Kanye deserves criticism

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By: Kyndall Cunningham, Columnist 

Kanye West has never fascinated me. Despite being a fan of his music, his brand of arrogant, narcissistic, stunt-based celebrity has never amused me the way it amuses others, especially when artists like Beyonce and Frank Ocean can create great music without being complete jerks. So for the past week, I’ve been trying to avoid Kanye’s bombastic tweets on life, art and technology. But with nearly every one of my followers retweeting him, I was forced to hit the mute button after a couple of days.

For the most part, Kanye’s advice to his Twitter followers is seemingly practical, which makes him a philosophical genius by social media standards.

“Don’t follow crowds. Follow the innate feelings inside of you.”

“As a creative, your ideas are your strongest form of currency.”

These aren’t exactly groundbreaking ideas, but Twitter typically likes to elevate mediocrity. However, his tweets went completely into left field when he said that he liked the way right-wing, “red pill” media personality Candace Owens thinks. He linked a video of her denouncing what she considered America’s imaginary race war. Owens has appeared on Infowars, promotes conspiracy theories on YouTube and considers herself a “red pill black,” a black member of the alt-right. Kanye has since deleted the tweet, but he has been posting a number of tweets defending “free thought.”

This may not come as a surprise to some, considering that Kanye met with Donald Trump after he had won the election in 2016 and stated that he would have voted for Trump at one of his concerts. However, due to a mental breakdown that required hospitalization a month prior, his fans weren’t ready to call him out as a bigoted Trump supporter, as most would with any other celebrity.

As outlandish as Kanye’s behavior was in 2016, it certainly wasn’t the first time he had exhibited it, and I’m not talking about any of his feuds with Taylor Swift. I recall him tweeting in 2016 that Bill Cosby was innocent and, before then, insulting the ex-husband (Wiz Khalifa) of his ex-girlfriend (Amber Rose), unleashing sexist, degrading tweets about her and saying that he owned their child.

As a feminist, I can never convince myself that Kanye is a progressive figure for the black community or the music industry for the matter. In the era of #MeToo, it seems like more and more abusive, misogynistic men in the rap and R&B world are thriving rather than suffering the consequences of their bad behavior. It’s not hard for me to reconcile my love for someone’s art with how they treat other humans beings.

The black community cherishes Kanye obviously. But they often treat him like he lacks agency. I remember when he dropped “Yeezus” around the time that he married Kim Kardashian. People who hated the album automatically blamed his new sound on his marriage to a Kardashian. Black people often joke that Kanye is in “the sunken place,” as if he’s been trapped by an evil family of white supremacists like the main character in “Get Out.”

Kanye deserves the same ridicule and criticism online for his awful behavior as women get for being way less controversial. People have more anger at celebrities like Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez for not expressing their political views strongly enough than Kanye for proudly supporting a member of the alt-right and our racist president. That’s not to say that we should never listen to Kanye’s discography ever again. But we can hold the people we admire accountable and acknowledge that the blame for their actions solely belongs to them.

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