Posted on January 9, 2022

Are Bored Apes Racist?

Ben Sixsmith, The Spectator, January 5, 2022

A plague of apes has spread across social media. Wherever you look, blank simian faces stare back at you. Their features? Sickening. Their prices? Equally so.

The apes have brought in more than $1 billion (£750 million) in sales. Eminem, Mark Cuban and Shaquille O’Neal are just some of the famous names who own an ape. Where have they come from? What do they mean? How can we get rid of them?

The Bored Ape Yacht Club sells NFTs. In essence, an NFT — which stands for ‘non-fungible token’ — is a unique piece of data stored on a blockchain, a digital ledger, which can be associated with a work of art, or music, or literature. Bored Ape NFTs are associated with images of, well, bored apes.


Some have started arguing that Bored Apes, or at least the people behind them, are connected to racism. Apes of course have often been used in racist imagery to depict black people. Online people have started talking with not altogether convincing authority about ‘simianisation’.

Yet the evidence is thin, compiled by wild-eyed types who think vague correlations represent clinching proofs. The organisation behind the apes is called ‘Yuga Labs’ and the ‘Kali Yuga’, originally a Hindu term denoting the most violent of our four world ages, which is used by some far-right commentators as a reference to civilisational decline.

According to its founders, though, it is actually a reference to a character in The Legend of Zelda who turns people into 2D paintings. Further evidence includes the fact that several people at Bored Apes meet-ups have worn Hawaiian shirts and that members of the anti-government subculture ‘the boogaloo boys’ also wear Hawaiian shirts. {snip}