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whatsthatsound On November - 26 - 2010

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Am I the only one that’s not crazy here?

– Kanye West, November 23rd, Bowery Ballroom

In the solipsistic universe that Kanye West inhabits (in which he is Kanye West, and we are not) he has been done an injustice. By Taylor Swift. Yes, the winsome VMA award winner who stood, dumbstruck as Kanye jumped on stage, grabbed her microphone from her as she was giving her acceptance speech, and proceeded to let viewers know that he felt the award was undeserved, and should have gone to Beyonce instead, has not gone to bat for him in the year since. “Taylor never came to my defense”, he lamented, toward the end of a very bizarre soliloquy he ad-libbed at the end of a concert at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC earlier this week. In the nine minute rant, Kanye had plenty of other gems to offer his adoring audience as well. Hastening to assure them that “I never talk about the numbers”, he proceeds to do just that, bragging about the sales of his recent album, (100,000 the first day, digital alone, 650,000 projected in the first week, without a #1 single – just some of the numbers he never talks about); defending former nemesis George W. Bush, portraying him as equally “villainized” as Kanye himself by a rabid media always looking to tear people down, etc. He tops it all off with the humble admission that, “I can’t be your role model. I can’t be your savior. I can’t be your antichrist”. Personally, I was thinking to myself, “well, that’s a relief, because I wasn’t really counting on my savior being a boorish, loutish, self absorbed egomaniac to begin with”.

But that’s just me. For their part, the audience gave him the requisite dose of adulation, even as his rabbit-hole speech took them deeper into his child’s brain mentality about the world. Like the frightened adults in that classic Twilight Zone episode, who heaped only praise upon the terrorizing bully child who otherwise would “send them to the cornfields”, Kanye’s fans shouted out affirmations and gave their applause to his every utterance, no matter how bizarre they increasingly became. And why wouldn’t they? In our celebrity-obsessed culture, why should we use our own minds to decide if what we are hearing is egotistical drivel or words of wisdom, even “salvation”? He’s famous, after all!  If his words seem weird and hard for me to make any sense of, if they seem to go against my own ideas about what is and isn’t proper behavior, the problem is obviously with me. I’m not the one who’s up there on stage. I’m not the one who never “talks about the numbers” of my mega-selling records. In the presence of a genius like Kanye, my own conventional assumptions need to be checked at the ticket gate.

Meanwhile, for self-proclaimed “king”, Lebron James, things are not going according to plan. Ever since his nationally televised (and widely watched ) “Decision” (which I suggest should heretofore be known as “The Derision”) to bolt his home state of Ohio and head for Miami to join fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in pursuit of multiple NBA championships, the wheels of karma seem to be churning as if propelled by a benzedrine popping lab rat to bring “the chosen one” down to earth. A week from now he will be returning to Cleveland, and the team he jilted, for a match-up between his Miami Heat and his former team, the Cavaliers. And the Cleveland fans are going to be rabid! Never has a local hero fallen in stature faster than this “traitor”, and the boos that will fill the stadium from the second he exits the  locker room to the second he heads back in again, surrounded by security, will be deafening, a cathartic primal scream from a fan base that had placed their hopes and dreams and aspirations in him, who had believed him when he proclaimed as an eighteen year old rookie, who had already appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, that he wouldn’t quit until he reached his goal of bringing a championship to the city on Lake Erie that has known nothing but heartbreak and decline for decades.    And the moment will be all that much sweeter for his former fans knowing how disappointing this season has gone thus far for the would-be superteam. Currently standing a mere one game above .500, with a record not all that much better than that of the Lebron-less Cavs, the Heat players are well aware that they may very well lose that night, as derision rains down upon them and unprecedented hatred blasts James at every turn. Cleveland fans would probably prefer that the Cavs lose every other game this season in exchange for handing Lebron a humiliating defeat on his former court. The mayor of the city would be crazy not to declare the next day a city-wide holiday if they win. Adding an almost painful note of irony, a few years ago, when he was Ohio’s favorite son, Lebron built a fifty million dollar home in nearby Akron, and is now probably the least loved person in the entire state. Will he shut himself up there, like Charles Foster Kane did, surrounding himself with phantoms and mirages?

The story of Lebron is similar to that of Kanye, one of unrestrained hubris that tunes out everything that doesn’t speak of ones own personal greatness. At the tender age of eighteen, upon entering the league, Lebron declared as a goal that he become a “global icon”,  as if unaware that no one in history has ever become a global icon by having that as their goal. He could say that with a straight face because his basketball skills had elevated a mere teenager to a stature that could only exist in a society gone screwy. The hatred being shown toward Lebron now is nothing other than the flip-side of the inappropriate and unjustified adulation showered on him by the working stiffs of northern Ohio and elsewhere as they built his ego up to Ozymandias-ian proportions. In short, it says more about his fans, and the American Cult of Celebrity they spring from, than it does about the man-child himself.  What did they want him to be, and why? What part of themselves did they transfer from themselves to him? Like Kanye, Lebron is nobody’s role model, or savior, OR antichrist.  He’s Icarus. And as his former fans watch with glee as he falls like a stone through the sky, one hopes they might remember that they are the ones who gave him the wings.

Written by whatsthatsound

Writer, Illustrator, Curmudgeon. Ferret Owner. Tokyoite, formerly Ohioan. Much nicer in person.

179 Responses so far.

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  1. whatsthatsound says:

    It’s all over but the recap. The Miami Heat beat the crapola out of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Lebron’s return. Nobody on the Cavs team could stop him. He knows the court so well, he just made buckets all over the place, and racked up 38 points in only three quarters. Adding insult to injury, the 24 points he scored in the third quarter alone were the most ever scored in that arena in one quarter. In other words, he achieved something AGAINST the Cavs the first time he played them that he never achieved in seven seasons WITH them. OWCH!

    So he got out of there looking more like a champion than he has all season.

    But give it up for the Cleveland fans too. They made a party out of their hatred, sporting all sorts of clever, and not so clever, anti-Lebron T-shirts, signs, etc. Some of it was in really bad taste, most of it was acceptable. They got to see their former star do what he does best, and used to do for them. Cleveland is a city that identifies with its “cursed” sports history, so people probably headed to the bars in relatively good spirits. They said what the wanted to say. The outcome was far from what they hoped for, but not beyond what they knew could happen.
    Paraphrasing the cop at the end of “Chinatown”:

    Forget it, Jake, it’s Cleveland.

  2. whatsthatsound says:

    “King” James in action. The game against Dallas already lost, the early season in meltdown, here is how the chosen one sends a message to his coach:
    His defenders are calling it an accident. Perhaps. But please keep in mind that this is one of the world’s most talented athletes, and so I think he knows how to move his body so as not to make unwanted contact, at least on the walk back to the bench.

  3. AdLib says:

    Okay, Steve Johnson, receiver for the Buffalo Bills missed a big touchdown pass so of course, when it came to taking responsibility, he blamed God in the following Tweet:


    Kanye is taking notes on this.

    • kesmarn says:

      I especially enjoyed the last two words, after the angry rant.

      The simultaneously humble, yet butt-covering “THX THO…”

      Don’t want to seriously piss off the ultimate Head Coach…


    • choicelady says:

      LOL!!! OK -- several things wrong here. God -- if it exists at all -- owes us nuttin’. Two -- Johnson’s from BUFFALO, fer crying out loud! Does he not remember Buffalo’s Superbowl history? I lived through all five games, and it was utter humiliation each time, all the time, and I’m not even a fan. Just lived there. The sheer arrogance of this rant leaves me (nearly) speechless. It’s what I used to say to speeders -- no matter how fast you go, you’re still in Buffalo. Have some sense of proportion, please! God as the Alpha, Buffalo as the Omega and this dumb shit doesn’t get that he’s at best only somewhere in the middle like the REST OF US??? What a dweeb!

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Well, I for one am glad that somebody finally came out and said what we sports fans have known all along: God cheats!

