Kanye 2020? Let’s Hope Not
I try to avoid watching MTV as much as possible. I do this because the MTV of the current is completely lacking in whatever made MTV great in the past. Gone are the overtly sexual music videos that meant so much to my adolescent eyes; the beautiful, grotesque artistry seen in the Liquid Television (namely Aeon Flux and Beavis and Butt-head, but there was other great stuff in there; the television shows where actual musicians were interviewed and featured rather than underage teenagers who don’t use condoms and blame everyone in the trailer park for it; and the era of awards shows that meant something to the pop culture fanatics.
Miley Cyrus hosted the VMAs (Video Music Awards) this past Sunday.
The television station did everything it could to hype up Ms. Cyrus through social media and commercials, but, really, who cares about her anymore? She had her moment in the spotlight, albeit twerking, and now she’s hanging onto the shock value for the sake of fame.
There were a lot of great acts performing and celebrities in attendance, but the big name each year is Kanye West.
Kanye West. People who haven’t even heard College Dropout think Kanye is a dick. Most of this is based on his consistent public scowl, and the fact that he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech a few years ago when he though Beyonce had a better video.
This year, Kanye was on the receiving end of the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. This is somewhat of a lifetime achievement award, and it has also been awarded to David Bowie, Madonna, LL Cool J, to name a few.
Kanye was given the podium to express gratitude for the award, but instead he took it upon himself to rant about everything. Typical Kanye shit.
I won’t take Kanye to task on what he said. Everyone knows this guy is an arrogant hypocrite who denounces corporate branding while endorsing his own shoe with Adidas that retails for $350.
What I do take to task is his final statement: “And yes, as you probably could have guessed by this moment, I have decided, in 2020, to run for President.”
Of all the stupid things you could say while receiving an award for making an impression on the world of pop culture, this takes the cake.
First off, no real artist could ever be President of the United States. As a close friend engaged me in this conversation, he stated that artists make statements and have opinions, which is hubris that a sitting President cannot possess.
Secondly, it’s Kanye West.
But back to the first point.
Artists are the perfect reflections of the present. The imagery, whether painted on canvas, through music, written, or otherwise, is always an immediate response to the current state of affairs. There is prophecy in art, and there is rarely reflection in the context of looking back.
Banksy, for instance, just opened Dismaland, a theme park mocking Disney Land and showing the truth in what’s really going on in the corporate world of corruption and deceit.
In response to horrendous amount of police-involved shootings this year alone, there are multitudes of spoken word artists sharing their experience, struggle, and the truth of what is really going on with systemic, institutional racism.
And it all happens so fast you can’t keep up with it. One week you are exuberant about changing your Facebook avatar to depict a rainbow flag showing your support of the LGBT community, and the next day you are reading about another victim of a hate-crime. And unlike the violence, your avatar will eventually change.
We won’t have a President that can take a stand on matters that really affect the public. And as much as I wish that “won’t” didn’t exist in that previous statement, the truth of the matter is that it should probably be replaced with “can’t.”
What Kanye can’t seem to see, but what true artists strive to encompass, is the aggregate. How can one person sit by and watch as the country slowly decapitate itself through the flood negativity without doing anything? I don’t know all things Kanye – don’t spend time with him, hang out with him, watch him on TV, or really concern myself with his affairs after the release of Graduation – but I didn’t see him on the streets protesting with the people of Ferguson.
Sure, he once said on TV that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black People,” but he didn’t back it up with a picket line. He used a pretty big platform to talk down about the leader of the country, but all it did was create a meme and push him more into the spotlight of the villain role he’s become so comfortable with.
We’ve reached an odd time in civilization when people like Donald Trump are actually taken seriously when running for President of the United States. The mockery comes when people like Kanye West begin spouting off about running for President. And with that mockery comes a great fear that we will allow this to happen.
At what point does an artist actually begin inflicting pain on the audience in order to gain recognition? Being that we are so desensitized to aggression and violence now that we can view murder on the Internet, are we that desensitized to insult that we just accept it, share it, and move on?
Let’s hope not. !