Alas poor Kanye, we barely knew thee.
Like many, I’ve become desensitized by the blatant and constant bad behavior of celebrities. But, Kanye West may have taken the Moon Man statue for all-time boneheaded-ness at the VMA ceremony this past Sunday.
We’ve seen the aftermath of hotel room destruction and the punching of camera men. We’ve heard expletive filled tirades by models, actors, musicians and authors. We’ve heard of, and read, performance contract riders demanding everything from pure water melted from Nordic glaciers to M&Ms that must be served at precisely 52 degrees Fahrenheit.
But, Kanye’s on-stage antics were like watching someone club a baby koala to death. Taylor Swift was obviously shocked and surprised. The audience responded with catcalls and boos, and chants of “Taylor” every time that Kanye’s name was mentioned throughout the evening. Something tells me that when an entire auditorium filled with self-absorbed celebrities starts booing you for your behavior; you can say definitively that things are going badly.
Kanye’s incivility really can’t be tempered or rationalized. I think Mr. West is dealing with a lot of personal demons and probably a level of career exhaustion after 4 albums in 5 years, constant touring and the passing of his mother. All that said, as I’ll always maintain, incivility is inexcusable. Celebrities have always been amongst the least self-aware of our citizens. If Kanye was getting to the point where the pressures of his career and personal life were bearing down so heavily on him, he should have recognized the warning signs and taken some time off in Ibiza, or at least Myrtle Beach.
Without a doubt, the saving grace of the evening was Beyonce Knowles. Once again, an ugly event still provides an opportunity for an exercise of civility that can serve as a beacon and guide for us. I don’t put much stock in the histrionics of celebrities, and like most people I question the motives of many celebrities who “do the right thing” as a part of a press opportunity. Certainly Bob Geldof and Bono have shown how celebrities can do the right thing on an impressive and grand scale. I largely considered her to be in the group of celebrities well down the scale from the likes of George Harrison. It was certainly my failing in considering her to be such a lightweight.
Beyonce’s call to Taylor Swift to return to the stage and have her moment was as classy as Kanye’s actions were crass. Beyonce not only felt empowered to correct a wrong, she actually took steps to correct a wrong. At the end of this episode of rudeness and bad manners, the golden lining is that Beyonce showed 27 million viewers that the thing to do when things go wrong is make them right.