      Seriously, this can be looked at as either simply a case of an immature person venting, or an instance of just how immature our culture is -- looking to blame someone, putting ourselves in the center of the universe, avoiding personal responsibility, and taking a game FAR too seriously.
      I think it’s both.

      • AdLib says:

        I wouldn’t say God cheats. He simply hates losing when he bets on football. Not only can his wrath be mighty and his vengeance swift, he’s not the best loser.

        • choicelady says:

          Who can blame him? He TOLD you pigs were unclean. But would you listen? Noooooo.

          • AdLib says:

            But bacon completes me!

            • choicelady says:

              Clearly you’re not kosher or halal. I had lunch with a rabbi down there in LA not long ago. He wasn’t feeling well and wanted to know if I thought a Cobb salad with bacon would be OK. I said physiologically probably yes. Spiritually, he was barking up the wrong tree asking a shiksa.

      • bitohistory says:

        Why doesn’t BYU win every game? Hmmm. 😉

        • choicelady says:

          Look -- it’s hard enough believing in a burning bush as the source of the Ten Commandments. Would God REALLY fob off a flaming salamander on us as the real McCoy? While there is a lot that’s “biblical” about Mormons, I think God thinks that’s a bit over the top. He mumbled something also about Glenn Beck, but I couldn’t quite get it…

    • bitohistory says:

      Help wanted: I am in desperate need for someone to blame. All donations accepted. (not-tax deductible)

      • choicelady says:

        You are free to use me. Around Sacramento I’m known as “the Churchlady” and have served as a point of contentiouness for lots of things -- especially when I’m right. So when things do NOT work out well, I get to be the poster adult for what NOT to do, even if it was not my fault. So feel free! Blame away!

        No, no -- no need to thank me. It’s my calling. It’s my job.

        • bitohistory says:

          C’Lady, I’m moving to Sacramento!! 😆

          • choicelady says:

            bito, dear -- you’d be more than welcome! I do have to warn you that our mayor, former NBA self styled superhero Kevin Johnson, takes us full loop to WTS’s observation. Kevin is the past master of solipsism, narcissism, and the blame game. His ideas are the saving of America. No one is more important than he. Nothing is his fault from sexual harassment of teen aged girls to the utter destruction of the charter school he pretended to found. So while looking for someone to blame, you’ll have to duck or become Kevin’s target yourself. Even if he has NO idea who you are.

            I have one and only immutable law (Al Franken excluded): NO MORE CELEBRITIES IN PUBLIC OFFICE. Constant public bloat and its resulting gaseous discharge are simply too much to bear -- Kevin and Arnold in one city. We deserve better.

  4. kesmarn says:

    wts, I hope you will eventually forgive me…! 😉

    But I have to propose a mental exercise.

    What if we take a look at women who have been elevated to celebrity status in America?

    What does that say about us as a country, a culture?

    When we look at, say, Sarah Palin and Beyonce, what does their fame tell us about what we value in women?

    Do we value beauty, youthful appearance, aggressive attitude, sexiness, thinness? If we do, then Murdoch has certainly read the culture correctly and has made a smart move in making sure that people like Megyn Kelly deliver us our daily “opinion bread” to swallow.

    If we look at prominent women’s behavior through the lens of feminist values rather than race, what does it say about the public who adores them?

    Do women need to present as aggressive in the bedroom and in defending “their men,” but in no other circumstance? Do they need to be considerate enough to disappear if/when they age or gain weight? If they opt not to wear make-up or expensive clothing is it “game over”? Does a woman need to be “neutered” to make it in political circles? Are the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders what every little girl should aspire to?

    Why does the American public place tiaras and pageant-winner sashes on the women in the headlines at the moment? Do Beyonce and Sarah Palin need to be given passes for their booty-shaking?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      In 1971, when “Tapestry” became a mega-bestseller, and made Carole King one of her generation’s brighter female stars, did everyone focus on the fact that she wasn’t classically beautiful? How about Janis Joplin? Sexy, certainly, but that was from the aura she projected, not her looks. Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Jonie Mitchell, etc..none of them classically beautiful, and NONE of them shaking it in front of the camera.
      So clearly, we have devolved, a lot, in that department. It must have started with MTV, right? I’m not sure how else to explain it. And then, for television, I guess it would have been “Charlie’s Angels” and “Wonder Woman”. All of a sudden it wasn’t just a plus to be pretty, like Linda Rondstadt and Grace Slick were, it was a NECESSITY to make it in the business for women.
      It’s so extreme now that it defies description. I don’t know what else to say about it. God help this nations’ girls. The messages they are getting are abhorrent.

      • kesmarn says:

        Good points, wts. Could there ever be another Mama Cass Eliot? Probably not at the moment… :-(

      • choicelady says:

        There has been that thread for a long time. Women’s liberation dovetailed with sexual liberation, and… I blame Hugh Hefner in large part, followed by “Laugh In” and its snarky slightly off color jokes, all at women’s expense. Look at 60s movies -- the Bond girls etc. It’s followed us forever since then. Of course there is a much better side, but pop culture has risen to great places -- then crashed and burned. It’s followed far too much of the Bimbo and way too little of the Kind-hearted wise Woman threads of society’s change. Personally, I blame Reagan. But then I blame Reagan for EVERYTHING.

      • bitohistory says:

        WTS, Do you think the character of America has changed tht much? Betty Gable, Rosalind Russel, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable…… Why did Blondie look so appealing and Dagwood look the, well, the Bumstead? Is it much different? Or is it the depth, the obsession of the adulation that has changed?

        • whatsthatsound says:

          I think it has changed just in the sense that it has become a 24/7 obsession now. People idolized movie actors and actresses, but Fame was just a lil’ toddler Frankenstein’s monster at that time. Now Fame is beyond Frankenstein, it’s grown to be a city-wrecking Godzilla. I believe we are not that far away from the time when technology and the Cult of Celebrity will conjoin to the point where people will be able to purchase off-the-shelf versions of their favorite star’s lives, and actually BECOME them. We’re close, with role play games, fantasy football leagues, Guitar Hero arcade games, etc., etc. It’s just a matter of time, I’m guessing.
          (pssst.. I’m picking up a “Robert Plant: The 70s” virtual reality IdentityPack as soon as they hit the shelves!)

        • Questinia says:

          Great point, bito. Even copy-cat suicides have occurred because of over-adulation, even in the 19th C.

          It may not only be the depth but the amount. The media is ubiquitous.

    • Questinia says:

      You describe women in a compelling light re the essay. Men can be fugly and still make it big. A woman practically has to consider going the Heidi Montag route to be even considered.

      I’d add one thing. What if a woman took away the glory from Justin Bieberlicious, and wanted to give the award to another woman? What if she had said a while ago that Bush was sexist because of unequal pay? What if she caught heat for that?

      What if she was hormonal at the Bowery Ballroom?

      • bitohistory says:

        What if KW wasn’t so full of him self? What if Bob Dylan had a good singing voice? What if the wind didn’t exist? What if?

        • Questinia says:

          Bito, none of those represents a group of people who have been historically down-trodden.

          Besides Dylan has one of the greatest voices in rock history. :)

          • bitohistory says:

            That is a prerequisite to be boorish and full of self worth? Down trodden? Buffy St. Marie taking the award away excuses her actions? I do believe that WTS’s post in the first phase was of the vast value that Ramses put on himself. Do we delude ourselves with our alleged importance, do we demand worship? Do we give too much importance and worship to the inconsequential?

            I confess, I am ignorant of multiple popular trends, but I don’t think recognizing a person full of themselves and being able to afford a group of sycophants to surround them has changed. A good PR firm is often more valuable than one’s talent.

            • Questinia says:

              No, it is not, bito. But when one is put down enough there may be a tendency to overreact. Precisely because the self-esteem is so low, because the anger and frustration is so high. It may be seen as a symbolic gesture. One may not agree with the behavior and see it as churlish, but I think in certain instances it would be a good idea to understand the motivation behind it. It may not be about feeling TOO good about oneself, but too badly about oneself. That’s the message in K Dubya’s rap song I presented.

              What if the Native American took some ugly steps to symbolize their resentment? I’ll bet many of us would understand.

