Every time Kanye West pulls another stunt, I feel like I’m Lex and Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park, trapped in a tour vehicle while a Tyrannosaurus rex breaks free from its electric fence. If I just don’t move… just don’t acknowledge him… he won’t be able to see me and maybe, neither will his vicious alt-right trolls.
The amount of words you can safely type on Twitter without being descended on by far-right lunatics dwindles every day. Those words no longer include “Kanye West,” because ever since West professed his love for Donald Trump (this year), deluded vlogger Candace Owens (who insists she’s not far-right, but also insists she’s “not like other blacks” and thinks black people get shot by the police because of coincidence, so she’s at least far from intelligent), and other far-right wackadoos, the minute you type his name online your mentions are flooded with his new, unhinged fan base.
White men and women who had no use for Kanye when he was rapping about racism in America, the prison-industrial complex, and police brutality now can’t wait to commend him because of West’s new, uneducated stance that “slavery was a choice.”
On Tuesday, during an interview on TMZ Live, West said, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years, for 400 years? That sounds like a choice. Like, you were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all? It’s like we’re mentally in prison. I like the word ‘prison’ because slavery goes too direct to the idea of blacks. Prison is something that unites us as one race, blacks and whites being one race. We’re the human race.”
I didn’t actually watch this interview because I’m not a masochist and find no hilarity in watching a man that I once respected sic racial hatred on his fan base. But it was easy enough to find out what happened because before the alt-right trolls could glom on to West’s speech, my timeline was inundated with shocked retweets of West’s nonsense. At this point, to further retweet West’s nonsense, to engage with any of his tweets or uneducated ranting as he continues to prop up white-supremacist ideals, will only give him more power and reach.
Didn’t Michelle Wolf just close out her White House Correspondents’ Dinner stand-up set by admonishing the media for how they dealt with Trump? “You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. If you’re going to profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any.”
Cultural news is just as important as political news, and how we discuss culture can directly affect cultural mores and how people view the world. But at a certain point, reporting on West isn’t actually news and obsessing over him isn’t productive. His tweets aren’t going to influence policy decisions the way Trump’s might, they’re merely the ravings of a celebrity who has turned from a pro-black aesthetic to one of a white supremacist, and now that we know that… what more is there to say? He’s as dangerous as Rachel Dolezal—his mere existence gives racists the opportunity to spew their hatred and his continued clamoring for attention, as Dolezal does in Netflix’s The Rachel Divide, is as desperate as it is insidious.
Our obsession with West is truly about attention—giving him attention or giving yourself attention for a funny retweet or clever response to something he said, as if it’s terribly hard to come up with a clever response to a man who’s a professed non-reader of books. I’m sure West isn’t done. I’m sure he has more media oxygen to suck up. I’m also sure that by obsessing over it, we may see the second coming of Donald Trump: a man who knows every monstrous thing he does will continue to be amplified as long as we can profit from it.