What Willy Moon and Natalia Kills are really trying to tell us

Perhaps Willy Moon and Natalia Kills are under contract to stay quiet about what really went on behind the scenes at The X Factor New Zealand. Or, perhaps it’s more fun for them to drop cryptic clues like one of the detective novels Moon enjoys reading; using cinematic and musical references to make commentary about society and shed light on their motivations in the aftermath of those infamous lines delivered to contestant Joe Irvine. In either case, their social media updates are fascinating.

Four weeks ago, Moon published a photo of The Stone Roses with the caption “I wanna be adored”. Could he have known back then his plan to make the pair the most hated-on couple in the world? Was it coincidence that four weeks later he posted an image with simply the word “Irony” on it?

There’s plenty of other plausible explanations for his irony post. It’s ironic that those fired for bullying have been bullied. His now-deleted tweet regarding new judge Sheldon Woolright also implied irony: “New Zealand. Pours racist hatred on an opinionated black woman, replaces her with a guy in blackface.”

In another post, Moon referred to the couple as the “Addams family are back” – a macabre family whose motto is “We gladly feast on those who would subdue us.”

One week before wife Natalia said that Joe was a doppelganger of him, Moon posted an image of Thin Man from Charlies Angels with the caption “selfie”. Was this a subtle joke about what was to come?

Right before it was announced that the pair were fired and their story was on the homepage of news outlets worldwide, Moon posted “Malcolm McLaren loves you” with a photo of McLaren. At such a critical moment when the pair were otherwise silent, I wondered what he was saying through this. McLaren was a “musician, … visual artist, performer, clothes designer … notable for combining these activities in an inventive and provocative way.” McLaren said “I have been called many things: a charlatan, a con man, or, most flatteringly, the culprit responsible for turning British popular culture into nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick. This is my chance to prove that these accusations are true.”

Were Moon and Kills inspired to turn pop culture into another cheap marketing gimmick to propel the pair into household name status by provoking viewers to vote off judges in a new twist for reality TV shows in which all the usual twists are now expected?

McLaren had a “passion for style and social friction… unusual approach… pushing the band to shock its American audiences as much as possible.” He “staged happenings” “orchestrated” and “provoked outrage” utilizing slogans.

Were Moon and Kills motivated by McLaren’s example to shock a worldwide audience as much as possible by staging this event to orchestrate outage?

McLaren was called “the most evil person on earth” by Rotten. He said he was driven by the advice “We will all be failures, but at least be a magnificent, noble failure. Anyone can be a benign success.”

Later that day Moon tweeted a line from Seinfeld: “THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!”. This can be commonly used when you’re angry, or when someone is complaining about something trivial. Others interpret this line as “try to pay attention to the way things are being said and not just the actual thing being said”.

Meanwhile, on that same critical day, Kills posted an image of the couple from the one of the most controversial films ever – Natural Born Killers – while professing her love for Moon. Wikipedia describes the film as telling the story of “two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and mass murderers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media”. When reading about the film, it stood out that a large proportion of the film is told via television show parodies. It “ends with the couple symbolically destroying the mass media”. Wikipedia says director Oliver Stone maintains the film is a “satire on how serial killers are adored by the media for their horrific actions”. It’s also interesting that Coca-Cola approved an ad to appear in the film twice without really knowing what the film was about. When Coca-Cola saw the film, they were furious. It is well known that both Kills and Moon had traumatic childhoods and they play heavily on the lovers roles. Have they been irresponsibly glorified by the mass media? Is this also a hint at the The X Factor New Zealand’s sponsors disgust at being associated with their comments?

Were Kills and Moon willing to do anything to get fame? Remaining X Factor judge Stan Walker believes so, saying “She achieved what she wanted to. The world knows her name now.”

This week, Moon posted an image of Larry David as “life coach”. A few days earlier, BuzzFeed published an article entitled “12 Times Larry David Was Your Life Coach”, which included the animated GIF: “I’m sorry if you’re offended. I don’t think I said anything offensive.” This was three days after Moon posted up an “apology” note saying “it went too far”.

Moon also posted an image of Divine, a drag queen character in the 1974 film Female Trouble with the caption “I’m so f*cking beautiful I can’t stand it myself”. This also provides key insight. The caption is from monologue in the film – well worth reading in its entirety:

“Grotesquely disfigured Dawn Davenport’s (drag queen Divine) bizarre, freakish “nightclub act”, in which after she jumps up and down on a trampoline and fondles fish and a gun, she tells the audience:

“Thank you! I love you! Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of my black little heart! You came here for some excitement tonight and that’s just what you’re going to get! Take a good look at ME because I’m going to be on the front of every newspaper in this country tomorrow! You’re looking at crime personified AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT!

“I framed Leslie Bacon! I called the heroin hot line on Abby Hoffman! I bought the gun that Bremmer used to shoot Wallace! I had an affair with Juan Corona! I blew Richard Speck! And I’m so f*cking beautiful I can’t stand it myself! Now, everybody freeze! Who wants to be famous? Who wants to DIE for art?!”

When an audience member leaps up and replies: “I do!”, she shoots him, and when the audience flees, she continues to fire on them maniacally.”

VICE called the film the “single most fabulous and anarchic film ever made” with “carefully orchestrated ironies” and its takes aim at the cult of celebrity and its message is “it’s fabulous to be hideous”. Its filmmaker John Waters says “bad taste is what entertainment is all about. If someone vomits watching one of my films, it’s like getting a standing ovation. But one must remember that there is such a thing as good-bad taste and bad-bad taste. It’s easy to disgust someone; I could make a ninety-minute film of someone getting their limbs hacked off, but this would only be bad-bad taste and not very stylish or original. To understand bad taste, one must have very good taste. Good-bad taste can be creatively nauseating but must, at the same time, appeal to the especially twisted sense of humor, which is anything but universal.”

VICE goes on to say: “If you’re offended by his aesthetic or moral sensibilities—well, his job is done; the boundaries of taste have been pushed. It shows you the possibilities of living a life less ordinary, if simply by asking, “What’s ordinary, anyway? By obliterating the very idea of “good taste,” the foul but inexorable Dawn Davenport left me free to be as depraved as I like, and proved that anyone—literally anyone—can be beautiful.”

There’s no doubt that Moon and Kill’s social media posts are a game: calculated and restrained clues to their commentary on society. The common themes are ones of irony, deliberately pushing taste boundaries, a twisted sense of humour and provoking to gain fame.

Given that people worldwide have been tweeting about the pair, it says something when the only tweet he has favourited is the one where I tweeted him the Female Trouble film reference.

Now that the world knows their names, what will be their next “staged happening”?

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About the author

Co-founder of Throng. Favourite TV shows recently: Homeland and The Newsroom.
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