Can we all finally agree that Kanye is an overrated nutjob? For years, it’s been my unpopular opinion that Kanye is high on marketing, low on talent. As you might expect, this has negatively affected opinions of me at parties; and probably sunk a few friendships too.
Friends and fans usually ask me, “Well, what about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?” And I have to say that was exactly the album that lost me. What many people saw as “raw and real”, I saw as celebrity escapism and self-aggrandizement. It was clear to me that Kanye West wanted to be a man, a myth and a legend. Even if his marketing team was the one cultivating his mystique.
Over the next few years, we saw Kanye go off the rails. From the batshit crazy tweets to the $120 plain white T-shirts, to the claims of being a civil rights leader despite looking out for himself only. After the expensive San Jose show where he played a few songs and spent the rest of the time bitching, many of my adently pro-Kanye friends started to give up on the guy.
Before we move to Kanye’s most recent political outbursts, I think it’s important to note that I don’t hate Kanye or wish him ill. He’s just an artist to me. One I happen not to connect with, but plenty of people do. If the Yeezus album is your cure to a bad day, don’t let me or anyone else stop you from enjoying it. Just be aware of the ideology and paradigms that Kanye represents and the blind spots his philosophy necessitates.
As most of you probably know, Kanye made some disheartening remarks lately. Beyond the pro-Trump tweets and defenses of convicted rapist Bill Cosby, Kanye has also claimed slavery was a choice.
Understandably, this left a lot of folks scratching their heads: Why would a black American like Kanye defend slavery? Why would he choose to whitewash America’s racial history?
However, these statements are not at all surprising if you understand Kanye’s worldview. Kanye's ego-stroking ideology makes him a perfect candidate for whitewashing history. If you believe that everything good that happens to you is brought on by your positive energy, then you necessarily believe that bad things are brought on by your bad energy.
In other words, slaves were (and are) slaves by choice. They could – using positive energy alone – free themselves and become influential (read: wealthy) and powerful people, like Kanye.
Kanye's ideology also fits in extremely well into conspiracies, cults, religions, New Age woo and the right-wing politics. Generally speaking, Republicans and conservatives believe that anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they simply work hard and play by the rules. Kanye believes that's what he did. And everyone else can do it too, if only they'd free themselves. Hence, his idiotic comments.
Beliefs necessitate certain conclusions; but people rarely take other people’s beliefs into account. You might think "Oh Kanye is black. Why would a black person say that?" The confusion comes from, poorly applied identity politics. In other words, focusing on Kanye’s skin color rather than on the opinions that shape his worldview.
Kanye is suffering from an ideological blindspot, in which he ignores the very real suffering of other people in favor of his own aggrandizement.
Of course, Kanye isn’t the only celebrity to fall into this trap. Nor does one need to be a wealthy celebrity to engage in such behavior. And this is not to say that the law of attraction is completely false; or that a belief in positive thinking is stupid; or that hard work never leads to success. These are strawman arguments that only tie us up in armchair philosophies and social media arguments rather than working to effect real change in the world.
If you want to change society, it’s not enough to be the loudest opinion on Twitter. The goal is to actually affect change. So instead of bitching and moaning about Kanye’s stupid comments, find an organization in your area working to improve the living conditions of Americans in need. Volunteer your time or your money to a cause that matters. Because the only way to win, is to act rather than complain.
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