Kanye West: Back To Reality?

noah | September 14, 2009 3:00 am

Six-ish hours later, and I’m still unsure if the Kanye West/Taylor Swift brouhaha at tonight’s Video Music Awards was a work or a shoot. That is, whether it was the result of a genuine outpouring of emotion on Kanye West’s part, or just a way for the VMAs to sneak up behind the rest of the cable lineup and command the television-watching nation’s attention—no small feat on the night of competing entertainments like regular-season football, the True Blood finale, the US Open women’s final, etc., etc. (Apologies for my continued breaking into wrestling terminology for this, but it really fits: You have one performer who has a history of raising hell and another who has what’s likely the sweetest, most innocent persona in all of Radio City Music Hall; Performer A interrupts a triumphant moment for Performer B, causing strife; audience reactions that inevitably result in “buzz” for your various media properties ensue.) I had similar suspicions after the Britney show-opening disaster in Vegas a couple of years ago, and although they might have been sorta proven wrong then, there’s something weird about West’s outburst and the way it falls in line with his previous ones—particularly his previous ones at MTV-sponsored events. Recall in 2007 that MTV was trying to set up the rematch between West and Justice, which he lost originally, resulting in him freaking out at the network’s European bash. Know that the VMAs pretty much exist to promote MTV’s ever-more-tenuous connection to music, and that this year’s awards were very lacking in buzz because of a just-off-the-mark performer lineup and a competing self-promotional push involving four blokes who first hit it big almost 50 years ago. Not to mention, doesn’t Beyonce come out smelling like a rose after all this, ceding her acceptance speech for the night’s big award to the wronged teenager? It just all feels so… calculated. I’m going to sleep on figuring out just what about this whole thing was “real,” and what became “real” after Kanye’s initial outburst unfurled across the Radio City stage-slash-the Internet, and what was merely a way to distract from a lineup that was lacking many of the biggest pop acts in America right now, dispensing with them in favor of the likes of Adam Brody and That Hills Chick. (Because, you know, who cares about pop music.) But if you haven’t read it, Kelly Clarkson’s open letter to Kanye is pretty amazing, both because she articulates the rage that Kanye’s ego inspires in people—“I like everyone. I even like my asshole ex that cheated on me over you…which is pretty odd since I don’t even personally know you,” she writes—and because I suspect that her irritation with Kanye West is of a piece with so many Internet readers’ willingness/desire to believe that “Kanye Campaigns For Title Of King Of Pop” ridiculousness a few months back. (Which, btw? Is still going strong.) Celebrity! Even celebrities can get into the game. Kanye West [random thoughts by me]