              Buffy St. Marie? Did she pull a Kanye? 😆

      • kesmarn says:

        Padded cells for one and all would be the result, Q!

        Dontcha know? Every strong woman is crazy. 😉

        • choicelady says:

          Been there. Labeled that. Not crazy. I do know it’s been many years since some bozo mocked me or any other intelligent woman, but there is another side -- you have to be intelligent the way some guy THINKS you should be to be “included”. So even smart women don’t figure into problem solving since sometimes that means not paying fealty to some man. It’s a damned sight more subtle, but it’s not all gone away. One of the cool things here is the lack of concern about who any of us is -- in some cases (because I’m lazy and don’t look at bios) I’m not sure what gender anyone is much less race, ethnicity, background, etc., etc. The conversation is therefore FASCINATING because it exist without “pre-ordained” limits. Though I bet it was a giveaway that my name included “lady”… I’m honestly not always sure who’s who. Or what. It makes the meeting of minds a true meeting. And it’s VERY cool. I do not advocate a metrosexual or genderless society, but it is wonderful to talk to someone as a true human being, no preconceptions. Wow.

          • kesmarn says:

            c’lady, on HuffyPost, I never did reveal my age, occupation or gender. The hilarious thing was that RWers almost always assumed that I was a young, unemployed male — probably a minority, as well. They said so quite directly.

            I am the total opposite of all of those.

            My theory is that, when they didn’t know, they projected an identity on to me of what it was that they most feared.

            • kesmarn says:

              No, b’ito! I’m young, unemployed, male, angry and Hispanic! AND a union-member who happens to be a big thug with lotsa thuggy friends who know just where all those Huffy RWers live!!

              At least that’s what they read into my meek and humble posts… 😆

            • bitohistory says:

              You mean you aren’t young, male white and unemployed? When will I ever see the clues? No wonder why I never liked Masterpiece Mysteries. I can’t figure them out till the end. Next week, it’s back to “Kitchen Nightmares.” I can figure those suckers out, fer shure!!

        • Kalima says:

          Just up and reading this, I have to wonder why the women you talk about are prepared to put up with any kind of sexists crap, it baffles me.

          When I first came to Japan, wives were still walking at about 6 paces behind their husbands. I remember telling my hubby that if he thought I would do the same, he had a screw loose. I worked hard to gain respect in this country, hubby took me to places men don’t usually take their wives, business meetings and so on, drinking sake in small crowded bars. I could drink every single one of these guys under the table and still walk a straight line. I talked the ears off everyone in situations where Japanese men would usually expect you to keep quiet, and I gave my opinion whether anyone wanted to hear it or not. Eventually they had to listen because I wouldn’t shut up. I think I earned that respect here in the country that would be my home, and now I don’t care which country I’m in, if some guy tries the sexist crap, I fight back, and won’t just accept it becaiuse it might tarnish my image as a women because quite franky dear, I don’t give a damn.

          And just because I may not like frills, bows, ribbons and lace, doesn’t mean I can’t be feminine. I clean up nice. :)

          • kesmarn says:

            Kalima, I think you’ve approached what may be the heart of the issue — which is: how do we define what it means to be a woman (or a man) in America?

            If the ideal is the head cheerleader gazing adoringly into the eyes of the championship quarterback, I think we just may have some growing up to do.

            It takes amazing strength to buck cultural history and/or trends the way you have. Behaving in a way that feels authentic to oneself, but is outside the “norm” (whatever that may be) can be risky business.

            Good for you, for having the courage of your convictions.

            • kesmarn says:

              b’ito, you’re right. It’s not as though males have a bed of roses, either.

              When you mention expectations, I feel you’ve gotten to a kernel of truth. Americans are taught to pursue the flawless prince or princess. Why? Because “what will ‘they’ say if I’m with someone who’s less than perfect?”

              And don’t even get me started on women who are attracted to or return to abusive men, when there are decent, loving guys out there. The appeal of the “bad boy” escapes me.

              I suppose there’s enough folly to go around…no matter the gender. :-(

            • Kalima says:

              I should imagine that it comes from the pressure to be perfect in the eyes of everyone, an impossible task to begin with.

              Children need to learn at home that they are special just the way they are, and that what is inside is far more important than what others see outside. The slew of magazines for young girls hinder much more than they can ever help them, they need to be taught how to achieve confidence, not 100 ways ways to make their arses look smaller or bigger. We live in a shallow world I think kes, and not all of life is about competition and winning.

            • kesmarn says:

              “[P]retending that we are something we are not in order to please others…” as you said, Kalima.

              That’s the pressure that faces so many girls as they enter their teens in America. So much anorexia, so much depression, so much meanness. Does it come at least in part from that pressure?

            • bitohistory says:

              kes, I fully realize that there is more prejudice and demands on the “female race” We cannot forget the prejudices on the males that may not be popular, tall, fat, nerdy or “just don’t fit in.” There have been studies done that show the smarter male loses a job over the taller dumber male. Seems finding fault is more popular than finding quality. Are both male and female expecting to find the prince or princess? What of the girls/women who like the bicker over the bookworm? I have known women who have returned to a batterer, even though the new boyfriend was “better. (ironing and laundry doesn’t score points. 😉 )

            • Kalima says:

              Hi kes, I was on the brink of slinking away.

              I believe we have to learn to respect ourselves more, just because a man can lift heavier things or open stubborn bottle tops easier than we can, doesn’t make them in any way superior to me. I’m glad that I’ve never had to put my boobs or my rear on parade to get anything in my life, anyway, after I was married it was a no no.

              If we learn to stop pretending that we are something that we are not to please others, who are we, how can we ever respect ourselves and expect other to respect us too, or even respect others?

              In my childhood as I’ve written here before, I was subjected to daily bullying. Later I made up my mind that it would never happen to me again, in any shape or form, and especially not from a man. Over the years although it has been tough at times living here, I think that our long life together hinges on mutual respect, and a strong feeling of equality. My hubby is a rare gem in the East, he allowed me to be myself, and stood next to me as he cheered me on. To borrow a phrase from the crazy TP, “Don’t tread on me!”

        • Questinia says:

          We’re obviously speaking FROM EXPERIENCE! When will that change?

          Why does a woman have to look and act like a man in order to be strong?

          • kesmarn says:

            Heh. And the real Catch-22 is that the minute she doesn’t look “femmie,” she loses her alleged credibility.

            “I’d follow her if she weren’t so girly and weak looking.”

            “I’d follow her if she didn’t look so much like a dude, man.”

            “I’d follow her if she didn’t look so…so average for a woman.”

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed Kes, things in our society continue to devolve down to the lowest common denominator.

      Simply put, the richer, younger, prettier, sexier, etc. is what Americans respond to, the simple extremes.

      It could be deemed The Double Down Syndrome. Despite the intellectual understanding that a young, sexy performer probably doesn’t know what’s actually going on in the real world, many men think she is smiling at them in particular and would have sex with them…so they watch and nod back at her.

      Just as we all know how bad large amounts of fat in our food is yet when hearing about a KFC sandwich that is two pieces of fried chicken sandwiching two pieces of bacon and cheese, salivary glands water and health concerns go out the drive through window.

      The public has been given permission by our corporate-driven society that it is being a good American and citizen to put their own gratification above anything else. There is not much counterbalance to this in the MSM surrounding us, in fact, often we see the celebration of excess and those indulging in self-gratification.

      So, getting a serving of sex with your news isn’t hard to fathom. Just wait until Fox wraps their news hookers in bacon! Ratings will go through the roof!

  5. Questinia says:

    All Falls Down

    by Kanye West

    Man I promise, I’m so self conscious
    That’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches
    Rollies and Pasha’s done drove me crazy
    I can’t even pronounce nothing, pass that versace!
    Then I spent 400 bucks on this
    Just to be like nigga you ain’t up on this!
    And I can’t even go to the grocery store
    Without some ones thats clean and a shirt with a team
    It seems we living the american dream
    But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
    The prettiest people do the ugliest things
    For the road to riches and diamond rings
    We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
    We trying to buy back our 40 acres
    And for that paper, look how low we a’stoop
    Even if you in a Benz, you still a nigga in a coop/coupe.

