Kanye West has had one of the most bizarre public meltdowns of any celebrity in recent memory. Now, I know some of you might want to point to Mel Gibson’s drunken comments or Charlie Sheen’s weird, drug-filled rambling about tiger blood and imma let you finish, but Kanye West is having the most out-of-control celebrity breakdown of all time:
Keep in mind that in the space of just a couple of months, Kanye made antisemitic comments, got kicked off Instagram and Twitter, lost his deals with Adidas and Balenciaga, decided to run for president, chose to hire Milo Yiannopoulos and Nick Fuentes to be staffers on his campaign, had a controversial dinner with Donald Trump, walked off Tim Pool’s show, was allowed back on Twitter, noted that his former wife Kim Kardashian slept with Chris Paul, got kicked off Twitter AGAIN for posting a Star of David with a swastika inside of it and gushed about Nazis and Hitler while ALEX JONES of all people, pretty clearly thought Kanye had gone too far:
Just the Alex Jones appearance alone produced gems from Kanye like, “Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler” and “Stop dissing the Nazis." Wow. In fact, this has been so over-the-top that you almost have to wonder if Kanye is engaged in self-sabotage because he’s sick of being a celebrity and wants to find a way to destroy his career. Whatever the case may be, there are some lessons from what has been going on with Ye over the last couple of months that we can take away from this.
1) Fame doesn’t make you better and smarter than everyone else: Americans love celebrities. We follow them on Twitter, watch them on Instagram, buy products they endorse, pay attention to what they say about politics and consume every scrap of news about them. We also tend to project our fantasies onto celebrities and idealize them. That’s nothing to feel bad about because believe it or not, scientific studies show that even monkeys basically do the same thing:
Monkeys of both genders valued sex and status, accepting less food or juice to see images of monkey genitalia and faces of high-status males. In contrast, they required extra food or juice to look at faces of low-status males.
That being said, you have to remember something very important about celebrities. As a general rule, they are genetically lucky people who are more attractive than average AND have an incredible skill/gift in one or two highly desirable areas. Maybe they’re a great actor, have phenomenal genetics for building muscle, or are just naturally charismatic. Kanye West is an incredibly gifted musician, is almost super-humanly confident, and has shown a flair for self-promotion that can only be described as genius. Those are an incredibly profitable and rewarding set of skills to have, but do they really make someone smarter or better than other people? Our monkey brains say “YES! I WILL GIVE UP SOME BANANA TO LOOK AT HIGH-STATUS HUMAN,” but our common sense should give us more perspective.
Kanye could teach us a lot about music or building a brand, but politics? Wisdom? Good decision-making? He doesn’t have anything to offer. Neither do most celebrities. They can’t lead you to success, they can’t tell you the smart policies to endorse and they can’t even give you good advice. They’re just famous and unfortunately, being skilled at acquiring fame doesn’t necessarily translate to much of anything else.
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2) The standards we have for success in America are incredibly superficial: By the standards of the world, up until recently, Kanye West was arguably one of the 25 most successful people in America. After all, not so long ago, Kanye West was a BILLIONAIRE and was married to one of the most desirable women in the world, Kim Kardashian. He was – and still is – one of the most famous people in the United States. Kanye had 30 million Twitter followers, 21 Grammies, 107 entries on the Billboard Top 100 list, partnerships with the most prestigious brands in America, and could probably get anyone from the president on down to take his calls.
So, isn’t Kanye successful? Well, it depends on what you consider “success,” doesn’t it? Kanye may have married Kim Kardashian and had children with her, but she filed for divorce from him in 2020, apparently after cheating on him and she’s currently getting 200k PER MONTH in child support.
Unquestionably, Kanye is not even remotely mentally stable. Also, one of the things that go along with his fame is probably as much hate/abuse/spite hurled at him online every day as any million ordinary people get in a lifetime. On top of that, pretty clearly, judging by his behavior, Kanye also doesn’t have a friend or confidant he’ll listen to who can tell him, “no,” or “I’m telling you this because I care about you… this is a TERRIBLE IDEA.” Right now, it’s probably awful to be him because he spent his whole life building up this incredible empire and it’s collapsing all around him because of his own dumb comments. Look at Ye’s face after his Tim Pool appearance:
The man is a legend and he’s sitting there eating dinner with a guy who thinks he’s trash because he’s black and Ye probably even paid for the guy’s food. No wonder he doesn’t look happy. Everyone in America thinks they want the money, fame, and attention that Kanye has in abundance, but I bet you thousands of people with none of those things that will read this today are all happier than he is right now. Money, fame, and attention are all great to have, but they’re hollow. The things that ultimately make someone successful aren’t the golden calves our society tries to convince us to worship.
