Everywhere I look these days, I see something along the lines of:
BLAH BLAH BLAH KANYE WEST! BLAH BLAH BLAH SOMETHING ELSE ABOUT KANYE WEST! BLAH BLAH BLAH HAVE WE MENTIONED KANYE WEST? BLAH-BITTY BLAH.
I’m sorry to add to this overabundant fray, but I think it’s important to note that if you read anything about Kanye, you should read Nitsuh Abebe’s review of the album and Mike Barthel’s take on how West has basically turned himself into a robot.
I think what both of these pieces touch upon is how our current culture is obsessed with the individual. Abebe also gets into the dichotomy of individualism vs. team work, pointing out that we as a society tend to work in extremes and West’s often bizarre behavior is a composite of what occurs when these oppositions clash.
To personalize this post a bit, I work in corporate America and am often stunned and confused as to the series of mixed messages I receive. Somehow I am supposed to put the company ahead of my own needs, while at the same time prioritizing whatever talent I have and making sure that said talent catches the eye of my superiors. I imagine you’d be hard-pressed to find ANY workplace that is not preaching this backwards “logic” in one form or another.
Then, I watch crops of young interns roll in ever few months or so; each young person believing that they contain some sort of inherent specialness that will separate them from the crowd. They honestly believe that one blog post, one email from the right person, just that one chance to grab a spot on camera will change their entire lives. It’s like a call to become worn-out reality television contestants. It’s a death wish.
As Barthel points out, Kanye didn’t become a superstar in a flash of blinding light like some sort of phoenix. (See what I did there?) He entered the industry as most people tend to do: WITH A JOB. Perhaps it seems ridiculous of me to be comparing Kanye West to an everyday work situation with a regular 9-5 and interns and such, but as I mentioned above, I find that West is an exaggeration of certain flaws in our culture’s beliefs.
What is most interesting about My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is that it could almost be viewed as a warning: THIS WHOLE SHTICK IS NOT WHAT IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE. Whatever Kanye is, he’s certainly not happy. How many times has he referenced his own loneliness in the past few days on his frickin’ Twitter account?! He is disenfranchised, without any sense of community. No matter how many gold laurel wreaths he can afford to wear, he is still without any type of contentment.
As I mentioned previously, I find Kanye to be a very sad figure right now. Read the Barthel piece. HE’S NOT EVEN HUMAN ANYMORE. He’s turned himself into an ideal, the goal of the American dream: fame, fortune, you name it. And it’s cost him a terrible price.
And I can’t help but think he remains somewhat oblivious. Here is a person who has rearranged the world so he can do whatever he wants. And what does he do with his time instead? He clamors for the public’s attention like some sort of overgrown child. He’s at the point where his fame doesn’t dictate this type of recognition either. It’s now its own animal. Kanye is free to do whatever he likes! But he won’t. Because he’s lonely. It’s sad, no?
In the meantime, what are we doing? We’re running around hatching plans, dreaming up ways that we can be just like this guy, thinking that the next Tweet to the right person will elevate us to some kind of status symbol where everyone will just ADORE us, while Kanye is screaming about his own unhappiness; his own separation from everyone. It defies common sense.
Apologies. I know this sounds preachy and I can’t be sure whether I mean it to or not. It’s just that… this type of thinking… this manifestation of the individual over the common good… it doesn’t create interesting people! It makes us all little boring clones, foaming at the mouth for something we’re not even sure that we’ll want if, and WHEN, we get it.
IT’S SO DEPRESSING.