Friday, July 19

Battle of the Columnists: Kanye West

In the past week alone, Kanye West has ranted on Twitter about a Los Angeles Times blog that misprinted his new album title, announced a new abstract film narrated by Nicki Minaj, appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show to display his new diamond teeth, and revealed his new album cover, a painting depicting monsters having sex. Arts & entertainment editor Maryia Krivoruchko and film/TV editor Alex Goodman debate West’s latest antics, and his place as a cultural icon.

Was West justified ranting about the typo in the Los Angeles Times blog, or did he go too far?

Maryia Krivoruchko: Though this was a great publicity stunt, even I can’t defend Kanye on this one. While it is problematic that such an error wasn’t caught by the LA Times, the tweets that West sent out went too far. The worst part was that West misspelled writer Chris Lee’s name as “Kriss Lee.” Everyone gets angry, Kanye, but spell -check wouldn’t hurt when you’re complaining about the media failing to proofread.

Alex Goodman: Reacting with such inappropriate anger to a simple typographical error, it seems to me that Kanye has to be either paranoid or desperate for attention. I understand that “beautiful” is the most important word in his new album’s title, but assuming that a small misprint is indicative of an entire campaign by the Los Angeles Times to give his album a negative connotation is a dark, twisted fantasy indeed.

Can his new abstract film, “Runaway,” be a new art form? Or will it just be another stunt?

Maryia Krivoruchko: I have faith that if the film-noir inspired feature is anything like his last few videos including “Power,” it will indeed be art. The only thing that concerns me is the narrator ““ I hope Minaj has more to say than her normal expletives and begging men to buy her a bottle of rosé wine like she does to Trey Songz in “Bottoms Up.”

Alex Goodman: If “Power” is any indication, “Runaway” will be nothing more than a self-indulgent bunch of nonsense. If his performance at the MTV Video Music Awards is any indication, it will be a self-indulgent bunch of nonsense with funny costumes. In that case, there could be no more appropriate narrator than Nicki Minaj, who’s following in Kanye’s footsteps by making a career out of confusing people with absurdity.

West has replaced his bottom teeth with diamonds. Is this a legitimate fashion statement, or is it just too much?

Maryia Krivoruchko: Kanye is no stranger to dental work. “Through the Wire” (2003) already revealed his innermost thoughts about having his jaw wired shut, and I don’t see what’s so groundbreaking in the music world about getting his teeth replaced with jewels. It’s not even that original ““ Lil’ Wayne encrusted his choppers long ago ““ this is just the next step up. Kanye now wears expensive dentures ““ so what?

Alex Goodman: There are fashion statements, there are ridiculous fashion statements and there is Lady Gaga. But even Gaga’s meat dress came off at the end of the day ““ Kanye now has no choice but to flash a smile that sparkles like Edward Cullen in the sunlight. And talk about giving young people body image issues; how are kids supposed to feel OK about their real teeth, if teeth weren’t good enough for Kanye?

Walmart has reportedly refused to sell West’s new album because of its explicit art. Is such a cover creative or indecent?

Maryia Krivoruchko: The cover is indecent, and frankly not even that well-drawn. It doesn’t matter though ““ Kanye isn’t about taste. Kanye is about solid music (besides 808s & Heartbreak (2008)), crazy antics, bad behavior and being a scumbag just to sing about it. So go ahead and compare your album art to Nirvana’s, Mr. West ““ frankly, at this point you know you can get away with anything.

Alex Goodman: The problem with being the most ridiculous figure in pop music is that you constantly have to find new ways to outdo yourself. At some point, though, people have to realize that all the antics are meaningless, and a rebel without a cause can’t start much of a revolution. If Kanye wants to shock people with a pornographic painting, go right ahead, but if the music isn’t daring, it will just be another tasteless album cover.

Is West really a “soldier of culture,” as he has stated in the past?

Maryia Krivoruchko: Absolutely. It doesn’t matter that he has diamond teeth, that he interrupts sweet little country singers on stage or wrongly insults major newspapers. As long as he’s around we’ll be talking about him, and we’ll be doing “whatever the Kan like,” whether we like it or not.

Alex Goodman: If anything, Kanye is a soldier against culture. He takes an internship with Fendi when he’s feeling antagonized in the United States, and replaces his teeth with diamonds when he feels like it; no one could emulate him if they tried.

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