When Kanye West took the mic from Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) and proclaimed that Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time, I was convinced that it was another MTV scripted “reality” moment.
That’s when celebrities started tweeting about the incident. Pink said, “Kanye West is the biggest piece of shit on earth.” Heidi Montag went so far as to say she “saw the devil in action.” It was then that I realized MTV had not planned one of the few entertaining moments of their otherwise horrendous two and a half hour show.
When P Diddy started reading the nominees for “Best Male Video,” the crowd booed and jeered angrily at the mention of “Kanye West,” who was nominated for his video “Love Lockdown.”
T.I. was also nominated. Currently, T.I. is in jail for illegally purchasing several machine guns and silencers. When T.I. was announced as a winner the crowd cheered and roared with enthusiasm for the rapper who “couldn’t be with us tonight.” Eventually the crowd stood to their feet in a prolonged ovation. Granted, Kanye interrupting Taylor Swift’s speech was both incredibly rude and disrespectful, but it was absolutely appalling at how loving the crowd was towards T.I., a convicted felon.
The next day the loathing feelings towards Kanye only grew exponentially. Tim McGraw told CMT Insider, “[Kanye] needs an ass whoopin’.” Later, Kelly Clarkson blogged a surprisingly vicious rant directed towards Kanye, stating “I’ve seen you do some pretty shitty things, but you just keep amazing me with your tactless, asshole ways. It’s absolutely fascinating how much I don’t like you. I like everyone. I even like my asshole ex that cheated on me over you…which is pretty odd since I don’t even know you.”
The celebrities who began to bash on Kanye seemed to forget that he ruined the VMAs for Taylor Swift and became more interested in insulting him. Their comments took on a life of their own.
Who was this man everyone seemed so hell-bent on ruining?
A proud “mama’s boy,” Kanye attended college for three semesters before dropping out to sign with Roc-A-Fella, which was reluctant to sign him because he doesn’t fit the typical rapper profile. He chooses to dress with preppy attire and never shied again from his middleclass upbringing with no pretense to gangsta ties. He encourages kids to follow through with their education. The Kanye West Foundation helps combat the severe drop problem in high schools by helping under-served students unleash their creative ability and reach their full potential by partnering with community organizations. One of Kanye’s self-described goals is “to inspire up-and-coming artists to go against the grain.”
This is the man the President chooses to call a “jackass” and radio stations ban? Kiss 95.1 in Florida announced they were removing all of Kanye’s music from their playlists. I wonder if they ever considered banning all the artists with overly violent or sexual songs, such as Lil Wayne’s provocative hit “Lollipop,” which was one of the top ten most played songs on the radio during 2008. I was reminded of how the audience did not boo, but clapped, when Wayne leaped up on stage to receive a Grammy for Best Rap Album of the Year. Wayne claims himself a member of the Bloods, the violent gang responsible for thousands of murders in Los Angeles. A red bandana hung from his jeans as he gave his Grammy speech.
Nevertheless, what upset me most was the way celebrities and other musicians were so quick to jump on the Kanye Hate-Wagon and rip him apart. True, Kanye was wrong to jump on stage (even if the show would’ve otherwise been a snoozer). Yet, here is an artist who wrote the song “Roses,” a bedside account of his experience when his grandmother was hospitalized. Kanye is one of the few artists we have today who relies on music, not image or a train wreck public life, to sell albums. His music spreads positively and Kanye is a walking example of how to have the confidence to believe in yourself.
In Greenwich Village, Kanye was willing to risk his “street cred” by standing up for gays after a consciousness-raising encounter in a clothing store. Meanwhile, all his colleagues seem passionate about is bashing him.
Musicians used to be passionate and have something to say. None of the celebrities self-righteously piling on Kanye, “nobly” ripping him to shreds with vicious comments, are willing to take a stance on anything of political importance. They won’t risk alienating a single fan by standing up for health care or holding Congressman Joe Wilson in check after his outburst during Obama’s speech. It’s time they get their perspective in check and take a stand for what’s actually important.