    Q~*Money’s Rap

    When ya mess with Kanyay
    Ya messin wit me
    Ya’ll pay the fee
    When I rob your glee.

    That Taylor chick
    She had it comin’
    stealin’ an award
    From Beyonce’s lovin’
    Name, y’all.

    that’s the way it goes down.
    Gotta shake y’all up wit
    Phenomenonal at-ti-tude
    ya say he want pity
    Say he got no shame
    But this worl’ is shitty
    That’s jus parta fame

  6. Questinia says:

    What’s wrong with being challenged, wts? Re the video, perhaps I should listen to it again, but that was my impression.

    As to the point of “you should write a post about racism”, what can I say? Ever think that the reason they cheer him on and the “part of themselves [they] did transfer from themselves to him” is precisely their skin color?

    How you discuss your essay should have the flexibility to try and understand how another person is having a response to something you write without becoming defensive or formally putting up disclaimers about how you didn’t introduce, in this case, the issue of race. One other member on this thread did engage me and gave me the respect to try and understand where I was coming from. Instead, you picked a proprietorial and defensive posture against a perspective from one of your most ardent fans and supporters. In fact, one of the reasons I DID introduce the meta dimension of rappers, race and the history of this story is not only because it is part of the general discussion elsewhere but also to support your article by generating more areas of discussion. It did. Gee, feeling a little like a Clevelander here. You can choose to address my issue as much or as little as you want. But you did take a very strong position against what I was saying and therefore I have a right to defend mine.

    This is an opinion piece, wts. When you say Lebron and Kanye are nobody’s role models you are speaking for yourself. I would wager members in the audience find Kanye very much a role model and that’s why they “cheered him on” conversely they may have been in conflict and that’s what I was hearing.

    Should I not challenge at least a portion of the essay you write and add what I feel is an important component of Kanye’s story, (especially since it is an opinion piece and I do have my OWN opinions) I would be doing the very thing you criticize Kanye’s audience of doing. I’d be enabling you. I have way too much respect for you to do that.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      The disclaimer you refer to was written because you wrote this:
      “You chose to portray two black men who have all those things you state. Since race HAS been related to both stories in the media, then it must be included in the meat of the discussion. Otherwise it’s just about rich talented men behaving badly. But it’s about rich and powerful BLACK men behaving badly.” I was not being defensive, just pointing out that you called attention to the color of the skin of the celebrities I wrote about. I wrote about them as celebrities, not black men, and had no intention of making race a factor in what I was writing about. I was not opposed to race being interjected, per se, I just didn’t want or intend for it to appear as if I was deliberately calling out two celebrities because of their skin color.

      As for saying he is not a role model, I am using his own words, the part of the monologue where he says, “I can’t be your role model, I can’t be your savior”, etc. It was purely rhetorical (both when he said it and when I used it), not an opinion of my own. I concede that he IS in fact a role model to many.

      As to the audience, as they are not shown, I have no way of knowing the color of their skins. I was assuming there were numerous whites in the audience as well, and wasn’t going to make the assumption that he was only being cheered by black audience members.

      There is nothing whatsoever wrong with being challenged, and I never said or indicated there was. But neither is there anything wrong with explaining and arguing for ones own position when one has been challenged.

      • Questinia says:

        I agree, there is no evidence that you were calling these men out on the basis of skin color. Understood that you were reiterating Kanye’s statement of not being a savior or role model. All your points are very well taken.

        However you did invite an argument when you took a position when discrimination was brought up in an interchange with Kalima:

        “The problem I have with the first part about West is just this. There are many successful black men and women in America and around the world that don’t think of themselves as victims, why should he, he makes enough money from his fans doesn’t he, why bore them to death too?”

        “I’m with you, K!”

        I don’t feel money changes how people are discriminated against. I know you don’t either, wts, but I saw a vital part of the discussion needed to be pursued at that very point and that’s when I wrote what you quoted me as writing.

        BTW, I suspect there were white people at the Bowery Ballroom. Rappers are very popular with suburban white boys.

        • Kalima says:

          In my defense Q, the only reason I brought up the money is because I found the whole 9 something minutes of his rant was all about convincing his audience that what he had done was written about because people were discriminating against him because he was black, and not because he had behaved like a spoiled idiot, a drunken spoiled idiot, he even admitted it, so yes he brought up race, he used the “N” word and wanted sympathy. This brought up my mention of money, his fans who made him rich and did he have to bore them to death with his sympathy trip too. I said nothing about money changing the way people are discriminated against.

          Now I’m going to sleep, have a good day and take care.

          Oyasumi nasai.

          • Questinia says:

            I get that, K. My only point was that I don’t feel it is as simple as that. That he is boring to us, doesn’t mean he is boring to them. If what wts is saying is true, he is really NOT boring.

            It’s not a black and white issue as far as I’m concerned. No pun intended! That’s why I am a bit rabid about this. You know how easy-going I usually am :)

            Ohayo when you arise OG!

            Oh, yes, it’s also cause I’m a rapper myself that I understand Kanye West.

            Fo sho! Aighttt, K-Big?

  7. AdLib says:

    Looking at the big picture, is this not just bread and circuses (“Are you not entertained?!”)?

    Naturally, those superficially and often undeservedly elevated above the masses happily embrace their anointment and in many cases, buy into the BS and see themselves as superior to “the common people”. Many become egocentric and detached from empathizing or even sympathizing with others. They are “special”, what they think and want is just more important and their wealth and celebrity is proof of that.

    Do many of them step back for a moment to ask, “Does it really make sense that I should be elevated above 99% of Americans simply because I sing well? Or play ball well? Aside from entertaining people as their standards of living decline and their lives become more unpleasant, what do I offer to them or our society of such great value that I should be elevated above them?”

    Certainly, I have respect for those who are artistically or athletically talented but aside from those few who share unique insights, address meaningful issues or inspire others in their personal lives, does the chosen profession of “singer” or “ball player” make one superior as a human being above others? Entertainers or athletes are, in the end, created by and fodder for the corporate interests that promote them and profit off of them.

    My feeling is, take away Kanye or Lebron’s value to corporate America, take away their promotion and the money that goes along with their professions and who are they? How are they superior as people to other people?

    Is someone who is egotistical superior as a person to someone who is humble? Is someone who disrespects others superior to those who respect others?

    Specifically, what are the traits that make any individual superior to others as a human being (or worthy of the attention millions of people give them)? If we were to buy into the simplicity of corporate thinking, it would be those who get paid the most money, are the most popular entertainers and sports players, appear the most in the media, etc.

    If someone was to ask you, “Who do you think were the five most remarkable people in all of history?” would you answer Kanye? Or Lebron?

    Maybe you’d include in your answer Jesus or Aristotle or Da Vinci or Jefferson or Einstein or Martin Luther King.

    Personally, I can’t recall Jesus’ hip hop songs, Aristotle’s slam dunks, Da Vinci’s action movie, Jefferson’s home runs, Einstein’s unauthorized sex video or Martin Luther King as a roommate in a reality show.

    Meanwhile, as Americans accept an upper class of wealthy CEOs, actors, singers, politicians and athletes, as they revel in the adventures of these people who are “superior” to them, spend their hard earned money on their jerseys and music and merchandising, invest themselves in the pursuits and soap operas of these “superior” people, they are programmed and program their children to accept that they are part of a class that is lower than others and are successfully distracted from things that really matter and make a difference in their lives.

    A lack of affordable health care, economic inequity, racism, the devouring of our democracy by plutocracy, the decline of education and the increase of its cost, so many critical issues far more needful of attention but those most benefiting from the way things are, the same ones financing all of the “superior” people as distractions and justifications for an upper class, sit back amused at how easily they can distract the public from focusing on what THEY are focused on.

    Does anyone really believe that Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, the CEOs of oil and insurance companies, etc. spend their time caring about Kanye or Lebron or American Idol? What do you think they think deserves their time and attention?

