Before I get into my dissatisfaction, I feel inclined to issue a statement of disclosure. I acknowledge that celebrities, be it actors, singers, athletes adopt a persona created to target a specific demographic for profit.
With that said, I have officially lost respect for rapper Kanye West. While my criticism comes from a personal standpoint, my feelings are also a reflection of the young, educated black female that suddenly feels alienated by someone formally considered to be an advocate of a race and a generation.
I initially took a liking to Mr. West because I perceived his lyrics to be a source of enlightenment. In a culture shielded from controversy with the fallacious promise of a “colorblind” world, Mr. West proved courageous and confrontational. West’s “All Falls Down” was the song that caught my initial interest, as his lyrics encompassed many of my struggles as a young black woman. I recall being shocked that a song so truthful and daring would receive such popularity. With the lyric “ Cuz’ they made us hate ourself and love their wealth” Kanye presented himself as a racial revolutionary in a “post racial” America. His assertions were both bold, and revealing, controversial enough to open the eyes of minority and majority people to reveal that both sides perform problematically in a racist society. West not only seemed to just get the racial issues of America, but possessed the courage to render such knowledge in a way powerful enough to raise an eyebrow, but approachable enough to be integrated into popular culture.
After the success of the first album, West continued to drop a number of hits that were as catchy as they were controversial. West’s rhymes were seasoned wit the authorial intention of the cilvil right’s movement, redefining the influence of the black male voice in popular culture.
Fast forward to present day and the Mr. West that captured our minds a decade before, now seems to be drowning in the perspiration of his ego. While Mr. West has always been confined, his focus was formerly on addressing the plagues of his people. Ten years later, the priorities and intentions of Mr. West had vastly changed.
The shift in priority is evident in Mr. west’s most recent comparison between the civil right’s movement and the rights of celebrities. Mr West references celebrities as a minority engagement in the civil rights movement.
While celebrities do make up a minority faction, they are granted great privelage, in terms of acquired wealth and influence. The act of celebrity in the cases of musicians, entertainers and athletes are of intent. Celebrities willingly assume a minority status, unlike the blacks of the civil rights movement. Thus, the parallel between celebrities and the civil rights movement is not only inappropriate but incorrect. The civil rights of blacks were denied on the basis of skin color. Color is issued at birth, making blackness an unavoidable predisposition to those possessing African ancestry. Blacks of the civil rights movement simply demanded to be treated like human beings, whereas West’s demands are to have a cake, eat it and be handed a fork.
A certain degree of privacy is sacrificed in exchange for the fame needed to attain wealth in the entertainment industry. This bargain is not a secret and appears to be a small price to pay for the life celebrites of great fame and fortune are allowed to live. To compare this to the civil rights movement is to suggest that blackness is compromised for basic human rights.
Celebrity comprise their privacy in exchange for the fame needed to acquire their fortune. Thus implemented civil rights would bridge this separation of privacy and celebrity. While I acknowledge that celebrities face extreme situations, to undo this level of attention would revolutionize the roles in which celebrities play in society, undoubtedly reducing both their compensation and relevance. I would certainly say that the level of influence that celebrities hold is often undeserving, but to negate their appeal is to make the entertainment industry obsolete. The request appears to be simple but sacrifices must be made to be
The tireless endeavor of blacks laboring for what is rightfully theirs is an over aching theme of the race that should not be diluted with comparisons such as this one. This comparison depicts West as a black man who has compromised his culture for celebrity. A choice cannot be compared to that which is decided for you. Kanye now epitomizes one who has lost himself in the distorted reality that is Hollywood. He is inebriated from narcissism and epitomizes the key problem of the black diaspora, the separation of the individual from the whole. In his narcissism West sees himself as Kanye West, an individual detached from his troubled past and a figure of complicated contemporary celebrity. Perhaps Mr. West has forgotten that celebrity is temperate, whereas race is withstanding.
The once culturally conscious Mr. west has dissolved into thin air in exchange for more zeroes at the end of his check. Ironically, that same number represents Kanye’s current cultural value. I suppose it has finally “all fallen down” for America’s most infamous College dropout.
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