It's Like He Stepped On A Kitten:
by Alex Silveri
September 15th 2009 | 64 Comments
It’s been only a few days since, but 2009 has finally been imbued with its defining moment of pop culture. By now, everyone’s seen it: Little Taylor Swift, glistening in her silver dress under the glitz and dazzle of pop music’s most sacred spectacles, the MTV Video Music Awards, steps up to receive her Moon Man for Best Female Video. She ambles, wide-eyed into her acceptance speech, only to find a rather inebriated Kanye West, quarter bottle of Hennessy in hand, having apparated before her, snatching up her mic and declaring: “Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”. He shrugs theatrically, arms extended left and right as if to further say “you know I’m right”, before peeling himself offstage. Swift, the little bubblegum embodiment of innocence, stands gaping, her slender frame having suddenly transformed itself into a real life goldfish, the invisible bubbles of shock nevertheless clearly rising above her head.
The responses came, swift and furious the world over. Aside from the leers and jeers directed at West, who was promptly escorted out of the ceremony, social networking sites had a veritable explosion, with Twitter bursting at the seams with the predictable ‘omg wtf is wrong with Kanye’ lines while Facebook status updates flowed like an unstoppable tap. Youtube, that other wonderful source of democratic opinion, was also inundated with videos of tweens, teens and adults, all of whom had something to say, and all of which, from the very serious tone of their messages were clearly of vital importance to the future of the world. Out of the vast blue nowhere of the internet also came a slew of jokes, spliced videos, captioned images and the like, the darkest so far featuring a picture of West and the recently deceased Patrick Swayze, with the attached caption: “Yo Patrick, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Michael Jackson had one of the best deaths of all time”. And it hasn’t even been three days past the event yet. [at the time of this writing].
But what an event it was! – Sure, Antarctica didn’t melt and no new Middle Eastern countries were invaded, but in the world of pop culture, all it took was one outrageous moment in the spotlight to expose exactly what really, really matters. Or, to put it in words of our own Lewis Parry: “I for one am glad to see Kanye still has the power to top himself. It just couldn't be 2009 Year In Pop without Kanye doing something outrageous”. We can breathe a sigh of relief. Everything is in the right place. After all, it’s not like West has a reputation of being calm and composed at awards ceremonies. Take the 2006 MTV Europe Music Video awards, where West went apeshit after his “Touch The Sky” lost out to Justice Vs. Simian’s “We Are Your Friends”, storming the stage and announcing: “Oh hell no, you guys won already. Share the wealth. Fuck this!”. The year after that, Kanye famously flipped out in front of cameras after losing in all five categories he was nominated in, this time screaming “I lost to the fucking Black Eyed Peas last year, man. I’m never fucking coming back to MTV”. This all coming from the man who alluded himself as a presence as big as Jesus and declared after hurricane Katrina that “Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Clearly.
But in spite of all this, despite what some might cite as overwhelming evidence of West’s sheer stupidity (and lets be honest, it is pretty overwhelming), I refuse to believe West is an idiot. One doesn’t get to be any sort of Kanye West without being one of the most ruthlessly intelligent people ever. Of course at this point I’d like to draw attention here to Paris Hilton, who is without a doubt an unparalleled genius of our generation and possibly the most brilliant manipulator of the pop mind to ever grace the earth. (Surpassed only, I suspect, by Marilyn Monroe). But I digress. Take a look at the man’s music for one. For those who remember, 2007 saw another marked moment in pop culture history which saw West and 50 Cent facing off in an epic duel of sales after releasing their respective albums, Graduation and Curtis on the same day. Fiddy promised never to make another album if West ‘won’ while West promised that Graduation would be a milestone in the history of rap, filled as it would be with anthemic, stadium filling tunes. (The inspiration? U2, whom West had toured with the year before. Who’d have guessed).
The ‘battle’ was over before it even begun. See, whereas Fiddy kept within the confines of East-coast gangsta rap, Kanye appealed to a previously untapped demographic that was on the verge of bustling its way onto the mainstream – indie kids. Graduation was laced with pop culture references, exemplified by the lead single “Stronger”, West’s appropriation of the Daft Punk classic “Harder Better Faster Stronger”, released just as the revered House duo themselves embarked on a world tour to reestablish themselves as the coolest thing since sliced bread. Even “Stronger”’s music video took its cue from the Katsuhiro Otomo’s anime classic, Akira, scoring an unparalleled number of hipster points with fringe cuts boys (and they are boys) everywhere. In the end, it didn’t actually matter which album was better, West had it down even before either one even hit the shelves. It was a brilliant move, taken even further with his latest, 808s and Heartbreak, the album which entrenched the now infamous auto-tune in the registry of pop music, now seen everywhere from the booty shakin’ of Shakira to the fuzzy hearts of indie darlings like Bon Iver and Discovery.
To put it shortly, Kanye West is brilliant man. But not at the moment. Oh no, not now that pop morality has declared resolutely that thou shalt despise Kanye West for his bad, bad behavior! And we will listen. Intently, and with utmost attention. Which is to say, for about a month. For as terrible as the suffering of Ms. Swift was, like I said – Antarctica didn’t melt and no new Middle Eastern countries were invaded. No, what happened was far more important. In fact, Katy Perry, for all her carefully cultivated pin-up doll image, captured the moment in far better terms than I possibly could: “It’s like you stepped on a kitten”. In front of millions. And for this, he shall pay.
Post-scr1pt: 50 Cent releases his newest album, Before I Self Destruct on 11/11/2009 (Interscope).