    Who’s in power and, what laws are passed in Congress and policies promoted by the President? How they can pay less in wages and expenses to maximize their wealth? Transferring as much wealth as possible from the income and tax money of Americans to them?

    Maybe before sports take place at stadiums, loafs of bread should be thrown out to the crowds and instead of the national anthem, a chorus of men in gladiator outfits chant in unison, “Are you not entertained?!”

    • Questinia says:

      While Karl Rove et al. are not spending time thinking about celebrities, it is the same time they are not thinking about the people who idolize celebrities. Celebrities may be the only things some people have. There have been arguments made that rock and roll stars started in England and the US because the kids needed parental figures they could relate to and use as role models. I think people NEED individuals like Kanye West to be superior. They need them to have big egos. They need them to be cynosures in their lives. This is a human instinct. It is the basis of tribal chieftains, shamans, and in short as Ernst Becker would put it the “special man”. These celebrities become paragons of what it means to matter in the world, what it means to have weight, and, taken to the extreme, what it might be like to defy mortality.

      What wts’ essay’s POV is illustrating is the second act of what happens when people are elevated. They get torn down. We may focus only upon how celebrities are revered and not how they are constantly maligned as well. He was thrust into this whol thing when Kanye criticized Bush, he meant it. Personally, I think he was spot on. He apologized because he used very strong language to describe him ( I will not say what the word is out of deference to wts and spare him a major eye roll 😉 ) and there was indeed fall-out. I can imagine how this must have affected Kanye after giving an intuitive and honest critique.

      Kanye’s recent behavior sucked and he is an egotist and he is a corporate widget and all of that. But there is a very important other side to it all, and one which most directly addresses wts’ thesis. What does this say about the audience? It says they NEED him. Therefore, there is an argument to be made that they need him to be an egotist in order to offset the invisibility they feel by people like Rove.

      One always needs to consider the audience and their background. Only then can you deduce what it is that keeps them enthralled and attached. This essay cannot be about “generic” celebrity.

      Kanye, do you need a PR person?

      • AdLib says:

        I agree, there does seem to be an unfortunate component in the majority’s psyche that seeks and relies on a superior class (sociological parents). Historically, it has been primarily religious and political leaders.

        But there has been a corruption, the projection of this kind of worship onto celebrities, sports figures, etc., beginning decades ago, has become so exaggerated that in today’s America, people can be lifted up by the public into a superior class for doing nothing more than seeking celebrity or displaying on a reality show the most attention-getting behavior, whether or not reflective of more reprehensible or detestable personality traits.

        This religion of celebrity may have psychologically legitimate roots but it is warped and in this era of corporate domination, this powerful tool now in their hands provides for them to build a facade of “What Matters” in front of what really matters. Undisturbed behind that facade, they are free to grab power and wealth from the people and their democracy.

        It is an unnatural cancer to any society, to become increasingly devoted to the trivial while the critical is neglected.

        I used the bread and circuses comparison which seems apt. The Romans were consumed by the spectacle and drama of the arena while their government was being stolen from them and their standard of living destroyed.

        More people have voted in American Idol contests than in American elections.

        That would seem to be a profound sign that something is severely wrong with the public’s ever-growing infatuation, reverence and focus on celebrities and sports figures for increasingly superficial reasons.

        • Questinia says:

          I agree, Adlib. People SHOULD be spending time looking around them and figuring out that what matters is something they’re neglecting. But are American Idol and “What Matters” mutually exclusive?

          These celebrities are all we got, as sad as that may be. Neither of the men in this essay are examples of comportment and fortunately, at least K Dubya doesn’t subscribe to the sorry state of the status quo in this country.

          K Dubya, Lebron, and American Idol have probably given more people a chance to rise up in the ranks than anything this government and system have given. Pathetic, ain’t it? Hope is alive with them. The government is not a place to invest in dreams. Until the US gets their act together and can show people they can be helped more than celebrities can inspire, then maybe people will be interested in the “What Matters”

          • AdLib says:

            Here, my bacon-wrapped beauty, I must disagree. Celebrity is not all that we have.

            We have genuinely public-minded politicians in our districts and states, we have dedicated teachers in our own communities, we have scientists making valuable discoveries (a stem cell breakthrough was announced today), we have people donating their time and money to help other people in need (including bacon-wrapped beauties), we have journalists who actually do an amazing job, we have a plethora of people locally, nationally and globally who are working hard to be real heroes in the lives of others.

            We don’t need celebrities, we can want them but we don’t need them.

            I’d have to disagree that Lebron and Kanye and American Idol have given more people a chance to rise up than our government.

            There have been just 7 American Idol winners, not all of whom became popular. How many artists has Kanye West mentored? Certainly, less than that. And Lebron isn’t really in a position to raise anyone up to being an NBA player even if he wanted.

            So, maybe a dozen or so people have been brought to the upper class by all the above.

            On the other hand, how many people have risen up thanks to the SBA, targeted tax breaks for small businesses, government safety nets buying time for people to get decent jobs, stimulus spending and tax cuts for green technology, etc.

            Just the government’s intervention in GM alone saved at least 1 million jobs and many businesses and if they continue to thrive, that will allow for more to rise up.

            I am not anti-celebrity, I am looking forward to the day when I will be mobbed by crowds of bacon-wrapped beauties. I just think that caring about celebrities should be an occasional treat that compliments a substantive meal.

            Celebrities should be the bacon on the side of the plate, not bacon as the main course.

            Mmm…crispy celebrities!!!

            • Questinia says:


              my smoky pancetta papa.

              You just said “people can be lifted up by the public into a superior class for doing nothing more than seeking celebrity or displaying on a reality show the most attention-getting behavior”. It’s a crack-cocaine way of getting there but….

              Yes, we have a reservoir of many valuable places for our youth of today. But they are not looking there!

              These celebs may not have mentored directly, but they have inspired kids to get out of the hoods and perhaps even stay away from drugs. That keeps them in the game.

              Personally, I rose out of the horrors of suburbia by wanting to become Mick Jagger. I got my dream when I strutted down the Psych ER hallways singing
              “19th Nervous Breakdown”.

            • kesmarn says:


              I knew you’d get it.

            • AdLib says:

              Kes -- Six Degrees of Hickory Smoked Kevin Bacon!

            • kesmarn says:


    • whatsthatsound says:

      exactly, Adlib. This is how I see it too. As I wrote earlier, this article is somewhat of a follow-up to my earlier piece on the entertainment industry. The two stories, of Kanye and Lebron, illustrate perfectly how entertainment has supplanted reality for tens of millions, created petty tyrants out of the gifted, or not-so-gifted (but willing to bare their bottoms and shake it for the camera), and blinded us with its distractions (hence the blindfolds on everyone in the above drawing).

      Meanwhile, as you point out, the Greed Kings are too busy with their shenanigans to care who wins the VMAs or Emmys or Super Bowls.

      • AdLib says:

        Where are the voices in the MSM criticizing greed and self-indulgence, especially in these times?

        It’s almost as if the corporations that own the MSM don’t want such a perspective discussed. That’s odd…

        • bitohistory says:

          Our economy depends on consumption and planned obsolescence. From big farm supporting and getting subsidies, for unhealthy foods to big Pharma and big coal, reducing consumption is their death knell.
          Subsidies and price supports for dairy, beef and pork out the wazoo, and zero for fresh fruits and veges. If you can’t sell it on a commodity exchange, it’s has no value.

          Maybe what we need are some sexy blonds in a red sports cars to sell broccoli. 😉

          • AdLib says:

            Well…our economy has depended on such things but it need not. Instead of planned obsolescence, which helps needlessly concentrate money in fewer hands by needlessly taking it out of consumers’ hands, planned invention could spread the wealth more and finance a broader economy.

            For example, the success of the iPhone has led to the Droid and other smart phones that offer increasingly more and attractive competition. iPhone then has to keep improving. The beneficiary is the economy, this variety of businesses and consumers. No planned obsolescence here, planned invention instead has proven to be an economic engine.

