Kanye West Doesn’t Care About Media People
In 2005, rapper Kanye West famously went off-script during a live, nationally-televised Hurricane Katrina benefit concert, when he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Five years later, former President George W. Bush is firing back.
Last week, Mr. Bush released Decision Points, a memoir that chronicles his time in office. In an interview with Matt Lauer, Bush called it the worst moment of his presidency:
“He called me a racist. And I didn’t appreciate it then, I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, ‘I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.’ It’s another thing to say, ‘This man’s a racist.’ I resent it, it’s not true.”
Late last week, Mr. West appeared on the Today Show to retract his comments regarding President Bush.
But little with Kanye West is ever easy. During the interview, he scolded Matt Lauer, asked the crew to “be quiet,” and stopped the interview to say it was “ridiculous” that Today showed video as he was talking (a common television practice).
During the interview, Mr. West said, “I’ve made mistakes. I’ve grown as a person.” But actions speak louder than words. His behavior is more consistent with the hothead who called President Bush a racist and the bully who ripped a microphone out of Taylor Swift’s hands than a man who’s demonstrated impressive self-growth.
Mr. West further undercut his message when he announced he would cancel his Today Show concert as a result of Lauer’s “very brutal” interview. In fact, the interview was pretty standard morning fare, and there was little unusual or brutal about it.
Mr. West tried to control the interview in the wrong way by demanding that the news interview occur on his own terms. He would have fared much better by just rolling with the questions and demonstrating that he’s a changed – and more disciplined – man.
I have empathy for Mr. West. He comes across with sincerity, clearly feels remorse for branding President Bush a racist, and wants to do the right thing. But until he aligns his words with his actions, he’s going to remain in his own way.
It was reported in Sunday’s Daily Mail that Kanye West’s media trainer quit following the Today Show interview.
Media training isn’t going to help Kanye. He’s obviously a spoiled, arrogant brat who thinks the world revolves around him and he doesn’t have to obey others’ “rules.” As long as he’s making millions of dollars, that isn’t going to change.
It is interesting that you believe that Kanye “clearly feels remorse for branding President Bush a racist, and wants to do the right thing.”
That may be the case, and I hope it is. But the other possibility is that Kanye was merely looking for publicity. That’s the feeling I get when I see him jump on stage during live broadcasts of awards shows to give his personal opinion about something.
To pick up on your theme, Kanye’s actions do speak louder than his words. He doesn’t just need media training, though, he needs psychological help. It is not all about him.
Steve – Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.
You’re right that there’s more than one way to read his behavior, and you may indeed be right. In forming my analysis, I paid special attention to the congruence of his verbal and non-verbal message. His words, voice, and performance appeared to me to be consistent, leading me to deem him sincere.
In my view, I think Mr. West is like a lot of artists — alternately brilliant and stupid, charming and enraging. By the way, I noticed that Rolling Stone Magazine just named his new album the best of 2010. I suppose he really is a tortured artist…
Thanks again, and please keep visiting!