Positive Cynicism – Celebrity apologies are not a magical reset button

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

Who the hell is Kanye West?

I mean, really, who is he? One minute, several years ago, he was some guy rapping badly in a Brandy video, and now, to hear him (and only him) tell it (which he does, repeatedly), he’s the most important guy in the history of music. He reminds you as often as he can, rather desperately, that his opinion really matters.

He’s also, if you were watching the VMAs last night, a bully and a boor and someone who really, really doesn’t deserve to be listened to.

Last night, in a surprise win, Taylor Swift was given the award for Best Female Video. “I always dreamed about what it would be like to win one of these one day,” she gushed. “I never thought it would happen.” There she was, a 19 year-old girl, flush with victory, experiencing a moment of feckless joy, validated by pop music fandom for, of all things, a country song … when Kanye West ambles onto the stage, drunk on self-importance, and takes the microphone away from her.

“Hey, Taylor, I’m really happy for you,” he said, “I’m going to let you finish …” Then he turned to the audience and yelled out “… but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”

And then he actually handed the microphone back to her, his moment of asswipery over, and left her standing there, confused. Humiliated. I felt humiliated for her. The whole audience, which gave Kanye West a loud round of boos, tried to pick her spirits back up by giving her a standing ovation. But now when Taylor Swift looks back on her moment, the moment when MTV viewers gave her an award she’d dreamed of winning, she gets to remember it this way: that a self-important douche bag who can’t just make the decision not to be obnoxious took the microphone out of her hand and told the entire audience that she didn’t deserve to win only because the Great Kanye decided that she didn’t.

There’s no other word that fits him so well: what an asshole.

It was hardly the first time Kanye West has decided, like a toddler with a dirty diaper, that he couldn’t hold it in. He did the same thing to Gretchen Wilson in 2004 when she beat him for Best New Artist. Remember when he posed as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone and said that if someone was writing the Bible today, he’d be one of the main characters? This is the idiot who threatened the Grammys in 2005 that there would be “trouble” if he didn’t win an award. Regardless of his opinion — and it’s just that, one man’s opinion — it was not an appropriate time or place to express it.

But no, like a hungry baby, he couldn’t control his need to cry and, once again, tiresomely, boorishly, he ambushed the stage and took away someone else’s moment by making everything about him. It was a tasteless spectacle born of the ego of an immature man who is desperate — desperate — to be seen as someone Important, and yet proves endlessly how small and insignificant he really is. Remember, this is the guy who didn’t even wait until Michael Jackson was in the ground to declare himself the new King of Pop.

I noticed last night that a lot of celebrities attending the event took to Twitter to register their anger. Pink said, “Kanye West is the biggest piece of shit on earth. Quote me.” Disney star David Henrie said Kanye West was an “arrogant immature child that needs to get spanked in the face.” Katy Perry said simply, “Fuck U Kanye.”

Does this mean that the music industry is finally going to stop taking him and his pathetically delicate attempts at thuggishness seriously?

For her part, Taylor Swift handled his attack on her gracefully. Just minutes later, she performed her award-winning song, “You Belong with Me,” and if she was upset about the incident it didn’t show in her performance. She took that negative experience and channeled it into a great performance. Good for her. She’s a true professional. And it didn’t hurt that the audience — who loudly booed Kanye throughout the night whenever his name was mentioned — was on her side.

Kanye West was asked by MTV to leave. They should keep him out permanently until he learns to behave like a grown-up.

Beyonce also showed some grace when she won the Best Video Award and said, “I remember being 17 years old and up for my first MTV award with Destiny’s Child. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.” She then invited Swift to come back out on stage and give her entire acceptance speech again.

Kanye later “apologized,” I guess. The latest in a long, long line of insincere celebrity apologies appeared on his blog, so I guess that’s supposed to be really genuine. After all, why apologize to someone personally when you can just write about it online? And even though, in his “apology,” he still reasserts that Taylor Swift didn’t deserve the award and Beyonce did, and intimates that he shouldn’t have to apologize and doesn’t deserve being booed because he’s just “a fan of real pop culture,” he does manage to type: “I’M SOOOOO SORRY TO TAYLOR SWIFT AND HER FANS AND HER MOM.”

So, you know, that fixes everything. He’s not only sorry, he’s SOOOOO sorry. And that magically erases his moment of disrespect and asinine behavior, doesn’t it? Because no matter what he lowers himself to do, being SOOOOO sorry is just as good as not having done it at all, right?

“College Dropout” has never seemed more appropriate a name for one of Kanye West’s endeavors. He truly has no class.

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

  1. Andrew Gilchrist September 15, 2009
  2. Andrew Gilchrist September 15, 2009
  3. Joelle September 16, 2009
  4. Sasparilla Gretsch September 21, 2009

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