Alex Silveri, 09/15/09
|This dedicated to Kanye West, who is an inspiration.|
(Thank you Lewis)
|Nice article. I still haven't even bothered to watch the videos circulating around about this.|
|Sweet article, Kanye West has always been a pretentious dick|
|Ha ha. That Swayze pic came out of nowhere fast. R.IP Patrick Swayze!|
|Best feature along with Chan's on bro's, well done.|
|i loved the book he released a while back with his easily digested philosophical catchphrases|
|you said upmost instead of utmost somewhere in there|
otherwise, amazing article
|also said mike instead of mic|
|You can say mike instead of mic, it's a consensus.|
|Awesome article Alex. It's a great idea to capitalize on this|
|this is great. really interesting read, commend you dude|
|My problem with calling someone like Kanye a brilliant man is that marketing is just too fucking easy to qualify as brilliance. The only thing that experts need to keep up with is fashion, which punches you in the face whenever you log online or turn on the t.v. or walk outside. It's the ability to relate to something that you are.|
|If its so easy why does it punch you in the face everytime you talk outside? That aside, the point of this isn't to say that Kanye is a brilliant man per se - I'm just trying to poke and prod at the narrative that's established itself so fast after the incident.|
|I know, its a great article in that respect, but everywhere I go people are like "Kanye is a brilliant salesman" and I just think those two words don't belong in the same sentence. |
|you say dual instead of duel but oh my god this article rules sputnik could use more of this|
|Haha great article, entertaining the whole way through.|
Don't really have an opinion of West besides just noticing that he occasionally makes a complete fool of himself. Embarrasses me for him
|Very, very impressive article. My opinion on Kanye is common though. |
|very good read, good work|
|Good article, aside from the whole "brilliant" thing. :D|
|Grade-A work, Alex. This whole business is so ridiculous, glad to see we're riding a horse of another color.|
|Great write-up Alex.|
As they say; any publicity is good publicity.
|he does something every awrds season 2 years ago,,,, he ragEd on about how he should of resived the best male artist award.... One word,,, VEIN!|
|Good article, arrogant cuntbag|
|I find it interesting that they keep inviting Kanye to award shows knowing this is the kind of shit he does.|
Oh, wait, did I say interesting? I meant obvious.
|good article also splat is right|
|i expected this to be someone like chan from the title|
|this one is the best|
|Spat: Oh, Autotune was definitely around far longer than Kanye, my point is that of all the artists to be associated with it, Kanye is the most prolific and the one who most obviously alerted pop to it. T-pain isn't popular enough to count. Hell, one of the first jokes Stephen Colbert pulled after this was to scream Kanye's name into an autotuned mic. |
|Also, I agree about the openness thing. He seemed genuinely cut during his apology on Jay Leno and I've been loving his turn to indie recently, cause it seems like he really means it too. There's a wonderful video floating around of him and Beyonce hanging at a Grizzly Bear concert, it's just really interesting thing to see.|
|haha is that a joke|
jay-z you mean?
|wow that sounded kinda rude |
but i think you meant jay-z
|I love how this guy thinks hes the second coming of Jesus just because his music is popular. What a tool|
|Wait, T-Pain isn't popular enough to count? Maybe not in Australia, but dude, he's huge and has been since Bartender came out two years ago.|
|Yeah but everyone knows Akon is a complete and utter joke. Maybe that's it, I honestly see both Akon and T-pain as tasteless gimmicks who'll die away in pop consciousness long before Kanye ever will. Kanye just seems like the only one who'll be associated with it long term.|
|I forgave you for Spears. This time its war.|
|T-Pain has had songs more popular than anything kanye has put out|
|tpain is not even comparable to kanye.|
aside from that, i still whole heartedly believe ye is a genius and this is all apart of his image, as bad as it's become its still what makes him who he is.
|not about whether they are comparable talent wise|
|if were talking head to head here kanye wins. the singles for him that were big were very, very big.|
collabs i can see how tpain has had the more successful career, but it'd still be debatable. as i remember before wayne and tpain it was kanye whom everyone wanted to work with.
|T-Pain is a party flavor, and people know him by his voice. Kanye is a rapper and people know him by his name.|
|bartender is bigger than anything kanye ever had tbh|
|Yes but Kanye is bigger than anything anywhere so no|
|its hard to imagine how we're evaluating the songs here, especially since buy you a drank was bigger than bartender, and still neither of those were bigger than stronger. those along with stripper were huge yes, but kanye has literally exploded with each album from jesus walks to gold digger to stronger and finally that shittiness from 808.|
|This was a really good read Alex. Kanye is still a retard at heart though. |
|If his mom wasn't rolling in cash, I'm sure she would be very disappointed with him.|
|Taylor Swift's soulless, anodyne music hurts my ears so much. She deserved this|
remind me how he is brilliant?
|still one of my top 5 artists|
|Awesome article right here|
|"One doesn’t get to be any sort of Kanye West without being one of the most ruthlessly intelligent people ever".|
In case you're not aware of how the mainstream music industry works, those artists only exist by the whim of major labels who promote the heck out of their image. It may be some news to you, but a lot of those so-called "artists" don't even write their "songs". Interestingly enough, I once read an interview with one of their PR folks who claimed the rap market would collapse in no time without overexposition. Where's the talent?
Also, if you think that guy is "one of the most ruthlessly intelligent people ever", you might want to turn off your tivo and get yourself a library card, it should help you gain a sense of perspective.
|is that like an itunes music card?|