Over the weekend Kanye West released two songs – each seemingly more terrible than the last. The first, “Lift Yourself” was a so-called response to the flak West has received for his twitter flurry of conservative word-salad last week, including an endorsement of President Trump. He claimed – among other things - that both of them were constituted of “dragon energy,” which though utterly meaningless does have a certain ring to it. Kanye kept the nonsense train rolling in one verse which – you know what never mind just take a look:
Woopty scoopty poop
Woopty scoop, woop poop
Woopty scoop, woop poop
Poopdity woop scoop
Woopty scoop, poop (via Esquire)
The song was followed by another track called “Ye vs. The People” which features a more cogent rebuttal, “Yo Tip, I hear your side and everybody talk, though / But ain’t going against the grain everything I fought for?” It’s hard to argue that the guy hasn’t made a name for himself by being a contrarian attention hog.
Kanye has since been lauded as a performance artist and provocateur and criticized for putting out bad music to justify an adolescent rant on Twitter. I err towards the latter, but that’s my own suspicion about Kanye’s stability. Reasonable folks may differ, and that’s fine.
The reason any and all of this is worth mentioning is the insane amount of media attention that Kanye received for tweeting a picture of himself in a MAGA hat and calling Donald Trump his brother. Not only did every major network cover it, but the president himself tweeted Kanye, thanking him for his support and complimenting him on his good taste. The coverage was so complete, the permeation so total, that Kanye was able to foist these two singles on a fan base and internet ready to click and purchase.
Whether you agree with him or not, he understands how to play the game.
Of particular annoyance for me in the whole debacle - and I hope the president trading compliments with a pop star in a public forum can be viewed as a debacle – is the praise Kanye has received from the conservative punditry and the innate hypocrisy in it.
Ben Shapiro saw fit to publish this little tongue-bath, praising Kanye’s dragon energy. He did so after publishing a piece cautioning conservatives not to read in too deeply to Kanye’s “bumper sticker conservatism” and after the publication of a book which documents Hollywood’s “leftist” bent and urges reasonable folks to ignore famous people when they say political things.
You can hear sentiments like this echoed all around the Breitbartosphere – even in pieces published right here at TrigTent. The rhetoric is pretty much always the same; celebrities make too much money to live lives that are reflective of the average American, ergo they should keep their big left-leaning gobs shut when it comes to weighing in on political issues, as they have no real idea what is going on.
Never mind the mythology of wealth creating left-leaning ideas (ask the Koch brothers how liberal they feel), this criticism may well be valid. Regardless of bias, perhaps it would be best if celebrities stayed out of the political sphere and focused on the things that made them famous.
Which is why the blushing at Kanye’s praise is so infuriating. Either celebrities should be out of politics, or we must acknowledge that everyone in a democracy gets a voice. Ben Shapiro and his ilk already have their cake, and whenever James Woods or Gary Sinise or Clint Eastwood make a conservative statement in public, they take big, shameless bites of it.
When a celebrity says something conservative, all of a sudden we don’t care about their out of touch eliteness.
I happen to disagree with the thesis that celebrities shouldn’t be able to play at politics. If someone has an audience and wants to communicate with that audience politically, they have the right, if not the responsibility, to do so. Which is why I can support Ben Shapiro’s criticisms of Mark Ruffalo, while simultaneously agreeing with John Legend’s assessment of Kanye. It’s opinion. Who cares?
It’s the moralizing, the high, high horse that conservatives trot out against the supposed elite that really gets my goat. If Mark Ruffalo has to shut up, then so does Kanye.
Of course, all of this is the worst kind of moot because there is a 0% chance that Kanye is going to shut up in the foreseeable future. Along with his liberal elite counterparts, he’s going to be shouting what he believes into the void so long as people keep clicking and downloading.
Which is the real lesson of last week’s Kanye West Odyssey – he and Trump are playing the same game and winning. They are building brands on the back of sensationalism and bad ideas which do not hold up to rhetorical scrutiny.
When they stand up and try to tell us “whoopty scoopty poop,” it’s time for intelligent folks to listen elsewhere.