On ‘Spring Breakers,’ Riff Raff, DangerRuss And The W*gger Phenomenon

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    Korine and Franco say they developed the character together and were very deliberate in giving him a garish appearance that was nothing like Franco’s. By their own account, the Alien character was informed by the music of artists like Three 6 Mafia, Lil Wayne, and Yelawolf. Alien’s appearance, despite any denial on Franco’s part, is based on Internet novelty rap god Riff Raff. Before Franco stole his thunder in a GQ interview, Riff Raff claimed that “Alien” was solely based on him and that he was meant to have a role in the film.

    Alien Shows off his Assets in Spring Breakers from MUSE Film on Vimeo.

    Like Riff Raff, “Alien” Riff Raff sports braids, gaudy jewelry, a gold grill and prides himself on his  outrageous outfits. (Riff Raff is particularly proud of his assortment of colorful swim trunks.) His popularity on the Web at least is a testament to the meme-ification of popular culture and our seemingly insatiable appetite for all things absurd, ridiculous and ironic grows.

    It’s not clear whether Riff Raff is for real or not. If he’s a performance artist taking a piss then he’s the Rap Game Sacha Baron Cohen–so committed to the character that he has BET, WorldStarHipHop and MTV logos tattooed on his body. If he’s really the way he presents himself then he’s the personification of just how weird things can get on the Internets and how the line between what is and what isn’t to be taken seriously in hip-hop has all but disappeared.

    But, according to Franco, Alien’s resemblance to Riff Raff is only skin deep. The real inspiration for the character comes from a real w*gger named “DangerRuss.” Russ “Dangeruss” Curry is an obscure, dreadlocked, N-bomb dropping white rapper from the economically depressed city of St. Petersburg, Fla. An anomaly and an ironic grand slam for Korine who was seeking an authentic person to inform the “Alien” character.

    “From what I understand, they [Korine and staff] were in Florida and they were looking for an authentic white guy that was really from the hood, that was really from the ghetto. You know what I mean by the ghetto, the black ghetto, the real hood-hood, that had tattoos and whatever, that really lived that lifestyle.”  — Dangeruss in Complex

    If you let his YouTube channel tell the story Dangeruss is as real as w*ggers get. His viral “hit” “My Fork” is an ode to favorite crack cooking utensil. in the videos he’s bare-chested and flanked by his black friends and waxing poetic about his prowess as an amateur drug chemist. In fact. on his song “Streets On Fire” he declares himself “the realest nigga walkin'” Right.

    If you take a trip down the rabbit hole of low-budget YouTube raps videos it’s likely that you’ll find dozens if not hundreds of oddities like Dangeruss. America’s fascination with them is nothing new (see: Elvis Presley and Honey Boo Boo).

    But when you’re on your laptop enjoying Riff Raff’s latest ridiculous video or sending your friends a link to Dangeruss’s latest opus ask yourself why you’re so fascinated by people like them and what you truly find so ridiculous about them. What does it says about your own biases and prejudices? Let a “w*gger” know.

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