Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Little Country Goldilocks Mouse and the Big Bad Black Rapper Who Could

By P.D. Bridgewater

Well, it’s on and poppin’ - yes? Seems like I came back from sabbatical just in time to offer a few random (and sometimes rambling) musings about the drama from the VMAs on Sunday.

First off, I know the title to this entry is silly. Not only am I mixing up my fairy tales it’s a cheap appeal to the big black mean man and the innocent golden haired white woman motif but these themes have proven to be unavoidable in this situation.

Ok, real talk: I’m finding it harder and harder not to get in on some of the crazy action. Why, I asked myself after Kanye's weird but funny blog entry Sunday night, is everybody acting(?) so crazy this summer.

Just in case you haven't heard about the latest crazy action, Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Video – the first award of the evening. I didn’t watch it live (I would have had to be in the audience to do that) nor did I watch it with Kanye who saw it on TV with everybody else (I dont own a TV) but I “heard” about it via Facebook when all of my FBPEEPS started registering their disgust. At first, no one bothered to mention what he did - they just said that West was ignorant or that he had gone too far this time, or that he should be ashamed. I finally found out that ‘Ye had bounded onstage, took the mic from Taylor Swift and said some foolishness about B’s video being the best of all time (has he not heard of Thriller?). All of this happened as Swift was expressing her surprise that she, a country singer, was selected by these big city folks for this honor.

The whole story – from beginning to end – was hilarious to me. In fact, I LOL’d. I was even more amused when I read Kanye’s rushed and disingenuous apology where he said that Swift’s mother had said what his mom would have said had somebody did that to him. He ended it, though, by saying that although he was sorry, he had to do it! So, just like when he was on stage with Swift, he was still mixing irreverence with a dab of politeness – I loved it! A perfect example of righteous indignation of an artist splashed with hip hop and high tech highlights!

I wasn’t mad at ‘Ye nor was I shocked – West has a history of award show shenanigans. And despite all that I think Kanye is a very smart hip hop artist who, as his mother’s only child - a boy child- was spoiled and encouraged to speak his mind. From his lyrics and behavior Kanye has been telling us for years that he has an ego fueled by talent and nurtured (and indulged) by his mother. So when he performs true to form – I appreciate the man-child's consistency. I was alone in my appreciation for Kanye last night. Even my attempt to temper criticism by reminding my FBPEEPS that this was the same spontaneous young man who spoke truth to power while many (most?) of us were still dazed and confused after the Bush/Brownie debacle during and after hurricane Katrina in 2005. No one bought it so I went to bed.

I woke Monday morning with my stayed on Kanye - but my mind had changed. No, I had not joined the chorus of Kanye critics (to which the POTUS has apparently has added his voice). I woke with a nagging feeling that all of us had been duped – that the event on the stage had been, well, staged. B’s quick and well articulated generosity and Swift's poise were at the core of suspicion although larger socio- (pop) cultural dynamics were at play as well.

Here's the theory I posted on FB Monday afternoon:

“Kanye clowns the young blonde who won best female video award at the VMAs on MTV. He can do it cuz, well, young black men do what they pleez in the US especially w/ young blondes. K? k. so the blonde youngun sings instead of cries (since when?) then...B wins a bigger award! The next nite Kanyeezy is on Jay Leno's debut wch wz expectd to fail but doesnt cuz we tune in to see Jay ask 'Ye abt the VMAs! mmmmmk?”

The responses showed varying degrees of hostility towards Kanye’s antics – whether staged or not. Since my earlier posting, my suspicions have all but been confirmed by me. First, one of my FBPEEPS brought up the fact that rather than the shimmering shiny frock Taylor Swift wore when she accepted the award, she wore the same material as Beyonce during her performance. This new wrinkle makes me wonder why we even bother with MTV if we suspect that, like last year’s staged disruption, they thought it wise in this climate of hostility directed toward "uppity" black men (as in like Obama, Holder, Gates, Van Jones, now West) to have this particular trope played out.

Tempers have been running hot this summer and I had hoped Serena WIlliams' outburst at the US Open would mark the end of the summer of temper tantrums and "town hall moments" but, alas it was not to be. The crazies are spewing their venom all over twitter and beyond. ck out http://harryallen.info/?p=5154#more-5154. There you will find a cogent discussion of racist tweets using the word N*GG*R (asterisks added), the racist post that all suggest lynching West and the racist violent ones that have a common them re: putting various items in Kanye’s ass. Equally disturbing where the black folks saying that Kanye’s conduct had set black folks back 50 years. (I wonder how many years his recent collaboration on with Drake on “Poke(H)er Face” took us back).

Enter President Obama who after an interview on health care reform calls ‘Ye a jackass – but off the record in case he wants to bum a Newport from him or have him perform again at an inauguration in Jan. 2013. (note to POTUS: stop commenting on dumb shit! First Gates gate now West Gate). ck it out:

Finally, I read that after saying he was soooo sorry, Kanye, Rhianna and Jay-Z performed masterfully together on Jay Leno’s show.

ck it out at

Well all I know is that my nagging feeling earlier this morning and the developments throughout the day have me appreciating Mr. West Mr. West Mr. West less and less. If the whole thing was staged then he is less the impetuous, passionate, stream of consciousness devil may care, rude boy man child hip hop visionary I admire so and more like everybody else (and me) - looking to get in on the crazy action. The problem is that the present climate in the country (a la Rep. Wilson, the birthers, Glen Beck, the 9/12ers, and 'Obama is a socialist, nazi, death panelist' crazies) - the crazy action oftentimes involves racism, violence (sexual and otherwise) or greed.

Sadly, people end up getting hurt especially when, like now, it involves all three.


  1. staged? really?

    the publicity has been enormous, but so much negativity. why stage it?

  2. @ anonymous: Ive retreated from this somewhat. I think it was "facilitated." with the hope that it would make for good TV. It did but the backlash drowned it out. I don't think anyone could have anticipated the extreme negativity (read: racist and violent) reactions and no sane person would want that but with everyone performing their roles so well I just feel like 'Ye's antics were were allowed if not encouraged. - PB

  3. Kanye lives by 'no press is bad press'.
    The way I view 'Ye's outbursts {on a regular basis}:
    'Everyone feel a way about K, but at least you feel something' (from "Bring Me Down")

    Everyone's talking about him! Everybody knows who he is! He's a master Marketer.
    People love to hate him sometimes, but he's willing to bet his songs will still get airplay, his albums will still go platinum, and his concerts will be sold out.

    So far, he's right.

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