Society has these imaginary forces that constantly duel for dominance and continue to keep everything in motion – good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, etc. The issue with these forces is that the vast majority of members of commercial societies participate actively while remaining relatively oblivious to the “gears and motors” that turn our world.
I had the opportunity to watch MTV’s Video Music Awards tonight with intentions of enjoying yet another tribute to Michael Jackson and watching another highly anticipated performance by my favorite artist, Jay Z. Little did I know in the beginning that all of my intentions would be easily eclipsed by this:
I’m sure by now that it is common knowledge in the world of Pop that Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift during her VMA acceptance speech to downplay her reception of the award and to acknowledge the artist that he truly felt deserved the award. His actions were greeted by immediate disapproval in the form of “boos” and other jeers, character assassination via Facebook, Twiiter and many other social networking sites and ejection from the venue. I must say that I agree Kanye’s timing was horrible and his actions seemed quite immature, but I couldn’t help but wonder why this elicited such the reaction that it received.
From birth, we are all socialized to become the people that we are and a part of that socialization includes the inherent learned knowledge of right vs wrong and good vs evil. Whether from your family, schools, television or even the internet, these leanings take root as a part of our personality. This then means that when an event like the one at VMA’s presents itself, it strikes a chord with our sense of morality and we instantaneously choose sides. This does not come without consequence in that we begin to attack or judge the character of the person or idea that opposes our grasp of what is right. So why is this an issue?
Let’s consider this. In the midst of all of the name calling, and disgust in Kanye’s actions, did anyone take a moment to analyze why he felt the need to do what he did? Did anyone consider the totality of the person that is Kanye West (the artist, unless you know him personally) and understand how this plays into the whole scenario? Can we distinguish how he acted from his intentions? A true follower of Kanye West fully understands that he is a very artistic, hip hop fundamentalist. When I say this, I mean that he is a product of and a current driving force of the culture and it’s important to note that within the last few years, we have seen hip hop rise to dominance as an influence on pop culture. Being a fundamentalist of the culture would then encourage a desire to see the art maintain its integrity and purity.
We also have to consider that MTV has one of the biggest influences on pop culture in America. When MTV bestows an award on an individual or piece of work, this gesture has the power to subconsciously program millions of people and manipulate the destinies of many people. So we now find a purveyor of his culture taking an inopportune moment to salvage what he felt should have been right in the eyes of the masses. He didn’t seek to take the award from Taylor Swift, but he wanted to acknowledge that another video should recognized as one of most important videos of the century (thus far). I’m not much of a Beyonce fan, but the “Single Ladies” video crossed so many lines and affected more people than many other videos in recent history. It’s important to note here that past awards shows have seen Kanye express his disappointment for not winning awards that he thought he deserved (a few I’ve agreed with) and giving away awards that he thought he didn’t deserve (Outkast/UGK).
I’ve heard so many people call Kanye an “idiot” or a “nut” and talk about how wrong he was, but it seems that this only extends to what he did. Did his opinion actually have merit? I saw so many Twitter and Facebook updates that attacked and judged him, but there was no real discussion on the idea he established. This all just reinforces my opinion that the masses in Pop culture tend to generally have no opinion of their own that can be soundly backed by logic and reason. They tend to just sway with whatever the big machine (MTV, radio, etc) tells us is hot. Many great artists never see great success because they can’t afford it (remember the recent radio payola lawsuits) or we collectively don’t demand anything different. Kanye stood up for what he believed. Kanye Goes Hard… And I’m Rolling With Him.