Call For Comments: Do We Need To Talk About Kanye?

From Mav: A few days ago, friend of the show (and host of the Handsome Genius Club Radio Show) Kingdom James texted me asking if I wanted to do a crossover episode where we talk about Kanye West’s recent nonsense. So I sat down to write it, but wasn’t feeling quite inspired, so I figured I’d do it later. That was last week… and it was like THREE FUCKING KANYE SCANDALS AGO! And I just can’t keep up!

When Kingdom first proposed the episode, it was to talk about this thing where Kanye in his infinite wisdom decided to make a “white lives matter” line of clothing. I didn’t think I wanted to devote a whole show just to Kanye nonsense. Kanye was pronounced a jackass by presidential decree like two administrations ago! I talked with my cohosts about how maybe we could use this to spin to a talk about the idea of reappropriating ideological iconography for antithetical movements. There’s actually a lot we could get into about this… Not just the #BlackLivesMatter being stolen by blues and whites but how it happens in both conservative and liberal circles. There was also a corollary Monica had about how slogan T-shirts don’t really count as fashion. We also talked about maybe talking about dual consciousness with Kanye’s weird thing where he sort of inhabits the imagery of lower working class African-American despite having never really been in that circumstance, and certainly not at all now. It was a loose set of ideas that I was trying to work out for a Call For Comments, but it was starting to feel like maybe it was a show.

But then before I got around to writing it, Kanye went on the Tucker Carlson show and just went on a stream of nonsense that made realize that we could no longer talk about Kanye in reference to greater systemic racial and political problems. He’s just too much a problem in and of himself. If anything maybe he’s a question of how much do we allow problematic behavior due to fairly obvious mental illness to affect our understanding of an artist’s work? Maybe we could speak to the question of “does Kanye’s musical genius rise to the level that we can overlook his lifetime of jackassery?” and if not, is such a thing even possible? Maybe we can look at the likes of say Ezra Miller as well?

But see, Kanye can’t quit. Before I got around to writing that, Kanye had to go off and make a bunch of antisemitic remarks on social media, getting him temporarily blocked from both Twitter and Instagram. He’s oscillating between your standard antisemitic “jews are controlling the media” hate speech and this weird thing where he thinks black people can’t be antisemitic because we’re actually jewish too…. And… it’s just, like… Ok, clearly at this point Kanye is just determined to get himself milkshake ducked, right? Like this is what he wants? There’s hardly any other logic to it. Because he’s doesn’t even seem to be going for the Donald Trump “controversy is always good strategy” trolling. He’s losing EVERYONE! Like FoxNews is now condemning him after hero worshipping him like THREE DAYS AGO. It works if you’re picking up an audience. Trump might piss off the libs, but he picks up the MAGAheads, and that’s an audience. The only person who seems to like Kanye this week is Elon Musk… and when that’s your only audience, I think maybe you should start to rethink your stance. Part of me has been going with the logic that Kanye — like a lot of dumbass conspiracy theorists — thinks that by going with the contrary opinion that means that he’s a one-percenter… some kind of free thinker that sees things others can’t. And he’s spoken to this before.

But I don’t think we’re even there now. I don’t think we can talk Kanye as a troll or a conspiracy theorist or troll. I don’t think he makes a good statement about racism, antisemitism, or classism or ideological reappropriating in general. He’s moved beyond talk of capitalist appropriation of ideology for profit as well. And I don’t think he’s really a good sample case to discuss mental illness anymore. Not in any reasonable clinical way. Like we’re out of the diagnosable pathology point. We’re just at “he’s fucking nuts.”

And yet… he still is interesting. Maybe?

So I ask you… do we need to talk about Kanye? Is that something people want to hear us discuss? And if so? What about him?

7 Comments and 1 Webmention for “Call For Comments: Do We Need To Talk About Kanye?”

  1. This is really a continuation of the “What do we do with the work of horrible people” episode you did a while back. Worth mentioning specifically about this asshole is that he has more social media followers than there are actual Jews in the world, which makes his antisemitism particularly dangerous. Also of note in the bigger picture is the breakdown of reactions and reactions to the reactions – the first responses I saw to his recent bullshit were from Black accounts, followed by Jewish accounts (including Black Jews). Some mainstream white accounts were acting as if there was radio silence, followed by Black accounts pushing back at them for not paying attention to their responses.

  2. Yes. This might be a stretch, but I do think he’s a sort of object lesson in the way that mental illness intersects with conspiracism. Consider the consequences if he was just some dude who did not have a platform to be heard. & then, of course, there’s much to talk about in terms of the intersectionality of racism(s) & blackness. I think his influence (& this might be a stretch) & illness link up with ideas of stochastic terrorism/politics/mental illness in some very peculiar ways. So, yeah, do the episode.

  3. I mean, ever since “George Bush doesn’t care about black people!” during the hurricane relief fundraiser we knew he was at best unhelpful when speaking his mind. Even in the case that what he says might be true, it’s not generally valuable, and most of the time it’s not even that. I think, to me, a discussion of his antics would be less interesting than most of your topics.

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