Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maybe Kanye Should Try to Control Himself Instead of Other People

Despite all his flaws (or maybe because of them), I will always have love for Kanye. What I'm not loving at the moment is the newly released full length version of his "Monster" video, specifically the disclaimer at the beginning of the video.

The unfinished version of this video was leaked months ago, and Kanye caught a lot of media attention for his obviously disturbing video, which combines sexuality with violence in the form of disembodied and women and dead bodies in bed with him. In his attempt to quell the criticism, Kanye tacked this message onto his video: "The following content is no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any group of people. It is an art piece and shall be treated as such."

His statement raises a number of red flags. First, if I learned anything in college, it is that intentions and interpretation do not, and in most cases, will not always agree. You might have the best intentions in the world, but that does not matter to the individuals who will interpret your work as they see fit. For instance, think about the fact that different religious groups (even within the same faith) differ on their interpretations of holy texts.

Kanye's sad attempt to control people's perceptions is futile anyway. You can't control interpretations just by telling someone not to interpret something a certain way. If anything, he is further drawing attention to the blatant misogyny in his video. One quality that has always distinguished Kanye West is his disregard for people's perceptions of him. In the past, he has had no qualms speaking his mind, or being over-dramatic for the sake of drama, and has never shown any real remorse for his actions. Apologies for Kanye are virtually nonexistent and for him to issue this disclaimer essentially implicates his understanding of how inappropriate his video is. Think about it: During the Katrina fundraiser, Kanye never said, "Excuse me while I turn this charitable occasion into a selfish demonstration of arrogance" nor did he say before stealing the mic from Taylor Swift at the VMAs, "Let me apologize for being a douche."

As for artistry, I'm not sure I understand how Kanye's rape/murder fantasies serve an artistic purpose. The combination of his lyrics and images lead me to this interpretation: Kanye's sexual appetite is so insatiable that he has become a monster, with a power so great he kills women. Well, either that, or he just gets off on sexual violence. WHICH IS NOT OK, because yes, Kanye, your message is degrading to women.

And P.S. Slapping the word "art" on your work doesn't automatically absolve your sexism. There is plenty of creepy, disturbing and offensive artwork in the world. Besides, the best part of your song is Nicki Minaj's verse, which has nothing to do with your artistry.

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