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Kanye Acts Out, Leno Manipulates Apology, America Harumphs

September 15, 2009

On Sunday night, rapper Kanye West stormed the stage as young ingenue Taylor Swift accepted her MTV Video Music Award and grabbed the microphone from her, heralding Beyonce’s video prowess. It was boorish. It was ugly. It was rude. And it was totally Kanye’s bag.

Yesterday, the day after the VMA’s, the net was abuzz with talk of the incident. Rumors abound that Kanye had been booted from the VMAs directly after the incident, that he was blogging his apology on the way out. That he called Swift personally and apologized to her later that evening. Even ABC news’ Terry Moran tweeted supposed off-the-record remarks by President Barack Obama that the reigning POTUS had called him a “jackass.”

First off, none of us — none of us, I say — should be surprised that Kanye West acted like this. He acts like this constantly. There’s an entire South Park episode about how often he acts like this. He famously kept Bonnaroo audiences waiting until 4:45 AM to watch him perform at last year’s festival.  He commandeered the mike during a live, televised Hurricane Katrina benefit to declare that George W. Bush “doesn’t care about black people.”

His public outbursts date back to his first American Music Awards awards, in fact, where he stormed out after losing “Best New Artist” to Gretchen Wilson, claiming Wilson’s accolades to be “politically correct bullshit.” He leapt onto the stage at the MTV Europe Awards, after losing “Best Video” to artists Justice and Simian, interrupting the duo and claiming his video was best of the year.

Kanye has repeatedly called himself a “genius.” He’s called himself “bigger than Elvis.” His whole schtick is “all Kanye West, all the time.” So his VMA outburst should mean nothing.

Consequently, neither should his apology.

Last night Jay Leno received an early Christmas present for his new television debut — Kanye was booked the night after the VMA debacle to appear with Jay-Z and Rihanna. I’d love to have heard the champagne corks popping when The Jay Leno Show producers saw Kanye’s antics the evening before their show went live. Using the incident to further garner Leno more publicity, it came as no surprise that called Kanye over to have a seat before the rapper took the stage.

What followed was the most self-aggrandizing double act in recent television history. Kanye hemmed and hawed like a fourth-grader in the corner, pouting and giving his best “I’m sorry” spiel (without actually ever saying he was sorry). Jay brought up Kanye’s mother, who died a couple of years ago, in an attempt to make Kanye emotional. He couldn’t have tried to wrench tears harder if he’d had a crowbar to Kanye’s eye-holes. One had visions of a commercial break where Leno smeared diced onions all over the rapper’s face. Kanye acted as if he was welling up, Jay rubbed Kanye’s knee strangely and faux-lovingly, like a father figure telling a son it’s okay. It was bizarre, and weird, and reeked of being totally scripted and fake. After an appropriate amount of time spent looking sad and regretful, Jay seemed to allow him to go back to the stage and play with his friends, where he joined Jay-Z and Rihanna for a performance of “Run This Town.” And Kanye seemed just fine.

The truth of the matter is that Kanye’s apology didn’t mean anything. Because Kanye’s going to do this again. And he’ll apologize again, for being such a “bad boy.” And then he’ll do something like it again. And apologize again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Shoot first, apologize later. That’s what it’s all about. You can do whatever you want if you apologize, right?

This time Kanye may have stepped in it. While Gretchen Wilson, at the time, was fairly loved, she was nothing compared to the tween following of Taylor Swift. And don’t think those middle schoolers are going to forget how Kanye stole their girl’s moment.

Kanye may be talented. He may be entertaining. But he’s wearing thin, and the VMA’s was the first sign of America’s Kanye fatigue. Sorry Kanye, but this whole Muhammad Ali act is getting old. Acting like a dick is only shocking, funny or cool for a few times; eventually you start running low on free passes. We love our entertainers bold and brash. But what you’re doing is just being an ass.

What’s that? Hurt your feelings? I’m sorry. There, everything’s fixed.

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