It was quite a weekend for Kanye West. In the wee hours of last Friday morning, police detained the rapper after a kerfuffle with a photographer outside a club in Newcastle, England. He was later released without charge. Then, on Saturday, 'Ye posted a long anti-paparazzi rant on his blog, in which he not only argued that the altercation was blown out of proportion, he also raised the specter of Princess Diana's death and called for legal restrictions on the use of celebrity images.
This series of events raises some questions. Chief among them: How bored does someone have to be to find themselves at a Newcastle night club at 4 in the morning? Or whenever the thing went down? But aside from that particular conundrum, Kanye's blog post--which begins by asking, "Who's winning, me or the media?"--is interesting insofar as it calls into question how Kanye sees himself.
Apparently, Yeezy feels misrepresented. But aside from fawning adulation, it's hard to know what would make him feel better about his portrayal. West writes that the media paints him "as a monster." Really? Only Lil' Wayne garners a similar amount of critical praise. New Kanye singles are treated as events. Each new leak from 808's & Heartbreak results in untold amounts of online buzz. The Glow In The Dark tour was rapturously received. Regarding his work as an artist, Kanye is afforded serious, fair attention. It's his portrayal as a person that seems to be the problem.
Certain themes recur whenever Kanye is discussed outside the context of his music: He's an egomaniac, a control freak, a tempter tantrum waiting to happen. Given his immodest touts ("I want to be the greatest performer of this generation") CAPS-HEAVY diatribes, and well-documented backstage rants, it's hard to understand why Kanye feels misrepresented. Yes, the media undoubtedly focuses on his personal negatives rather than any positives. (Does Kanye give to charity? I'd lay down good money he does. Do I know anything about it? No.) But media thirst for negativity is not a new phenomenon, and it's one that is unlikely to change any time soon. That's why, as reductive as it might sound, Kanye needs to grow some thicker skin. He will not win a battle about his image with the media. He is outnumbered and outarmed. He needs to rise above it.
There's another telling line in Saturday's blog entry. Kanye writes that, "I am not a celebrity. I'm a normal person that's just famous." He soon followed that up by telling a radio interviewer, "I've sacrificed real life to be a celebrity and give this art to the people." What does Kanye think real life is? If by "real life," Kanye means a life of obscurity, then he's right. He's given that up. His existence is not normal in that sense. But as a man who seems to deal daily with frustration, disappointment, elation, and joy, it's hard to imagine how much more "real" Kanye thinks his life could, or should, be.
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