Rapper Kanye West has been the butt of everyone’s jokes for the past two weeks after he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. In case you’re among the nine people who didn’t see or hear about this, West climbed up on stage, took the microphone from Swift’s hands and essentially proclaimed that she didn’t deserve the award because “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”
Nearly everyone who’s seen the outburst has taken the opportunity to make fun of West. Justin Timberlake, Saturday Night Live and even Barack Obama are among the many to take shots at him. One joke labeled as “breaking news” circulated over the Internet last week and claimed that West had just interrupted Patrick Swayze’s funeral to say that Michael Jackson’s service was, of course, one of the best of all time.
So despite his many awards, hit singles and high-selling albums, West now finds himself in America’s doghouse, doing his time as the public’s punching bag until someone else does something dumb and makes the VMAs old news.
But I would like to enter a plea of insanity on Mr. West’s behalf. He’s clearly insane — so insane, in fact, that I’m surprised we didn’t catch it earlier.
What’s that? You don’t think he’s insane? Look at his hair and say that with a straight face. The man practically has a maze shaved on his scalp. Technically, it’s a collection of random squares, circles and squiggles.
The lines are neatly cut; I’ll give him that. But designs like that are best suited for Aztec ruins, kindergarten art class and ‘80s-style pants — not your head.
Considering his current hair and recent antics, it’s almost as if Kanye’s been crying out to the public and trying to disclose his insanity. But as we shrugged each outburst, he simply became more extreme, subconsciously hoping we’d eventually take notice.
He started off subtly in interviews. First he’d say that he was the best rapper in “the game.” Then he bumped it up to world’s greatest musician. But when we mistook those remarks for mere arrogance, he anointed himself a creative genius, surely implying all the stereotypes regarding mental illness associated with that title.
He could have remained true to crazy genius form and simply cut his ear off. That would have got our attention immediately. But he didn’t, and we went along thinking he’s just incredibly cocky and obnoxious — but not crazy.
And that’s why no one seemed to care when he jumped up on stage at the European version of the VMAs in 2006. That time, he insisted the host was joking when his name wasn’t called for best male video. He angrily added that the award show would lose its credibility if his video didn’t win because it cost a million dollars and co-starred Pam Anderson. Seriously.
He’s frequently stated that he sees music. He was arrested at LAX for destroying a tabloid photographer’s camera and delayed his own concert in ’07 to say that the Dixie Chicks unfairly won a Grammy for song of the year. What did Kanye think should have won? Crazy, by Gnarls Barkley, coincidentally.
Since his on-air criticism of President Bush after Hurricane Katrina, West has consistently made a fool of himself with increasingly stupid antics. But I believe those were all a result of his clear-cut insanity, his inner crazy crying out to expose the truth that his extreme ego keeps contained.
It’s over though, Kanye. Now we know — you’re totally nuts. But you’re also a creative genius, and because of that we shouldn’t expect complete sanity from you. It would take away from your brilliance.
Personally, I’m not sure it takes a creative genius to cut up and rework a Chaka Khan song or add a new drum beat to “I Want You Back.” I would guess most 9th graders could do that with the right software. But I’ll take your word for it, Kanye, because I’m not as smart as you. None of us are.
We’re not on your level, and we don’t know what you’re going through. We’ll never know what it’s like to be a musical Einstein searching for balance between the real world and the musical “visions” running wild in your head.
We misjudged you, Kanye. We thought you were just a jerk, but it turns out you’re a crazy jerk. You didn’t deserve the backlash you received. Forget Taylor Swift; you’re the real victim here.
So, on behalf of me and my fellow mortals, I would like to issue you an apology for criticizing your actions at the VMAs. We were set on ruining your career, but now we know better. A zig-zag-haired genius like yourself clearly can’t be held accountable for his actions.
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