Why No One Can Ignore Kanye West — Even When They Want To
It's no secret that the world can't seem to ignore Kanye West. He's inescapable with his all-caps, exclamation-pointed tweets about Bill Cosby to his claims that Taylor Swift herself came up with the famous "Famous" line about her becoming breaking news items, trending topics, and think pieces that fill everyone's social feeds. The constant headlines are the reasons why you can't ignore Kanye West. They force us all to wonder, "Is this guy for real?" as though at any second, West's going to just throw up his hands and say "you got me!"like this has all been a joke so good it rivals Joaquin Phoenix's stint as a fake rapper for his very real 2010 documentary I'm Still Here.
The thing, though, is that Kanye West is very real — and that realness, no matter how fake it seems, is what keeps us all coming back for more.
The reasons people can't help but click on a story about Donald Trump, are likely the same reasons they keep reading about Kanye West: everything they do and say is fascinating, ridiculous, and sometimes even funny. Even when they go too far, we all can't help but wonder what they'll do next — and even if this weird obsession fills us with some internal guilt, we just can't help ourselves from thriving on this gossip. It's not even our fault, really: In 2011, a scientific study found that the human brain is wired to enjoy gossip, and in a lot of cases, helps us figure out how we feel about someone. With each E! News or Us Weekly story about West, we get closer to deciding whether he's a friend or foe.
Just like high school, no one wants to be left out. It's the reason why so many keep up with the Kardashians or any of the Real Housewives — sure, it's gossip and pure soap opera, but at the same time, we're all compelled to pay attention to the details of their lives because we don't want to be left out of the conversation. You need to follow West on Twitter so you are ready to join in with a clever hashtag or meme that may get a ton of retweets. There's something seductive about being in on the joke, being a part of the conversation. Even President Barack Obama has weighed in on West's antics a few years ago, echoing some of our own feelings with his "jackass" comment. But, he's our jackass right?
Whether we want to admit it, West is the monster we've created. We loved when he got on TV and claimed, with a straight face after Hurricane Katrina, that President George W. Bush "doesn't care about black people." We hated him when he stole Taylor Swift's spotlight at the MTV Video Music Awards. We laugh at his not-so-humble brags about every album being his greatest album, but then we rave about his music and live performances and give some rise to his claims.
West is an artist who needs a lot of feedback (i.e., all his Twitter polls as of late) and he clearly much prefers if it's positive — but when it's not, he doesn't sit back and take it, he decides to fight back. This inability to stay quiet is something the public loves and hates about him. We love when we can laugh at him and his oversized ego, but hate when we have to take him seriously.
West told the Associated Press in 2006, "You want me to be great, but you don't ever want me to say I'm great?" And he's right: That doesn't make much sense. Early on in his career, we set up a vicious cycle where we pick West up, often in hopes of watching him fall. We want him to make music we love, but we don't want to deal with any of his personality quirks. That is, unless we can find something beneficial in them, then we're all in. It's the ultimate love/hate relationship, a relationship West has fun with on "I Love Kanye" off his latest, The Life Of Pablo, where he talks about how we liked the Kanye, but "hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye, the always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye." Public opinion of Kanye changes like the turning of the tides; we love him, we hate him, we love hating him.
Perhaps West is the innovator he claims to be since he's always been one step ahead of us. He's had lots of hiccups and missteps (that "Famous" Taylor Swift line comes to mind) that would make a lesser artist — or just someone more humble — run for the hills, or at the very least permanently delete their Twitter account. But, no — West keeps tweeting, keeps pushing, keeps following his "Stronger" mantra of which that don't kill him will only make him stronger. The real reason we can't ignore West — he just won't let us.
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