3) Everyone deserves a chance at forgiveness: America has become an unforgiving society. Certainly, that has long been the case for certain offenses. You kill someone, you rape a woman, you molest a child and many people will understandably always judge you by that act. However, things have progressed to the point now where somebody makes a bad joke, a dumb tweet or has a rotten day on camera and they also get forever defined as “bad people” by that one moment. Yet everybody makes mistakes, nobody is perfect all the time and if ALL OF US had our very worst moments shown to the world, we’d end up being treated like pariahs, too. Yet, the world shouldn’t be that way. Almost all of us, even Kanye, should be given a shot at redemption.
Now, you may say, “Kanye doesn’t deserve to be forgiven! For God’s sake, the guy said, ‘I like Hitler!’ Come on, man! You wrote a piece called, ‘In Defense of Jews’ last month, probably in response to the things he’s been saying (it was)! How can you say this guy deserves a chance at being redeemed?”
Well, right this moment, Kanye certainly doesn’t deserve a pass. Saying “all is forgiven” to a guy who’s praising Hitler and the Nazis is obviously the exact wrong thing to do.
However, it’s worth noting that Kanye West apparently has pretty severe manic depression and if you’re afflicted with that illness, you can do some very crazy things when you’re fully engulfed in the mania that comes with it. Believe it or not, when I was younger – and to still to this day, to a degree – I have always wanted to feel what the manic phase of that illness is like. That began when I met a girl in college who told me she was able to work, concentrate and feel excited for 3 straight days at a time. It sounds wonderful and at times, it probably is fantastic – but, the issue is that for a lot of people, there’s not an off switch for the times it spins out of control. Like now with Kanye West. Read this description of the mania phase and see how well it fits with a singer declaring that he’s running for president and telling the world he loves Hitler:
Mania is an extreme feeling of well-being, energy, and optimism—you feel on top of the world. These feelings, however, can be so intense that you can lose contact with reality. You may find yourself believing strange things about yourself, making bad judgments, and behaving in embarrassing, harmful, and sometimes even dangerous ways. Mania can make it difficult or impossible to deal with life in an effective way. A period of mania can if untreated, destroy your relationships and work.
...Other people may notice that you are:
Jumping very quickly from one idea to another.
Making plans that are grandiose and unrealistic.
Very active and moving very quickly.
Behaving in a bizarre way.
Speaking very quickly - it can be difficult for other people to understand what you are talking about.
Making odd decisions on the spur of the moment, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
...Many people report that when they have recovered from one of these episodes they regret the things that they said and did while they were manic.
Here’s what I hope for Kanye West. I hope some people out there who care about him get him out of the public eye, get him home, get him on some meds and he goes, “What the Hell have I been doing?” apologizes and tries to make amends. Many people wouldn’t forgive him even if he did that, but I would because it’s hard to tell where these beliefs start and his bipolar disorder ends.
Just to be clear, bipolar disorder IS NOT an excuse for bad behavior, saying horrible things, and smearing a whole race of people. But, what’s our excuse as a society for continuing to give a man who now obviously appears to be in the middle of a month’s long mental health episode an enormous platform, reacting as if he’s fully sane and using his bad behavior as part of our daily entertainment? Yes, Kanye is responsible for what he’s doing, but there’s also something wrong with the fact that he’s in that position when he’s unwell.
God gave Kanye West an enormous amount of talent. For Ye’s sake and the sake of his kids, I hope he can pull himself back together mentally, step away from all this ludicrous Nazi nonsense that I would be shocked if he really believed, get back to making music, and create a happy life for himself. Maybe you think Kanye doesn’t deserve that opportunity, but let’s face it, if even someone who has screwed up as badly as Kanye can find a way to fix his life and be forgiven, then there’s hope for the rest of us that make mistakes, too.
My interest/take on Kanye is from a very different angle. I'm not certain if I have ever listened to his music, but I am well acquainted with mental illness especially bi-polar disorder. It is gut wrenching to witness a loved one going through a manic state. You are helpless to bring any common sense or reason during a cycle. There are many qualified and competent professionals who can help, but you have to be willing to accept the help offered. I fear Kayne is addicted to the manic state (something that is common with bi-polar people) and not so happy staying medicated. The depressive/manic swings is not a cycle that is sustainable. Sadly he is going through a very public meltdown, I pray he gets the help he needs.
This episode highlights the silliness of the celebrity worship in this country. The fact that someone is very good at singing or acting or some sport does not make them an expert on every conceivable subject. But when some 20 year old pop singer talks about politics or social issues or religion, a surprisingly large number of people listen, as if what this person has to say carries any greater wisdom than any random person they might meet on the street.