“There’s Leaders and There’s Followers”
He’s hated by society; he’s loved by himself. He’s a man of God, but considers himself a god. Kanye West does whatever is necessary to express the truth, even if it comes off in an inappropriate way, or if he’s criticized by half the country. West doesn’t try to give people what they want, however he gives them what they need. People need to see the world in a different perspective, and West helps them see it. He sheds light on social inequality, the negative effects of the media, and racism. Unfortunately, Kanye West is hated for being who he is.
Kanye West utilizes his music to represent minorities, and express social and economic inequality within our country. Instead of sitting around, and watching problems happen on his television, West uses his platform to draw attention to the issue. With explicit lyrics, and appearances in the media, he tends to speak on behalf of his race, and portray what’s wrong with today’s world. Hurricane Katrina was a severe storm that hit the Gulf Coast of the United States on August, 2005. The storm left thousands of people homeless and with insufficient amount of food. George Bush, unaware of all the damages, provided a lack of help and necessities to the people affected by the storm. During a television fundraiser for the people affected by Hurricane Katrina, Kanye starts discussing the problems of the way the media portrayed the issue. Eventually, he goes off script to add on that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Kanye uses any way to get his point and the truth across, whether it’s professional or provocative. With this statement, he stands for all the Black people at hand, as a citizen, instead of a rap artist. “In that vein, Kanye West, as a cultural icon, uses his music, knowledge, public relations skills and finesse, in tandem with mass media, to reach key audiences in an effort to educate, empower and attract mainstream audiences.” (Cole 197) While most rappers are using their music to promote gang violence, sex, and drugs, Kanye West is making music to represent for minorities and inform society about the racial inequality that is going on. Even though he comes across as arrogant, you have to admit that he actually stands for something meaningful, and wants to make a change in the world. “As a polysemic signifier, Kanye represents many fantasies for black male youth.” (Cole 201) West inspires black kids that they could succeed, and maybe even be rich. He is a role model for the youth, and provides a positive outlook on life. Without people like Kanye West in the music industry, our youth would be corrupted with negativity and lies.
Society doesn’t understand Kanye West, so they often mock his actions, and degrade his character, in a humorous way. After a celebrity makes a fool out of themselves, people enjoy making spoofs and memes, an amusing picture shared to the internet, about them. These jokes cause people to view a person as a laughingstock, instead of a professional. Kanye West’s arrogant personality, and his stunts on television appearances and award shows, make people view him as a disrespectful and aggressive person. “On September 15, Comedy Central played the “Fishsticks” episode of “South Park,” which portrays Kanye West as a violent, illiterate idiot, four times in a row.” (Brown, Yeezy Rising). South Park is a very comical show, that very often pokes fun at serious incidents that happen in today’s society. This episode made people see West in a less serious manner, and more like a fool. “In an incredible interview he gave Zane Lowe of BBC 1 Radio in September of 2013, he said, “Every time my name goes up, there’s a series of people that write negative comments—they wanna joke around and say, why is he still trying?…They dis me as a person for still trying [even though] I’ve brought ten years of products to the world.” (Brown, Yeezy Rising) The media doesn’t appreciate all that Kanye West has provided for the world, musically and fashion wise. Everybody just wants to ruin his image, and judge him off the negative things he’s done. This reminds me of the Christopher Nolan movie, “The Dark Knight”. The residents of Gotham City all blame Batman for Harvey Dent’s death, and want to see him as a villain, even though he’s saved the town of crime and danger for years. What is even more unbelievable is that even after the Zane Lowe interview, where Kanye discusses the fact that the media constantly makes fun of his actions, they also make fun of that interview. “...the Jimmy Kimmel Show aired a sketch that had two seven- or eight-year-old boys playing West and Zane reenact some of West’s most self-aggrandizing moments in the interview.” In that interview, Kanye West went on a rant explaining how people perceive him as ignorant, unaware of the fact that he’s “brought ten years of products to the world”. People give an image of false realities for him for either the laugh of it or their own lack of knowledge of him and for what he stands for. “A few months later, after West premiered the music video to “Bound 2” on Ellen, Seth Rogen and James Franco created a shot-by-shot spoof called “Bound 3.” (Brown, Yeezy Rising) West was just trying to provide people with art, and they just want to criticize him for it. People always hate on what they don’t understand, because it’s easier for them.
Kanye West tends to belittle the innocent, and what America finds important, which is a major part of why he’s hated. He feels as if he’s superior to everyone around him, and he will make sure that everyone knows it. West even made a song stating that he is a god, and he is above everybody else. “West candor—shown off best in the tense “I Am a God”—comes off as refreshing. It’s nice not to feel like he’s begging for your approval. It’s invigorating to listen to Kanye embrace his status as arrogant, self-important celebrity, rather than awkwardly trying to address his public missteps.” (McNally, Review) It’s important to realize that instead of Kanye challenging society's wrong doings, he is trying to change them with his character, even if it includes him being a little bit of an arrogant showboat. He embraces who he is, instead of who society wants to be. In the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift when she was receiving her award for “Best Female Video of the Year”, saying Beyonce deserved the award more than her. Mostly everyone who knows Kanye West, is aware of this incident. This controversial moment caused major conflicts between Kanye and the public. Taylor Swift is an innocent country singer, who is admired by most of America, so what Kanye did turned the nation against him. Everybody, even celebrities, began to criticize and “lynch” Kanye on social media. “Katy Perry tweeted, “FUCK U KANYE. IT’S LIKE U STEPPED ON A KITTEN.” And Pink, the seemingly angrier of the two, wrote a long series of tweets about the incident, describing Kanye as “the biggest piece of shit on earth” and a “douche bag,”. (Brown, Yeezy Rising). Everybody became extremely defensive for Taylor Swift, because of how sweet she is, as a female. However, what happened when it wasn’t an innocent White girl that Kanye insulted ? In the 2009 MTV Europe Music Awards, Kanye interrupted the band members of Justice when they were given their award, by ranting, and saying that he deserved the award for his music video, instead of them. People didn’t care when Kanye did this, because it wasn’t towards a female. Kanye West has been through many women in his life, which has changed him, and made him more vulgar and disrespectful towards females. “For much of Kanye’s lyrical performance, there is an attempt to pin down his suffering onto a repressive violence of emasculation that can be recuperated through the domination of the many women in his life — he would much rather be a dick than swallower.” (Fanon, Bound 2). He talks about women in such graphic terms and as if they’re below him, in order to recuperate his masculinity. Kanye portrays machismo and maleness in his lines, and would rather be a jerk than not say what he truly feels.
Kanye west is given this image of arrogance, but he is just misunderstood from the majority of society and in reality, he is just trying to give us a better perspective on life. It feels as if he gives off this vibration of hate and negativity, but he is just trying to show his listeners that you must not be the one to be controlled but the one to speak up as much as you want to. He expresses that you no matter how you do it, you must speak your truth, despite what anybody thinks. Kanye West is a hero for this generation, even though this generation is unaware of it.
Barno, Matt. "Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review." Kanye West on Civil Rights. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Brady, Nicholas. "Out Of Nowhere." Bound 2 (You) : A Black Study of Kanye West's Yeezus (2013). Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Brown, Tessa. "The American Reader." Yeezy Rising. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.
Cole, Hazel James. Kanye West : A Critical Analysis of Mass Media's Representation of a Cultural Icon's Rhetoric and Celebrity. Print.
McNally, James "Ethnomusicology Review." Review / Yeezus (2013). Web. 20 Nov. 2015.