There are two kinds of people in this world: those who agree with Kanye and those who don't. He said it himself in last night's poignant interview with Jimmy Kimmel: "You're going to love me, or you're going to hate me, but I'm going to be me."
Regardless of how you feel about Kanye, you can certainly appreciate the sincerity and candid manner in which he spoke. In today's state of "hyper-media," everyone with a Twitter or Facebook account can share their opinion with everyone they haven't spoken to since high school graduation in real time. Both talent and their respective publicists have been scared into giving kosher interviews, playing it safe whenever possible in an effort to avoid social media (and almost equally immediate overall media) backlash. While Kanye addressed the issues at hand with a completely straight face, Kimmel laughed nervously and tried his best to make light of issues that in reality are actually serious and are overdue for discussion.
Kanye used the normally comedic show as a serious platform to shed light on the highlights of his previous interview with Zane Lowe of the BBC, most notably his desire to be taken seriously in the fashion industry, his ego, and his ongoing battle with the paparazzi. Despite his success in the music, he is an underdog both in the world of media and in the world of fashion. The public would rather paint him as an egomaniac than value the honesty in his (rare) interviews and respect the time and effort he devotes to fashion. He makes plenty of great points regarding classism as well, which in his eyes, has replaced racism as the ultimate roadblock of his success.
In an 8-minute soliloquy Kanye showed what true honesty in a mainstream interview can be. He not only defended himself against the mockery Kimmel had made of his previous attempt to be sincere on the BBC, but gave America legitimate reasons to see things from his perspective for once. Maybe it's time that we all stop focusing on his constant feuds with the paparazzi and take a good hard look at the violation of privacy we glorify in our culture. (In his BBC interview he raises the question of how he should explain to his daughter that people are taking her picture to make money and why she's not getting paid for the usage of her image. What would you tell your child?) Maybe it's time for the fashion community and its consumers to admit that he's paid his dues in that world and his creative vision deserves to be recognized on the same level as designers he already considers peers. Perhaps his contribution to music, both as an artist and a producer, should be seen as genius, as well as he himself. After all, while many of his counterparts have remained stagnant, putting out interchangeable records containing limited lyrical content, range, and creativity, Kanye has allowed himself to truly evolve as an artist- each release sounding entirely different than the next, all while maintaining one cohesive theme per album. Even on a single record he is able to incorporate a dance track, the rap equivalent of a ballad, a pop song, an anthem, and many more spanning a wide spectrum in tempo, sample use, and concept. Anyone who knows anything about current hip hop knows the same cannot be said of his peers. He used Kimmel's show to exercise his right to be assertive, something we all deserve when a situation calls for it.
Amongst the myriad of statements he made that sent Twitter and Facebook accounts into a hurricane of opinions, one that particularly stands out is his defense of girlfriend (and mother of his child) Kim Kardashian's right to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This is completely justified regardless of what you think of Kim -- those stars are "public monuments of achievement in the entertainment industry," one of which she has undoubtedly earned after not only maintaining eight seasons (six years) of Keeping Up With The Kardashians but also providing a platform for several spin-offs and endless content for SNL, E! News, Entertainment Tonight and a slew of other shows that constantly use her to fill air time. That's not including the entire tabloid industry she's basically kept afloat in this country for the better part of the past few years, and all the websites relentlessly posting about her while raking in advertising money.
The idea that reality stars who have influenced culture with the magnitude Kim has should be excluded is dated. Of the more than 2,500 stars that comprise the Walk of Fame, you'd be hard up find anyone who can recognize even half of them and cite what it is they earned their star for. There have been several stars given to public figures with no direct relation to movies or radio including several athletes, inventors and even fictional characters (The Wizard of Oz's Munchkins have their own star, as do several Muppets). It seems only fair that Kim get one as well.
Regardless of how you feel about Kim, Kanye's aside about the star was both romantic and thoughtful. His overall honesty was admirable and if not anything else it should inspire us to reflect on our culture and ourselves. We could all stand to be a little more honest with others and ourselves. We could all put a little more effort into building an open minded society so someday our children won't have to fight just for the chance to have opportunities they already deserve.
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