|Image from Interwebs|
I was totally going to write about a parenthood issue today. I'd drafted this whole bit about "play dates" in my notebook and was going go all Jerry Seinfeld "what's the deal with?" on that topic. It was funny too. But my focus has completely shifted because a Facebook friend had to go and type the following phrases on the Facebook:
"The only thing that sucks more than SNL is Kanye West...He's a talentless hack with a massive ego and the aesthetic sensibility of a twelve-year-old."Additionally, the person expressing these first amendment opinions later added, all Sal Frangione style, "Grammys suck, too!" when the discussion turned quantitative (Kanye West's 12 Grammy wins). I guess this coda was meant to even further Swift Boat the accomplishments of one of the hardest working, most self-reflective, self-deprecating artists alive.
To sum: Not only is Kanye West a talentless suck-hack, but he has a "massive ego" and his life's work is childlike. And the quantitative defense of Kanye West's talents--Grammy Award wins and record sales--is just meaningless data like global warming science.I don't think a peer-reviewed journal would publish these rants without revisions to the methods and discussion sections, right?
Off line, one guitaring rock and roll friend noted:
"Sorry I missed it. I'm no [Kanye] fan, but I'd kill people barehanded to have his production skills and work ethic."My spiritual adviser noted:
"I think the reason why a lot of people shit on everything nowadays is because of how easily everyone can voice their opinions without the threat of a critical beatdown...
Someone trying to take the low road in front of me always learns right quick-like that I don't roll that way, and that snark is never something I tolerate. One thing to joke among friends, another altogether to make grandiose sweeping generalizations."Exactly! I like about 75% of Kanye's output but continually I'm blown away at what an intelligent, risk-taking, productive industry professional he is. Nobody works harder. Maybe Jack White works as hard. I wonder if the good teacher thinks Jack White sucks too or if Jack White is just simply not one of his preferences, without all the vitriol and hyperbole.
Then the, how'd-this-become-a-race-discussion retreat begins. Welcome to America, patriots. Sometimes a shovel of shit has to be called out for what it is: a shovel of shit!
You see, these types of comments are just way too familiar to me. I've heard them all my life. Maybe that's what's bothering me the most. It's like all the coded Tea Party race attacks on Obama: Muslim. Socialist. Elitist. Out of touch. Basketballing. Joker. The old, frightened, bitter soon-to-be minority whites throw it out there and await virtual high-fives, amens, and tax cuts. John McCain praised Barack Obama's "eloquence." These same codes have been applied to me all my life. Next person who calls me fucking articulate gets a jab in the puss.
Like the late, great Greg Giraldo alluded, just go ahead and say, "HE'S BLACK!!!" and be done with it. It is my belief that people should possibly attempt to "Quit Fronting" and own their damn racism, I try to. I've long tired of "the smart quarterback vs. the athletic receiver" and "the black man as man-child" fables. So played out, without a doubt (and horribly offensive).
Shit, liberals and do-gooders should fucking adore Kanye West if only because he was the one person brave enough to tell America the truth about George W. Bush on the TeeVee after the good lord sent hurricanes and floods and frogs and national guardsmen to New Orleans for its sins. Mike Myers is still PTSD about that one.
It's not surprising that an academic would lash out at something outside of their narrow purview, but I'm astonished that a creative would do that. I understand, I've been both. I cannot stand one sound that Jack Johnson has ever made but you know what? I have respect that Jack Johnson for doing what he does. He works. He give it up for his happy-hippie following. It's not my bag though. Interpretive dance? Not my bag either but people work it like crazy. Peace out with your jazz hands, show choruses of the world.
I just cannot sit idly by when people appropriate the crown jewels of a culture's creativity, make a living off of it, and then criticize the artists still trying to innovate. I wish I sucked as much as Kanye West then.
I refuse to de-friend my Facebook friend however. I respect the creative arts and the first amendment too much to be petulantly passive-aggressive like that. I value my friend's input into the universe of opinion and I hope he calls me out when I bitterly spout off too. It's so worth it.
But what's next with people? GE Smith poo-pooing Buddy Guy? Violent J criticizing Stephen Hawking? Christian Laettner calling Walt Fraizer flashy? Dane Cook dissing Richard Pryor?