Two weeks have passed since the Kimmel/Kanye Twitter incident and it’s time we take a step back and process what happened. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the incident, here’s a breakdown: Kanye West recently did an interview with BBC Radio host Zane Lowe to discuss everything from his recent album “Yeezus” to classism, leather jogging pants and rap as the new rock ‘n’ roll.
Later, Jimmy Kimmel responded with a skit that re-enacted the West-Lowe interview using two children, essentially infantilizing West and his words. In return, West backlashed at Kimmel with abrasive and juvenile tweets, including “#NODISRESPECTTOBENAFFLECK,” “#ALLDISRESPECTTOJIMMYKIMMEL” and others.
I am not writing to defend West’s response or even to defend his recent record. My goal is to highlight how, within a couple of hours, an artist can easily be dismissed by the general public on the basis of ignorance and laziness. I understand that public scrutiny of music and artists in general is not a new phenomenon, but I hope to at least take a breather and reflect on this one incident, perhaps for the better understanding of art – or not.
Kimmel’s child reenactment emphasized a certain line about “leather jogging pants” that West mentioned in his original interview. In reality, West stated that he and Pusha T had tried introducing the leather jogging pant to Fendi, only to be repeatedly shot down.
Without context, the mention of leather jogging pants seems absurd and doesn’t really hold much value. But since we’re smart and understanding people, let’s attempt to analyze what West just said. For those that don’t know or even care, leather jogging pants are actually a thing. Just because we don’t see anyone on the Stav Hall runway wearing leather jogging pants doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Many pop stars wear them and they are sold at a high price by prominent designers such as Gucci and Versace.
In his interview with Lowe, West attempted to highlight the way in which he and Pusha T were being held down creatively by the powerful and monstrous high-fashion industry that, in this case, may have been acting out of classist or racist ideals.
A larger look at the industry supports this. According to a recent finding by Jezebel.com, 80 percent of the runway models at New York Fashion Week were white. For an event as globally-monitored as Fashion Week, this fact clearly supports dark undertones. Get where I’m going with this?
Still, I will say this: looking at the Zane Lowe interview and his recent Twitter spasms, it is clear that West is a massive introvert who never really got the grasp of toning it down. His interview is abrasive to the point that you almost feel bad for Lowe because of how much he’s being yelled at. Furthermore, West has been selective with his press exposure since the release of “Yeezus” and if you have listened to the record, his Twitter reactions begin to make sense.
Still, he sat down and gave us an honest piece of media. Kanye spoke about his parents, finding his place in music and his many creative decisions that trace back all the way to “The College Dropout.” And when that interview is broken down into a three-minute clip and re-enacted by children for the sake of a quick laugh, I can understand why he would get mad.
In other news, if you are still shocked by the idea of a leather jogging pant, then please watch the actual interview. Leather jogging pants are not the point, of course, though I’m wearing some leather pants right now got ’em at Ragstock the other day – although I think they’re actually leggings for girls, but whatever, still ballin’.
It’s moments like these when we should step back as entertainment consumers to analyze the context of these incidents and attempt to understand an artist from their own perspective.
Of course, some may be more difficult than others Miley, I will never understand.
Now excuse me while I get “turnt” up.