            Fine with me if gargantuan businesses collapse into many smaller ones. We didn’t lose phone service when AT&T was split up, in fact, we got more options because of that (now it’s grown back together into a behemoth though!).

            I would be pleased to see Big Pharma, Big Agra and Big Oil forced by consumer and subsidy decreases, to break up and find profitability in many smaller entities.

            Now, in the scenario you describe, all demand would have to end…which would mean, all those who consume wouldn’t consume anymore in any way. Hmm…maybe we just hit upon the perfect TP/GOP plan to end the deficit…a bill that requires half of the American population to die, the oldest half that is, (except politicians of course) and we would have a huge SS and Medicare surplus!

            I would propose that just because something is a certain way, it doesn’t mean it can’t also flourish in a different way.

            • bitohistory says:

              I wasn’t making a proposal, AdLib. I was stating the obvious. Cell phones, I-Phones, Droid? Broader economy? Cell phones are treated like celebrity Bic Lighters No more efficient appliances, clean cars, cheaper solar cells and cleaner energy. Broader economy.

          • kesmarn says:


            Meet Paolo…broccoli salesman extraordinaire. 😆

        • kesmarn says:

          I saw a panel discussion recently on the impact of wasting food (mostly in Western nations) on world hunger. I was amazed to learn that 40% of the food purchased by Americans is thrown away. This was noted by a French expert on global poverty.

          He said — in effect — that he didn’t want to be a kill-joy (especially at Thanksgiving), and that he wasn’t implying that westerners should aim for severe austerity. But he wanted to note that even small changes in consumption habits — and aiming for quality over quantity — could make a significant difference to other parts of the world.

          But — main point here — on what cable channel was this discussion aired?


          • AdLib says:

            Two examples that bother me.

            We use tons and tons of food to make a gasoline additive. Corn. Food that could be sold globally at fair prices (thanks to U.S. subsidies) and reduce starvation and the cost of living especially in Third World countries. We use it to pretend we’re helping the environment (the production of ethanol is incredibly wasteful in the amount of polluting energy it consumes to create this “energy saving, non-polluting” additive).

            Not to mention the tons of corn wasted in creating one of the most unhealthy sugars that permeates our food supply (high fructose corn syrup).

            And to add insult to injury, though it probably doesn’t account for a massive amount of corn usage, I see these commercials on MSNBC for a kitty litter that’s so absorbant and odor free because…it’s made from corn!

            That’s right, next time you’re in a third world nation and come upon an impoverished family, please let them know that while they are starving, we have so much food, we even lay it out for our cats to poop on.

            • kesmarn says:

              Erk!…and here I thought I was doing a good thing by putting E-85 gas in the aging Taurus! :-( Thanks for the info, though, AdLib. I didn’t know that!

              High fructose corn syrup does seem to be one of those lose-lose products, however, doesn’t it? We get empty calories while people in Africa starve.

              Wow…if Marie Antoinette were around today, she could revise her famous statement to “let them eat kitty litter.”

    • kesmarn says:

      Wonderful observations, AdLib.

      I wish I could remember the name of the British commentator who said something along these lines about 20 years ago:

      America has always prided itself on its egalitarian rejection of the idea of a monarchy. But America is ruled by a royal monarchy. It has a king and a queen. Its king is called Sport. Its queen is called Entertainment.

      • AdLib says:

        Thanks Kes! And what a great quote, how embarrassingly true! When I was reading through de Tocqueville’s quotes for the article I wrote, I was struck by how so much of what we see today in Americans is not new.

        We certainly didn’t get off on the right foot starting with Puritans. The pendulum sure does swing!

        • choicelady says:

          Aha -- never losing a moment to tuck in something from the unwritten dissertation -- all of this has nothing to do with the Puritans and EVERYTHING to do with the Victorians. Pruitans respected communal as well as individual rights, but the Victorians raised raping and pillaging to high levels. You’d never find a Puritan killing animals for sport and leaving their carcasses to rot. They had laws against excess and waste. They also had basic environmemtal protections to assure water and land served everyone’s needs. But take the lid off in the early federal period and follow it with wanton Victorian excess, and we’ve been paying the price ever since. Self interest now is the highest level of development. If I can take away all your self sufficiency and make you dependent on me, then I win, you lose, and who cares. Not me. And you don’t matter anymore. It pretty much sucks when Robber Barons are our heroes and role models.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        That’s a GREAT line! That’s an illustration idea right there….hmm….

  8. Questinia says:

    I apologize to wts if it seems I commandeered his post by introducing the issue of race. In particular, the idea of giving Kanye West a “pass” which appears to confound the topic more. The reason I bring up race is because it is an ever-present tag-along issue in KW’s saga. I researched this story elsewhere and saw it was rife with race. Some of the blogs had incredibly heated threads and prejudicial epithets were being flung about uncensored. I saw the word “nigger” being used with regards to Kanye West and toward those who defended him. Most of the time, his behavior was condemned as it is universally here. Yet, just the fact that a black man’s poor behavior has the potential to elicit such harshness in the population is noteworthy. Can any of us imagine that having a misstep, acting badly, saying the wrong thing, that such harshness could be levied so liberally against us? That, indeed, we might expect that sort of response? What would that do to our sense of feeling we could express ourselves and our sense of being in the world? Would that experience in some way not potentially prompt us, either consciously or subconsciously, to act out?

    This hatefulness goes way beyond KW’s idiosyncratic douchbaggery. It is genetically encoded in our culture and has not been bred out of our system. Both sides of the race issue are to blame. Jesse Jackson is as guilty of ripping off the scab as any callous white bigot. What we are being shown currently in the US is that every black person in the public eye is subjected to intense scrutiny and each extreme is ready to be offensive or defensive at a hair trigger. We have only to look at what Obama has engendered. His color seems to have further accentuated the stage upon which people of color are judged. So, when you hate the behavior of a black person in this country, it sadly appears one cannot just hate the behavior.

    KW’s rant is a rant of one. He is not like Palin, Beck, or Rush who have actually fanned the flames of hatred, conscripting and mobilizing white haters who have long enjoyed their prestigious status. I listened to the video and did not hear cheering throngs. In fact, when he brought up Bush, I heard some groans. He was, as wts states a “terrorizing bully child” engaging in an embarrassing tantrum. Kanye’s bad behavior says more about Kanye than it says about anyone else. Wherever it comes from. Giving some people all the attention, power, money, etc… allows them to be like spoiled children. Kanye is like a spoiled child. I don’t give him a “pass” for being spoiled but I do give him a pass for what being a spoiled black man can elicit in this nation. So many people out there are willing to expand his personal wretchedness to symbolize something larger, not just what money, fame, and celebrity does to a person. I’m certainly guilty of doing it here! But therein lies the dilemma. How does one discuss the issue of Kanye West and his behavior without bringing up what the rest of the blogosphere is talking about? When does bringing up an unfortunate reality stop reinforcing the continuation of that reality?

    • choicelady says:

      Q -- since the first I’ve known of this story is this blog, I had NO idea that the incident was grounded in race. That is disgusting both for its perpetuation of racism and ALSO for its refusal to place Kanye within the context from which he comes as a celebrity. I’m honestly NOT being flip with I say that it seems to me Kanye’s actions are utterly without ANY reference to race -- that he has achieved true equality in being a narcissistic pinhead. It’s the entire CULTURE, not this one man, and certainly not this one Black man because he is Black. White people’s refusal to look to their own who act precisely the same is loathesome. To condemn in Kanye what we white people would tolerate in almost ANYONE who is also white proves your point -- while the commentators miss the point entirely.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      You may commandeer, as discussions have a tendency to go in the directions of those who are most passionately engaged in them, although I confess to feeling a bit myself like Taylor Swift as a result.
      Nevertheless, as I do feel somewhat proprietary about my OWN ideas for writing this essay, I disagree with you when you write that you didn’t hear “cheering throngs”. Again, returning to Taylor, it was at that point when I thought Kanye was at his most pathetic, and his audience DID cheer him on. When he said “If I hadn’t been drunk, I would have stayed on stage longer!”, they laugh and cheer. He is saying that he would have gone even further in humiliating a fellow performer, and his audience amens that. He shouts out, “It’s disrespectful!” and no one in the audience reality checks him by saying, “No, YOU were disrespectful!”
      And not because the audience is made up of people just as self centered as Kanye is. No. Rather, because in the Cult of Celebrity, his fame trumps their sense of right and wrong. THAT is the point I am making.

