Let’s Have A Toast to the Assholes: Leave Kanye Alone….No Really

Google the search terms Kanye West + Asshole, and as you might imagine; you will get a surplus of returns.  Kanye’s manic form of genius combined with a decidedly lax brain to mouth filter has resulted in his name becoming almost synonymous with the insult in certain circles—amongst Taylor Swift fans for instance.

With the recent brouhaha over the Matt Lauer interview and Bush’s claim that West’s infamous black people gaff was the worst moment of  his presidency (apparently worst than Katrina itself, the domestic economic meltdown, Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Valerie Plame, Harriet Miers….I’ll stop in the interest of time), Kanye is back in the headlines again.  And the coverage ain’t good.

Lauer’s interview with West was at best poor journalism and at worst an intentional attempt to create another Kanye moment.  You know Kanye moments: insulting the Commander and Chief by implying he was a racist, interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV movie awards, as well a series of rants, interruptions, politically incorrect pop-offs, tantrums and most recently rogue tweets.  Yet it’s these moments combined with leveraging the most creative musical brain in hip-hop to make hit after consecutive hit that makes Kanye both genius and walking spectacle.

He  has been called the villain,the asshole, the jerk, the douche bag but he is more accurately described as a man in progress.  He occasionally back slides but this understandable for someone burden by an ego the size of the twitterverse. He is admittedly self-conscience and evidently a driven perfectionist—who really does love his art.  Over the years, Kanye has had a series of personal dramas play-out within the pages tabloids and on gossip blogs.  Despite a life threatening car accident, the untimely and tragic loss of his mother, and a series of public break-ups, he has continued to be a prolific and evolving artist.  I believe this is because he is driven first by a desire to create and is more conflicted and quite frankly limited in his ability to manage the fame.

Kanye is  the modern Andy Warhol.  Both aesthetically driven workaholics bound by an excess of personality, they have in common a vision to achieve wealth through their art  and an unfettered desire to see their dreams manifest. In another time, Kanye might be considered colorful or brash.  However, with a 24-hour news cycle largely padded by entertainment news, he provides the  perfect patsy for a world dominated by far less ingenious and productive assholes.  So I’m saying: leave Kanye alone.

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Kanye.  Okay its more than a soft spot.  I date him in my mind and we are in love, but in the interest of a neutral analysis I have put that aside.  Instead I have tried to speak to the madness at the heart of his genius or the genius at the heart of his madness—depending on where you stand.  Suffice it to say whether you love him or hate him, everyone has an opinion of Kanye.

If  Kanye is anything, he is unapologetic.  He is unapologetically Black, unapologetically brilliant, unapologetically flawed, and unapologetically wealthy. “Wake Up Mr. West”, said the late great Bernie Mac in the opening of the Kanye’s classic Late Registration album and I do mean; recall Touch the Sky, Gold Digger, Diamonds From Sierra Leone. Wake up indeed and recently Kanye has woken up.  Sure he is still brash, cocky, fashionable, and manic; yet he has managed to temper his special brand of swagga-dopeness with a swig of humble juice.  He kind of apologized to the president, though he did refuse to perform on the Today show plaza in a return visit.  With an album on the way perhaps this wasn’t the most expedient choice from marketing stand point, but it was aligned to his convictions and you cannot be mad at that.

Wherever you stand, you have to respect Kanye for his what he is doing with music.  I appreciate and salute him for his authenticity even in his most ungraceful moments. My only hope is that the tedium of fame that he both craves and despises does not stifle his creativity or leave him jaded .  I want Kanye to be his irrepressible self.  Hollywood is so celluloid that it is nice to see someone so completely themselves.  Suffice it to say: Kanye I love you—flaws and all.

Chastity Chic: Can Celebs Like Lady Gaga Make Celibacy Cool?

The word of the day is CELIBACY.  Yes kids; you heard me correct: CELIBACY.  From Lady Gaga’s  recent promulgation on the benefits of chaste living to public demands to free Catholic priests from the ties that bind, celibacy is becoming an increasingly  important component of this cultural moment.  So  let’s talk about not having sex, those opting out and those that may want to think about opting in.

This week both CNN.com and the Washingtonpost.com are featuring stories about celebs abstaining from sex.  In addition to Lady Gaga, celebs who have gone on the record about their chaste lifestyles include: Adriana Lima, Lenny Kravitz, Jordin Sparks, and Miley Cyrus.   Gaga’s celibacy contradicts her sexualized image and lyrics.  Her music video for the hit dance single Telephone  features a full frontal crotch shot; a move that does not exactly inspire modesty. Gaga, who is Catholic, often invokes Madonna in her styling and image, an artist who wrote the book on “Sex“.  Ironically, early in her career Madonna riled the Vatican faithful; her erotic videos were laden with symbols of her Catholic childhood.  I wonder if Lady Gaga’s pledge of celibacy will result in a Papal endorsement:

It’s OK to be whomever it is that you want to be,” she said. “You don’t have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you’re not ready, don’t do it.

