As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I don't know much about Kanye West

I don't know much about Kanye West, other than what I occasionally read on the celebrity babies section of People Magazine (because I'm a sucker for celebrity baby news!)  But this morning when I saw a headline about Kanye's nearly eight minute rant on Ellen, I was curious and I watched it.  And here are my thoughts.

The Internet is abuzz once more with articles about how crazy Kanye West is, how shocked Ellen was, how embarrassed Kim is.  I watched the whole thing, and while I can admit that it is pretty eccentric (maybe even a little bizarre) of him to go off on a speech like that on daytime TV like he's never been on a talk show before, I do question why people are making such a big deal about it.  For starters, Ellen asked him about what his dreams were (following the infamous incident when he asked Mark Zuckerberg for $53 million dollars because he had ideas that could "change the world")...honestly, what did she expect after opening with that?  She knows who Kanye West is, much better than I do.  And she knows he is prone to tirades like this.

Not only did she ask the question, but she sat back for the full eight minutes and let him speak, uninterrupted.  She took a few opportunities to interject with little quips, but also let many more opportunities to reign him in go by while she sat silent. He paused several times in his discourse and she just sat there, presumably waiting for him to finish. Which would have been polite but for the expression on her face, which clearly communicated that she thought he was out of his mind.  As the host of the show it's her job to control her guest as best as she can, she's the one in charge. If she had tried to interject and he paid her no mind that would be one thing, but she didn't appear to make much of an effort.  So it seems to me she intended for him to say everything he wanted to say.

And then of course, there are the words themselves that he spoke.  Which regardless of what you think of him as a person (like I said, I don't know him very well) were nonetheless full of passion and aspiration.  She asked him about his dreams, and he opened up about them unhindered.  He spoke of his concept of beauty, what his life was like growing up, what inspires him, how he would like to change the world - whether you agree with what he said or not, this is his experience.  And it was, in fact, the answer to a question he was asked - it wasn't something he pulled out of left field.

What really gets me most about this whole thing is the fact that we seem to be forgetting a fundamental fact about Kanye West - he is a real person.  A real human being, who lives a real life.  He has real hopes and dreams, and when he was asked about those and gave an impassioned answer, we chew it up and spit it out.  We dissect every part of it and call him a crazy whack job, and show the interview as evidence that he has clearly lost his mind, because who rants like that on daytime TV?  He's not the only person we do this to.  It is a bizarre fact of celebrity culture where ordinary people feel they can consume other people simply because they are famous.  You can say all you like about how people conduct themselves, how they put themselves out there, what they do and do not deserve because they put themselves out there, but the fact remains - they are people.  Like you, like me.

I watched a documentary about Amy Winehouse recently that really struck me to the core.  A friend commented that, "all the people who loved her the most killed her."  All her behaviour, that was portrayed as crazy and erratic was in fact a desperate attempt to gain control of her own life amid the machine of celebrity.  She drank to cope with the pressure of being a nobody one minute and a celebrity the next.  When she needed a break to deal with her life she was told she couldn't have it.  When she stayed home and refused to give a concert because she needed to get her life under control, she was drug out of bed - sleeping - put on a plane, and hand-delivered to the stage.  When she went on that stage and completely botched the performance, a last-stitch effort to have some control in a life run wild, the media crucified her.  The world consumed her, chewed her up and spit her out all for our own entertainment.  And ultimately a person was lost.

There are many examples of how we do this.  Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus stand out as two recent ones, although if you are old like me you'll remember when Britney Spears went off the deep end for a time.  And many, many more besides them have all been prey to the culture of consumption.  Maybe Kanye West is crazy.  Maybe he has gone off the deep end.  But we can never forget that he is a real person, not a product to be consumed.  However he wants to live his life, we can either agree with or disagree with. But we should be weary when we criticize and condemn, belittle and tear down that there is a real person behind all of this, who deserves to be treated with the same dignity as anybody else.  I don't know much about Kanye West, but I do know he is a person.  And I know that he deserves the same dignity as you and me.


  1. Awesome post .

  2. This is really good! I didn't see the "rant", but I do believe in giving the benefit of the doubt and dignity for each person. God bless you!