Kanye must like Kim, because Kanye doesn't do publicity for publicity's sake. Or, to put it another way: Kanye's fling with Kim couldn't possibly be a publicity stunt, because Kanye has no idea how to manipulate the press. What?
Let's take Kanye's peculiar brand of jack-assery, to quote Obama. After Kanye infamously stage-crashed Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs, Kanye ran home and apologized on his blog ("EVERYBODY WANNA BOOOOO ME BUT I'M A FAN OF REAL POP"). Kanye apologized for the incident several more times. A few weeks later, he canceled a much-anticipated tour with Lady Gaga. And one year later, he was still apologizing, announcing via Twitter that he had written "a song for Taylor Swift that's so beautiful and I want her to have it."
All of these mea culpas could be seen as an effort to restore public opinion if it weren't for a disastrous appearance on the "Today" show in November 2010 that showed Kanye losing his temper once again. In the interview, Matt Lauer grilled Kanye about his "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comments before replaying the VMA incident. "Yo, how am I supposed to talk if you're going to run this thing in the middle," a clearly peeved Kanye spat out. He then took to Twitter to criticize the producers for a "very brutal" interview and waxed some curious "I feel very alone very used very tortured" poetry.
Entertainment aside, Kanye's foot-in-mouth syndrome appears to come from a genuine place. He's transparent and earnest and definitely not media-savvy. On the contrary, he's a hothead who acts spontaneously in the moment and then apologizes for his "mistakes" for years to come. These are not the actions of a man who is coolly cultivating a positive public image. These are the actions of a man who probably could use some editing and a chill pill.
And there's more. Call it the George Clooney syndrome: Just as Clooney has fawned over Brad and Angelina to the point where they might as well adopt him as their own child, so has Kanye become the slightly creepy third party to another high-profile couple -- Jay-Z and Beyonce, who recently celebrated the birth of their first child and fourth wedding anniversary. When Beyonce announced her pregnancy at the MTV Awards Show in August last year, the camera panned to a clearly excited Jay... and a clearly excited Kanye, jumping up and down with unabandoned glee. A good friend? Sure. But one has to wonder whether Kanye, eight years his mentor Jay's junior, also seeks a female companion who could ostensibly fit the mold of Beyonce: a female mogul with a formidable business and brand -- the kind of woman who could win the title of People's "Most Beautiful Person Of The Year." As a recent US Weekly story put it, Kanye is looking for a Bey to his Jay.
But one crucial difference remains: Beyonce has carved a career out of being a brilliant artist and performer, while Kim is famous for, well, nothing other than being famous.
This latter bit is exacerbated by the fact that Kanye's demonstrated such impeccable artistic taste. He hired Japanese artist Takashi Murakami to design the cover for "Graduation" and consistently defies genres, sampling anything from Daft Punk to Otis Redding to Norwegian indie band Peter Bjorn and John. The original (and eventually banned) cover art for 2010's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" was painted by American artist George Condo -- the same artist who enjoyed a critically-lauded solo exhibition at the New Museum a few months after the album's release. One wonders what on earth Kanye has to say about Kim's barely-trying single, "Jam (Turn It Up)."
Kanye's other public girlfriend involved an off-again, on-again relationship with a then-unknown model, Amber Rose. Amber was always more edgy and avant-garde than Kim was: her shaved head, stripper past and modeling contract seemed to represent a kind of counterculture Kanye fans could get behind. But even then, the relationship was cut short by an alleged affair with a third party: Kim Kardashian.
Jackassery of that magnitude -- even when it's alleged jackassery -- surely can't be just for show. In music, in jackassery, in love, Kanye is always for real.