In 2012 Kanye West introduced most of the world to Chief Keef, via the G.O.O.D. Music remix of Keef’s local hit “I Don’t Like.” (I know, I know, you knew about Keef before Kanye, but most of America can’t touch your impeccable blog game.) This was something of a confusing move at the time, at least for me; the remix wasn’t an improvement by any means, and it had been a while since Kanye had shown significant interest in preserving his Chicago affiliations, but there he was, shouting out all the local rappers, putting on a 17-year-old kid from one of the most fucked up neighborhoods in the country. But I know why Kanye did the remix now (and I think he knows he didn’t improve upon the original either). He needed to confront white America with what they presumed at the time was their worst nightmare: a young black male who grew up in hell and no longer gave a single fuck, who used unfamiliar words and rapped about guns and money and drugs. You know, rapper stuff. (NOTE: When I say “white America” please know I am not being all-inclusive. Like, fuck, I’m white, I get that there are many white people who fully support and understand the racial and socio-political issues at hand here, and that I am being reductive by dichotomizing it into simply “black” vs “white” to begin with. Consider it shorthand for the type of non-black American unconcerned by or complicit in the perpetuation of these issues.)In reality though, Chief Keef isn’t white America’s worst nightmare. Because while he scares the living shit out of them in person, he fits neatly into the trope that many racist white Americans need young black men to fit into: violent, uneducated, aimless. They expect this kind of character, and in turn know how to strip him of his humanity, dismiss him, and avoid him. Kanye West is white America’s worst nightmare. Because as much as one may attempt to dismiss him—by calling him an asshole or classless or deranged or various other adjectives that fill the comment sections of literally every article about him—you still have to turn on your regularly scheduled late night comedy program and stare him in the face. You can’t avoid Kanye. He’s made very sure of that.
SENSITIVE THUG: WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA? WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA? WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA? WHO WILL SURVIVE IN AMERICA?
This is excellent, read it in full. On the Kardashian bit in particular:
- Every era, for centuries, has had its few celebrities or cultural products whose name people who are neither as enlightened nor as funny as they think invoke as, with implied caps, THE DOWFALL OF SOCIETY. Who they end up being depends on a lot of factors: winner-takes-all name recognition by tabloid-cover or headline-feed or ad-placement osmosis (which is why Miley Cyrus is an example and Demi Lovato is not); their appeal to 13-year-old girls (which is why boy bands are reviled en masse and by name and, I dunno, Myspace emo is not); their appeal to 40-year-old women in Middle America (which is why Fifty Shades of Grey is an example and James Patterson* is not); and then race, implied class and/or new money, weight, etc., meaning a large portion of the backlash here comes from people using “Kardashian” as a synecdoche for “THE DOWNFALL OF AMERICAN CULTURE, AS EMBODIED BY NON-WASPY, NON-TINY, DOWNMARKET-CODING WOMEN.”
- Go a step farther and you find the people who criticize Kanye West dating a celebrity to juice his own celebrity, in the music and out. It seems like a fairer, more thought-out point until you notice everyone they are or were silent about, namely every celebrity couple, because this is how celebrity couples work by industry default. (And have since forever. Read history, of any era; if you want convenience and relative recency, read Anne Helen Petersen’s Scandals of Classic Hollywood series. Nothing is new.) Since it’s Kanye we’re talking about, here’s a good example: Taylor Swift, who dropped Red while she dated a Kennedy and the most saleable One Direction member, and worked both of these into her music. Somehow none of the Kanye pundits brought the hand-waving freakoutery.***
* Yes, I know Patterson has institutional immunity, and that women also read him. I know because patterson, Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell make up about 60% of my mother’s reading habits, to the point where it’s a family joke that she won’t buy a book if there’s no murder in the title. This may explain a lot about me and my family.
** Kim codes white in relation to Kanye, but not entirely in general; it’s kind of like how Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is either white or not depending on who wants to make which point.
*** There was HWFO, but butthurt Louis Tomlinson stans are different than yuppies tsk-tsking about Kanye’s artistry being tainted.
I said it on Twitter, I’ll say it here: “A great read describing Kanye’s politics, basically comparing him to Batman.”
took the NYC TMZ bus tour. learned about celebs. won a t-shirt. a lady called swizz beatz “biz sweets”
WIKIPEDIA BEING WIKIPEDIA
Sometimes my comics end up in random Buzzfeed listicles. This is how I imagine they get written.
I know the big news of the night is Miguel sitting on a girl’s neck, but Dipset’s Byrd Lady just @’d me on Twitter about a joke I made eight months ago.
The Chris Gethard Show should replace Saturday Night Live next season.