      • Questinia says:

        You invited commentary. Taylor didn’t. Swift-boated, eh? 😉

        You can feel proprietary about your “OWN” ideas about the essay, wts, but you can’t become proprietary over what your essay elicits in others. Otherwise it comes across as controlling.

        I’m confused as to how you can disagree with what I hear or don’t hear. Maybe I was listening to something else…?

        • whatsthatsound says:

          When I wrote that a discussion will go where the most passionate person wants to take it, I MEANT that. This site, and this post, most definitely invites commentary, and all are welcome to do so. I have written that several times on this very post. There is nothing controlling about that, but I reserve the right to share my own ideas, and respond to the comments that interest me, personally, the most. If you wish to write an article about racism, please do, and I will comment there about that.
          But when you say you heard no cheering throngs, you are directly challenging not only something that I wrote, but what is in a way central to my point. So believe me, yes I do disagree with your interpretation of the crowd’s reaction. People can tune into things in different ways. I heard the groans about Bush, but I also interpreted a good ninety percent of the crowd response to be affirmative and enabling.

  9. kesmarn says:

    Q, you know I love ya!

    But I have to say — one of the things I fear most in life is being given a “free pass” when I behave badly.

    I know it’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure it already has. But nothing says “you’ve slid into irrelevance” quite like sensing (or even being told) that the rude thing you’ve just done is “understandable” because you’re (possible options in my case):

    a. female
    b. hormonal
    c. raised by people who didn’t know better
    d. of a given ethnic background
    e. in the early stages of losing it
    f. any or all of the above, or “other”

    Please — call me an asshole. Argue me down. Get mad. But don’t give me a pass. Maybe it’s just me, but that pass seems to end up being spelled p-i-t-y.

    Your anger is much more respectful.

    It says I’m still in the game.

    It says I’m still expected to act like a decent, reasonable person.

    It’s a compliment. Honest!

    • Moist Robot says:

      When a woman is hormonal it is understandable. Reason sometimes goes out the window. Hormones alter the reality by chemically changing the brain. It is not giving pity, it is having understanding and compassion.

      All things taken equally, I would get angry at you and my anger would demonstrate that I respected that you were strong enough to handle it. However, if you were hormonal at the time, you would get a pass. I would have compassion. I would understand the effects of hormones. They can make one temporarily insane.

      Of course there would be no compassion if by hormonal, it became murderous :)

      I think my introduction of race has been somewhat misunderstood. I understand how KW could get carried away with whatever is going on in his head and his response to whatever society is projecting upon him. I repeat, I think KW’s behavior was immature and abysmal. I would want him to change and become more “mature” and reasonable. Perhaps it’s the doctor in me to look at people with compassion as a default, yet I feel I can still get angry at them. I have! Anger and compassion are not mutually exclusive. They can coexist.

      That goes for anyone who is different in society. Gays, transgendered, handicapped, minorities, etc… If they act out, it may be in an unappealing way, but it could still be, on a larger scale, understandable. Who knows what sorts of trauma people have endured because of their differences? I’d give them all a pass too. If the behavior was consistently bad, or manipulative then the compassion may wane. Kanye hasn’t reached that point with me quite yet.

      Anger is the cornerstone of division, compassion is the cornerstone of forgiveness and healing.

      But if it came to Palin or Bush or their ilk. No pass.

      • kesmarn says:

        I love your observation that compassion and anger can coexist, Q.

        Maybe I’m a bit more of a binary thinker than I’d like to admit, though, because my impulse is to say that Palin and Bush also deserve passes then, as long as we’re handing them out. On the basis of being members of the human race. With all its frailties.

        I suppose that somewhere in the back of my little black/white brain, there’s the Department of People Entitled to Passes. It includes: young children, cognitively developmentally delayed folk, the clearly psychotic, and older people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s/dementia. In short — citizens that would probably be ruled incompetent by a court.

        Everyone else has to behave. 😉 I understand all the mitigating factors involved in situations like the Kanye rant. However. After the period that involves one’s late teens to early twenties, I think, like it or not, we bear quite a lot of responsibility for what we are/become. (A simultaneously scary and hopeful idea.)

        Most of us are able to read, observe and even indulge in a bit of introspection by that time. We can — if we really want to — figure out what it means to be a responsible adult. Of course, a certain percentage of people, for various reasons, opt not to do that.

        Or, they figure it out, but decide that being a responsible adult is for other people.

        For this — they are not likely to get a pass from judgmental me. This includes the Wests, the Cheneys, the Palins, and the John Edwardses.

        Because once we start handing out passes to apparently rational adults, I’m afraid we have to keep it up — even when it comes to Mama Grisly and her brood…and all the rest of them.

        • Questinia says:

          I agree with what you say, kes. Like I’ve said, KW’s behavior was abhorrent. But it is more understandable to me given all the things I’ve said. He does need to grow up.

          What could one point to in either Bush or Palin that would merit understanding?

          • kesmarn says:

            Maybe inner demons that we know little about, Q.

            Maybe having been raised by a bully mommy. Having a distant/perfectionist daddy. Some unspoken childhood trauma.
            Somehow having been given the idea that they were both unloved and unlovable.

            It’s hard to say.

            But I think it’s still a good thing to hold them to standards of behavior. “Them” being Palin, Bush, West and kes, along with the rest of the species. 😉

            • Questinia says:

              kes, back at you!

            • kesmarn says:

              I love discussions like this, Q!

              And I send a sincere thank you back. You’re one of the people who keep the Planet spinning and sparkling merrily with your wonderful mind.

            • Questinia says:

              kes, precisely. Obama’s natural temperament notwithstanding, I wonder if he really did get indignant (and I think Obama should show some healthy anger) how this country would respond. He gets no pass.

              Thanks for engaging me here, kes. I realize it’s a hot button topic. I really appreciate your sticking it out!

            • kesmarn says:

              I think I get what you’re saying, Q.

              For example, if a black guy were to weep profusely and spew drivel the way Beck and Boehner have, it would probably get a somewhat different reception from the American public than the stuff that those two have already disgorged has…? It is, unfortunately, still built into the culture to react like that. And — as you say — noticing this almost tends to compound the issue.

            • Questinia says:

              kes, I agree. But even those are on the micro-level occurring in people who have been long privileged. I am looking at Kanye more on a macro one. Please see above. Since wts is using KW as an example of what celebrity can do to a person and how that may affect the entire atmosphere of a culture, I am continuing on that tack.

  10. whatsthatsound says:

    I chose to write about two powerful men, who happened to be black, behaving badly because I like to juxtapose things. And Kanye’s tirade coming a week before Lebron’s game in Cleveland made it a perfect opportunity, in my mind, to use them. I never mentioned, nor “superimposed” race in my article, and would hope that my readers would see that I was writing just as much about the fans and audiences than about the two men themselves. Race has appeared in this discussion, because Questinia/Moist Robot placed it there.
    That is fine, I welcome the discussion, but I do not agree with any assertion or implication that I, as the writer, made it about race. For me, as a writer, I generally prefer to write about a subject when I have a couple different things to compare. If you recall, in an earlier article, I wrote about the Chilean miners and the Emmys because they happened at the same time. The same m.o. is at work in this essay.

    • Moist Robot says:

      You nowhere mentioned race in you post and I am not implying or asserting that you made it about race at all. I added that dimension. Maggie just cheered me on :)

      A better, perhaps more neutral, question would be: Why do you suppose the media and much of the general public have added the issue of race?

