“ I feel like me and Taylor might have sex / I made that bitch famous ”
Kanye West did another thing. And I don’t think it’s a big deal. Turns out that I’m more a fan of music and Rock & Roll than I am a fan of being easily offended; because I have no issue with this lyric. Perhaps it’s time to hand in my SJW card.
To briefly clarify, I differentiate music and Rock & Roll because Rock & Roll is a lifestyle. Sure, a great many musicians play Rock & Roll music but they’re not very Rock & Roll. You know, like Coldplay for example. And a great many people whom don’t play Rock & Roll music, Andy Warhol/Bill Hicks/Bill Clinton, are very much Rock & Roll.
People like Kanye.
For the record, and to attempt to cut off any white knighting, I’m against misogyny, racism, bullying and whatever other socially kinetic buzzword has been used to describe Kanye’s lyric. That shit is wrong and bad and if you disagree you are wrong and bad.
I just don’t think the lyric in question is deserving of such scorn. Its artistic merit can be questioned I guess, but it’s art so… you know… it’s subjective. Unlike misogyny, racism and bullying there is not a definitive right or wrong stance.
I know it’s popular to deride Kanye West for being a raging, childish, egomaniac tool that says and does things that make him look like a raging, childish, egomaniac tool. It’s a populist stance and one that’s as easy to take as it is to hate on Nickelback. Which, for all you hipsters out there, now makes it cool to like Nickelback.
Long story short – Kanye West did something and people were butthurt.
Now, to help put this into perspective I’m gonna take you back to the past. It wasn’t all that long ago that the best and coolest member of a little band by the name of The Beatles (ask your parents, or grandparents) stated “We’re more popular than jesus.” And at the time they kinda were. Christianity was on the decline and the popularity of The Beatles was on the rise. Not only did The Beatles definitively exist but their music encouraged peace, love and togetherness. And, eventually, taking giant amounts of acid. Millions of fans believed in them and followed the mantras of their music religiously. Like it or not they changed the shape of modern music and were kind of a big deal.
Typically enough the whole “more popular than jesus” thing kicked them in the balls. Especially in the United States. Who’d have thought?! The United States has historically been so measured in their response to such things!
So yeah, the moral right was outraged by this statement and the usual people did the usual protests and boycotts which contributed to The Beatles never touring again. Even the Ku Klux Klan turned up to protest and show their disdain at The Beatles comments.
Nice work asshats.
Though it has to be said, if you have the Ku Klux Klan protesting your events you’re doing something right.
Now I know this may come as a bit of a shock to a lot of teenage girls, unlucky in love 20-somethings, mothers trying to be hip and weird dudes of varying ages but Taylor Swift is not a deity to be worshipped.
I enjoy Taylor Swift as much as the next guy. I do. I enjoy her middle of the road music, her aesthetic and tightly contrived personality. She’s ok. In my personal hierarchy of current female pop singers I rank her significantly below Lana Del Rey and significantly above Katy Perry.
But Taylor Swift isn’t jesus.
And Kanye didn’t say anything as provocative as to besmirch the popularity of the supposed higher power of a 2,000 year old cult. Yet we’ve seen a similar level of undeserved and, quite frankly, bizarre hostility directed to the orator of the aforementioned lyric.
The almighty and indefinable “social media” has determined that what Kanye did/said/rapped was BAD. People with nothing better to do took to twitter/facebook/etc. to vent their outrage and call for a boycott of Kanye’s new album lest they fall on the wrong side of trending social trends. This faux outrage gained enough momentum that what is collectively known and loosely defined as “real news outlets” reported on it.
This purported “controversy” was discussed on network television news programs. Fuck Syria, fuck the new cold war, fuck the Zika virus. This is Kanye and Taylor. This shit is serious.
I could write another 10,000 words on the current state of the news media and their lack of proportion but I digress.
Now. Bear with me.
There are no more Rock Stars. We’ve killed them all.
I don’t mean the unstoppably grim forward momentum of time that’s taken so many greats from us. I mean the rabid, overly politically correct, moral outrage that people are so eager to share amongst their friends and loved ones via social media. The unrepentant righteous indignation throughout the populous hasn’t been this strong since the 60’s.
In modern times if a musician says or does something that is morally ambiguous or slightly different from the societal blandness that has crushed music down into the equivalent of a goddamn McDonalds Happy Meal™ everyone loses their minds and the musician in question is vilified as a public menace and enemy of common decency.
Christ, remember when Janet Jackson flashed her tit at the Superbowl, then had to lie about it because of the backlash then… kinda went away?
“To twitter! To facebook! To the message boards!! This slight aberration from the living ambien of my life must be destroyed! I’m outraged and everyone must be told! Won’t somebody think of the children!”
Yet we yearn for the halcyon days of Rock & Roll.
Well heads up – Rock & Roll isn’t nice, politically correct blandness. It’s not who has sold the most records, or who won the most awards and it’s definitely not who’s on the cover of what magazine.
Rock & Roll is dirty and mean. It’s destructive. It’s groupies and decadence. It’s The Beatles saying they’re bigger than jesus. It’s Vince Neil killing his friend in a drunken car crash and not being found guilty because he had a gig to play. It’s Johnny Cash starting a forest fire and not caring about wildlife. It’s Janet Jackson’s tit at the superbowl. It’s Ozzy Osbourne snorting ants and pissing on the Alamo. It’s creativity and saying “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!”
These events are historical flashpoints. Those who appreciate what Rock & Roll is all about talk about these moments with a reverence on parity with the moon landing or the JFK assassination. We love discussing the over the top Rock & Roll antics of days gone by, possibly because they happen so rarely in these modern times.
So please, for the love of Rock, step away from your keyboard, put down your moral outrage and let us have Kanye. He’s all we have.
As an aside, in the Kanye-est way possible he has a valid point. He did make Taylor Swift famous.
There’s a part of me that believes that there are no accidents in the music industry. That the whole “Imma let you finish…” was actually a highly orchestrated ruse to help usher Taylor’s shift from country singer to pop icon.
But let’s take it at face value.
The Taylor Swift phenomenon didn’t fully crystalise until post-2009 VMA’s. Her first eponymous album hardly set the world on fire. Her sophomore album Fearless achieved more mainstream success and slowly Taylor began working her way higher up the hierarchy of celebrity.
Then the 2009 VMA’s happened.
Previous generations may have measured success and importance by record sales, magazines covers and the circle jerk that is award ceremonies, but today, here and now, if you’re turned into a globally understood meme you’ve made it. Taylor Swift was #TrendingWorldwide that night and you couldn’t avoid memes of the incident for weeks to come, firmly establishing her as part of the modern cultural zeitgeist.
If you still wish to measure a musicians success like your parents did, with sketchy record sale figures and fake accolades (#PayolaIsAliveAndWell), the figures still show that post-2009 VMA’s Taylor has sold more records and received more awards than pre-VMA’s Taylor. #WhatIsCasualReasoning?
- Don’t be like your parents, or your parent parents, who chided you, or your parents, for liking those long haired, loud mouthed Brits. It’s ok when musicians behave like musicians.
- In this day and age when actual Rockstars are so few and far between, Noel Gallagher, one of the last of a dying breed, stated in a recent interview that Kanye is one of the last living rock kings and who am I, who are we, to argue?
- Oh Taylor, you truly are history’s greatest victim.
- Kanye. You’re the hero we deserve, but not the one we need right now.