characters’ shirts were randomly generated.
While this might be considered an innocent mistake in isolation, people began pointing out another Nazi-esque motif used in this collection. In October 2021, the creator of the Milady NFTs, Charlotte Fang, released an essay explaining what made certain Miladys more valuable than others. The essay details that the ranks of Milady NFTs go from “SS”, “S”, “A”, “B”, “C” to “Normal”, with “Normal” being the lowest rank. The use of “SS” as the highest rank was criticized because of the association of these initials with the Nazi parliamentary organization, the Schutzstaffel. Fang, denied any Nazi implication in the rank system and claimed that it was borrowed from Japanese video games and card games.
Remilia Collective’s dark past
Not just in the Milady NFT collections, the Nazi motifs can also be observed in the previous activity of Remilia Collective. If you are active on Twitter, you will see threads upon threads discussing the alleged problematic history of Remilia Collective. Twitter user @planet_neft wrote a detailed thread talking about how the collective was previously involved in convincing young girls to self-harm under the guise of the neo-Nazi pro-anorexia group Kaliacc. It is short for Kali Yuga Accelerationism. The Yuga cycle, which is a cycle age in Hindu cosmology, has been referenced by many right-wing white supremacist groups, and Kali Yuga is the period when the world will be destroyed and recreated.
Run by a group of people going by the names “Sunny” and “Miya”, Kaliacc’s Discord servers would have strict guidelines wherein only those who had a BMI of under 19 would be allowed to join. In these groups, young girls would be brainwashed into carving the leader’s names on their bodies. These girls would be encouraged to post photos of self-harm on Instagram with the hashtag #kaliacc.
Besides this, the alias Miya, in particular, has been responsible for creating a lot of hateful content. Their website, detailed that in order to save a nation, you need to “kill all the Jews”. In another entry, Miya uses the n-word for black people and likens them to gorillas, saying that they shouldn’t have been given the right to vote. Remila Collective’s website still links back to these topics and the two main figures behind Kaliacc. Moreover, several screenshots have been circulating that show Remilia Collective’s Twitter handle making direct references to Miya.
Charlotte Fang’s admission of guilt
On May 21, Fang admitted that they were using the alias Miya, claiming that in real life they wouldn’t even hurt a fly. They further stated that Milady Maker would shift from their leadership to that of @YOJIMBO_KING and @Milady_Sonoro. Fang conveniently never apologized for the harmful things they said as Miya but rather apologized for trying to hide the past.
Before Fang came clean about being Miya, they defended Miya as a piece of internet art spreading problematic content in the name of critical satire. “Much of the content it produced was problematic. But who cares? It’s an artist’s duty to explore and critique the contemporary, even in all its ugliness, and if they determine that critique is best produced in a process of performative embodiment, so be it,” they said, explaining their stance on Miya.
Some have likened Fang’s behavior to that of a psychopath. Others are simply disappointed that an NFT collection they liked had such dark origins. “The early rumors & hearsay i just dismissed as such. im f**king gutted & confused” Twitter user @gucciprayers tweeted, with many others saying they felt the same way.
But where does this leave Milady Maker? Well, as of writing this article, the project’s floor price is 0.41 ETH, falling by 70% in the past 14 days. Moreover, other projects that the Remilia Collective was involved in have also been distancing themselves from the controversies. Fang, who was one of the key organizers of Spice DAO (who bought director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune artbook) has now stepped down from his position with the DAO. Whether either of these projects will be able to recover from being involved with such a controversial figure is yet to be seen. Besides Miladys, some are questioning if other biggest NFT projects, including Bored Apes Yacht Club, are screaming racist ideology and alt-right iconography. So far, it seems that people are still angry with Fang, and justifiably so.
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Header image courtesy of OpenSea