      • whatsthatsound says:

        It’s for a different reason in both cases. In the VMA fiasco, it was about race because Kanye had already made statements to the effect that black artists were discriminated against at awards (I am not in a position to judge this, but it seems to me that black performers are hardly being overlooked. In fact, Beyonce came away with a handful of awards that very night, as I recall). For his own part, which he reiterates in his lament of a few days ago, it was about “disrespect” being shown to a fellow artist (Beyonce) and he was standing up for artistic integrity.
        (As an aside, I am mystified as to why he believes “Single Ladies” by Beyonce is one of “the greatest videos of all time”. It’s three women gyrating in costumes that look like rejects from Barbarella’s wardrobe, in black and white. And that’s all it is. As for Taylor’s, I haven’t even seen it. Life’s too short.)
        Lebron had the race issue come up courtesy of Jesse Jackson. When Lebron decided to create a superteam with his friends, it was considered an affront to the old boys/back office NBA system where owners and commissioners, etc, get to make the rules. So JJ suggested that it was like a “slave taking over the plantation”, and THAT, not Lebron’s blatant arrogance and mistreatment of his Cleveland fans, was the cause of peoples’ upset. Lebron, being young and a professional athlete, not a spokesperson of any kind, simply agreed, reluctantly, with JJ, when the question was put to him in an interview, that race may have SOMETHING to do with the backlash.
        Many people dispute that. I dispute it. But I don’t see anything wrong with Lebron seeing it that way. As for JJ, well, perhaps I should just keep my mouth shut.

        • Moist Robot says:

          It is awful that race still enters the picture at all! One has to wonder if JJ is really speaking from a generation where things were quite different. I would have never independently associated Lebron’s move with anything JJ concocted. In fact, it degrades Lebron! JJ needs to get off the stage…
          That Lebron agreed with it. Well, what can one say? Is he just young? Is he using it opportunistically to help justify his “arrogance”? Who knows?



          Kanye was right!

          What if Beyonce dressed in Barbarella worthy gear? 😉

          • whatsthatsound says:

            agreed. No pass. But he’s a 25 year old basketball player, and he wasn’t seeking the question, merely responding to it.

            Jackson is an elder statesman whose stature diminishes every time he fails to distinguish between real and imagined (by him) examples of racial injustice.

          • whatsthatsound says:

            He (Jackson) reduced to insignificance the amount of hurt the people of Cleveland felt, despite the fact that -- Hello! -- Cleveland, like Detroit, has one of the higher proportions of African Americans in the nation. The anger was grassroots, not orchestrated. Jackson was simply being opportunistic (what a surprise, not).

  11. Moist Robot says:

    I thoroughly agree with the gist of your post, wts. Money, power, iconic status have changed people into demi-gods and legends in their own minds. People no longer have etiquette and think they can express anything, behave in anyway, and justify it.

    We have gone from the neurosis of repression to the neurosis of expression.

    It is about ego. Ego is the jail everyone is in. We all pay attention to defending it to the death in many cases. It is really a construct that clouds a truer relationship to the world and one’s fellow humankind.

    What do you think feeds Kanye’s ego? What do you think he needs to be so defensive about?

    • whatsthatsound says:

      What feeds Kanye’s ego? Why, the Cult of Celebrity, of course. That’s my whole point. American society “gives passes” to people all the time, because Americans worship fame and “success”.
      Arrogance is more accepted in America than perhaps any other major country.
      Japan, at the other end of the spectrum, has the saying, “the nail that stands up will be hammered down”, and believe me, I’m not arguing for that position either.

      Plus, recently, American culture is overly focused on showcasing irreverence as a “good”. We are encouraged to smirk, by movies like “Shrek” (the first movie took every opportunity to poke fun at its animated fairy tale conventions), “South Park”, etc.

      Everything can be made fun of, all is fair game; no problem with that here. But when it becomes automatic and ubiquitous it creates acceptance for rude, loutish behavior from people like Kanye.
      In America today, one person can spend twenty years of his life working on a novel, and another person can then put it down with some facile and clever remark, and both will be equally famous. And equal fame accords them equal stature.

      • Questinia says:

        This comment brings up several interesting points for me. I admit that I’ve been playing devil’s advocate a little but only to put some things in relief.

        America gives passes as second chances too. Nowhere but in America does one have the opportunity to reinvent oneself. America is also based on free speech, something more responsible people should avail themselves of with regard to objecting to what’s happening here. America is also going through an adolescence, I feel. The combination can lead to what we are talking about here and irreverence can be a by-product. Some amount of irreverence may be needed if the culture is to breath and remain vital. But, I agree Kanye West is just engaging in irreverence for himself and no one else.

        On a much larger scale, I wonder whether, because we are living in an a system that is more oligarchic than republic, more fascistic than democratic, more people are reflecting that in how they behave somehow.

        Is Kanye part of an oligarchy? Are celebrities part of an oligarchy? The media sure is. The media creates more the monster than anything. Fame is nothing unless it has a microphone.

        • whatsthatsound says:

          I don’t know if celebrities comprise an oligarchy or not, but I am most definitely convinced that the entertainment industry is way, way bigger than what would be proper in a well functioning society (I made this argument in my earlier article, “Selling Gingerbread”, and I think these two pieces should probably be considered as a whole).

          People are not ruled over by celebrities. But they DO allow their emotions, and far too much of their time, to be influenced (perhaps ruled) by the creative output, love lives, train wreck moments, wardrobe malfunctions, etc. etc. of stars.

  12. Moist Robot says:

    Hey natto-lips! I still would ask for a buss!

    Imagine if a white performer took the award away from a black performer. Would racist comments not be flying back and forth?

    It is the same with Kanye. Therefore, we need to examine his behavior in the light of race. Given the tenor of this country, given what the media has said, given the history of blacks in this country, a crucial element of the argument would be missing if race was not discussed.

    As I stated below, part of a rapper’s persona is to be somewhat antisocial. I personally abhor his behavior. That’s me personally. But on the larger social stage, it’s not as simple as my personal standards of polite behavior.

    • Kalima says:

      He can be as rude as he wants to in front of his fans if they accept it. HE made it about race, so he owns it. I can’t remember when anyone has complained when most of the awards have gone to black artists because they excelled in their field, can you?

      If everyone did this, why bother with judges or awards in the first place?

      The history behind it I understand and have strong feelings about, but you just can’t go through life blaming every single thing that happens to you as having to do with your race.


      It’s getting hard to see my computer screen because of the position of the bright sun right now, so I will take my leave until it moves a little to the left of my screen.

      • Moist Robot says:

        If Kanye made it about race, then that is something that I missed. In that case he would be using race as a carte blanche for bad behavior. That would be wrong, imo.

        I don’t feel Kanye is blaming “every single thing” on race, though. Race is a backdrop. It just is. Especially now. America is working out some very old and painful issues, unfortunately.

  13. Moist Robot says:

    Kanye West on Charlie Rose:


    Both parents are professors.

  14. Kalima says:

    Being as I have intruded on your post wts, I must just quickly give my opinion of West. I can’t say I’ve ever listened to much of his work, there are far too many better artists and singers around, he’s just not that special. The thing that really put me off permanently was when he appeared on the cover of a magazine (forget which one now) wearing a crown of thorns, it told me all about who he was right then and was in bad taste.

    I watched the link you left and cringed throughout to watch a grown man babbling like a small child to the cheers of his adoring fans. It was embarrassing to say the least, and I’m grateful that although I love many singers, musicians, artists, writers and actors, I’ve never gone overboard to “worship” them at any point, but have just appreciated their work and their talent from a distance. It has always been enough for me, maybe I’m odd.

    • Moist Robot says:

      Crown of thorns? Oh, that’s rich. Kanye is primarily a businessman. He’s going for the PR.

      • Kalima says:

        PR or not MR, it was in bad taste and extremely tacky. As I said below, he thinks of himself as a “victim” there are “victims” in every walk of life, from different backgrounds, different races all over the world. It’s just who they are, not very happy, and everything that goes against what they want or think, is against them personally. This is how I see his “outburst” on stage.

        • Moist Robot says:

          Agreed. But with the Jesus shtick, he’s obviously trying to encompass or mirror something larger than himself, don’t you think? Either consciously or unconsciously.

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