Kanye goes crazy
Nick Anderson | Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Last night, the Twittering hordes showed the true power of their social networking site of choice. Rage flowed from the keyboards and cell phones of the 12- to 17-year-old demographic.
What could evoke such a flurry of keystrokes? Only something truly awful: Kanye West.
Swooping down onto the stage at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards with a shiny popped collar and shades to protect his true identity, West acted the role of the villain. Like a prophet of his own point of view, he announced to a perplexed audience that Beyonce had made one of the greatest music videos of all time and deserved to win the award for best female video. Not satisfied with forcing everyone to listen to his opinion, West laid the crazy on thick by making this important declaration during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech.
Cue a booing off stage and a standing ovation for Swift.
We’ll never be quite sure what Kanye’s motivation was. It could have been a blatant strategy to garner publicity, a strange attempt at honoring the late, great ODB or possibly a commitment to what he saw as the truth.
Impressively, this barely cracks the top five for Kanye’s craziest moments. Let’s take a look at a few of the times he has come dangerously close to breaking the crazy-ometer.
In August 2005, West was on the verge of becoming a household name. He had just released his sophomore album “Late Registration” and was quickly gaining commercial and critical momentum. Then, at a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief, he uttered these words: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” The statement was inflammatory, but it also rang true with many people. It arose from the pain, frustration, and sorrow felt by a particular community. It was crass, but it was also heartfelt. At this point, Kanye was still a legitimate social critic, not yet the raging boor that he is now.
With his reputation not yet firmly entrenched in pop culture, West wisely took an extended break from crazy public statements. Nevertheless, sporadic tantrums at award shows turned up from time to time. West stormed the stage at the European Music Awards after losing to Justice. Several priceless quotes were cropped from this appearance, including, “This video cost a million dollars. I had Pam Anderson and I was jumping across canyons,” and, “If I don’t win, the award show loses.” Again, it was a passionate, heartfelt and impulsive response to a current situation, but this time it was much more selfish.
By the time 2009 showed up, West had given up all concern with others’ opinions. This resulted in an amazing album, “808s and Heartbreak,” but also in some of the strangest public displays and statements since Elvis got fat. West declared his position on writing: “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books.” This happened shortly after writing one of his own, a 52-page, wisdom-spewing work containing such gems as “I hate the word hate,” and “Get use [sic] to being used!”
His interviews provided even more smatterings of brilliance, firmly centered on his inflated ego. From a hotel room in Paris, he made his most audacious pronouncement ever, stating, “I was forced to change my name to Martin Louis the King, Jr. Address me as such.” This was clearly a natural combination of the names of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Louis Vuitton, the designer who had just launched a line of Kanye West footwear. This was followed soon after by his claim to be the voice of our generation. Self-confidence is definitely not a problem for this man.
West’s act at the VMAs was classless, but not very surprising. He has realized that he has now reached the point of no return for a celebrity. He is going to be famous no matter what he does, and he takes advantage of that to do whatever he wants. The results are consistently entertaining; at least we can be thankful for that.