The current excitement eating up the web would be completely opaque to me if not for my girlfriend, who has cable, a television on which to watch it, and reliable internet connectivity and cellphone batteries with which to communicate important things which occur to me. I'm talking, of course, about Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. Please note, my gentle readers, I really wanted to call that link something else. I wanted to make some clever reference to another time when someone interrupted someone else while they were accepting an award for something. But I don't watch award shows. I don't care about awards for most things, and I instinctively mistrust the entire voting block concept which exists to dole these prizes out. Spike TV started a video game awards show, and I clocked out. Call me when there's a gala event to hand out prizes for most compelling homebrew campaign and best use of a fighter encounter power.
Those are Dungeons and Dragons references, intended to give you a firm grounding in my level of pop-culture integration.
I'll leave the key implications of Kanye's latest act (apparently this is a habitual thing for him?), professional and social, to E! and VH1 and, presumably, MTV (do they air programming that isn't some sort of reality program or something involving Puck?) (Apologies if Puck is dead.). I will, however, say this: As an erudite and articulate mulatto gentleman, it saddens me to see Kanye do this embarassing thing. I liked having a high-profile, articulate and entertaining hip-hop artist- someone who, at least at one point in his career, had the sensibility to apologize for discussing "money, hoes, and rims again". I wasn't taken in by Slow Jams or Through the Wire when they first dropped, but when I actually took the time to listen to the first album (courtesy of my much more plugged-in younger brother) I found a lot to love. I've consistently found Kanye's work more engaging and entertaining than nearly any other mainstream rapper- by which I mean no offense to the other artists I really enjoy and perhaps should consider mainstream. However, the album sales and publicity Kanye enjoys just don't seem to be available to Atmosphere, Astronautalis, Lupe Fiasco, Black Prez, Del the Funkee Homosapien, Hieroglyphics, or Aesop Rock. I could have continued waggling my indie cred but it was wearying to Google every name to ensure I was spelling it correctly- independent and alternative hip-hop loves to play with the organization of letters!
So Kanye was out there, and I felt like he was doing it for the thinkers, at least in some way. By contrast, I have almost zero personal stock in Taylor Swift. Despite being from Wyoming, I don't listen to a lot of country. I was impressed to learn that Taylor is actually from Wyomissing, and the puns therein write themselves. I do think the young woman has a deliciously vulpine cast to her face, which is a good thing- but I always felt guilty thinking that until about a month ago when I realized that Taylor is almost 20 years old, and thus it's not a sin to find her attractive. I watched a video she had posted on MySpace (about five minutes before the aforementioned revelation, note) and was entertained. And I realized (or decided, depending on how much you want to credit my opinions) that part of her popularity is sourced in her writing Emo music for young women. But that's it...compare the size of this paragraph to the preceding one.
All that said, shame on Kanye. I can't fall down on him as hard as the majority of internet pundits probably will, because I can sort of glimpse where he might possibly be coming from with the whole stunt. As a black entertainer operating at that high level of visibility, any time another black entertainer is passed over, especially an august member of the industry known for her own innovations, it probably rankles. Unfortunately, rushing a stage is never a solution. It didn't work for Gamecock and it doesn't work here. It only draws attention to the immaturity of the act, not the deep and intractable societal schisms and feelings of inequality which may or may not have spurred the act.
But what I think is the most unfortunate consequence of the show's events is that much, much more attention will be focused on Kanye's treatment of Taylor than Beyonce's grace and tact regarding the same.