Celibacy’s place in the modern Catholic church is also under scrutiny. as the massive domestic and international sex scandals dominate recent headlines.  Many critics suggests that celibacy within the priesthood has led to this institutional problem of child sex abuse.  However, research as shown sexual abuse rates in the Catholic Church is not higher than in society, other public institutions and other religious denominations.   However, one must wonder if the vows of celibacy have a place in the modern world?  The more progressive Episcopal church allows priest to marry and have recently allowed gay clergy to serve in the memory.  Is such an approach more aligned to this cultural moment? 

Whether pledging purity out of religious, moral, health, or any number of motivations, I hope abstaining finds a place in the world of gratuitous sexual exploitation.  Perhaps Gaga’s advice may save a few more teenage girls from starring appearances on MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant.

So what do you think?  Is abstinence the new sex?  Does celibacy sell?

Girls Behaving Badly – Blogging the Bad Girls Reunion

There is nothing remotely socially redeeming about Oxygen’s The Bad Girls Club.  It is trashy reality T.V. at its finest.  If it were the Real World, the housemates opening narration might state: 

This is the true story of seven, no six, perhaps five, no four… self-proclaimed bitches…picked to fight in a house…party and drink together…make out with each other….and have their lives taped and poorly edited…to find out what happens…when a network manipulates a group of young egomaniacs with a variety of mental, emotional, and social disorders and no moral compasses ….into moving in to a huge tacky white mansion…. to see what happens…when said bitches stop being accountable, responsible, or reasonable and start getting exploited…THE BAD GIRLS CLUB, LA

Perez Hilton is hosting the two-part reunion special which will reunite: Portia, Florina, Natalie , Kate, Kendra, Amber, Annie, and Lexie.  The season has been filled with cat fights, blackouts, bleeps and blur-outs, eating disorders, bad bikini bodies, binge drinking, hangovers, sucker punches, random hook-ups, D-List celebrity cameos, racism, manipulation, and above all screaming.  Seriously, this show should be sponsored by Motrin for Migraines.

Thus far, the reunion is pretty much standard reality reunion show fare.   Hilton recaps the season showing highlights or low points of the past season.  His hosting—not unlike his blogging style—is snarky and even downright mean.  He tells casts member Kate that she is prettier on T.V., going on to state that he found her to be ugly on the show.  In this hello pot this is kettle moment,  he equates sleepy eyed Kate to an uglier Ashley Tisdale.  Hmm.

The promoted fireworks began as controversial cast member Natalie Nunn  sashays the catwalk to the set, attempting a one woman coup d’état of the broadcast.  She assaults Kate spitting in her face; basically showing herself to be  a common trash box, without an ounce of class or dignity. 

Little Miss Natalie’s egomania is epic.  Her name was all over the blogosphere prior to the season premier of  this seasons show.  Gossips sites had her hooking up and/or partying with Chris Brown.  In his post Rihanna haze, he might have mistaken her for a potential boo-thang, but I highly doubt it.  Yet, jump-off status is not out of consideration.  Her mantra being “I Run L.A.”, Natalie’s other claims to fame include hooking up with a member of the Celtics warm-up squad, befriending Moesha’s little brother, and getting her full-sewn in removed on national T.V.—quite the resume. 

Natalie got her kicks this seasons strong arming, beating up, and otherwise intimidating her roommates—nay Portia who at ninety pounds soaking wet kicked Natalie’s ass and was promptly booted from the house. Natalie then took the immature, sheltered, and apparently hot in the draws Kendra under her tutelage, whose getwit proclivities made her the perfect target for Natalie’s manipulation. 

Star struck, fame hungry, cute faced, and laced with a new weave, Kendra did manage to accomplish something her sensei has not thus far, landing new reality TV gig.  She landed a starring role on the new Oxygen series Bad Girls Clubs: Love Games.  In a classic case of student teaching the master, the Charlotte N.C. native is clearly looking to make her mark on L.A.  Who runs L.A. now Natalie? [Clearly Antonio Villaraigosa and not Kendra, but hey it was fun to say).  Nevertheless, BET is reporting that a reality show staring Ms.  Natalie Nunn  may be in the works.  I for one am waiting with bated breath for this one.  Perhaps, Olamide might get in on the fun.

The reunion show quickly devolved into more contrived cat fights, as “the claws came out”.  The girls continue to belittle, berate, and bash each other for a full hour.  I guess one remotely positive moment was when cast member Amber shared in a sincere and heartfelt moment her joy in the fact that she was several weeks pregnant.  Of course this news can only be welcomed as positive, if you think any of these women possess the maturity and wisdom to parent a productive member of society.  What’s more, she did not help her ongoing case to not be considered trailer trash, when lifting her billowy empire dress to her navel at Hilton’s request to see her pregnant belly.  One word: tacky.

I’ve been wanting to blog about this show all season.  It prevails upon me a profound sense of disgusts in so many ways, but simultaneously I find its train wreck aesthetic absolutely intriguing.  By a certain age most women have had our sloppy drunk, bad hook up, cat fight, flying off the hinges moments.  Yet, the mentality of an individual who would  exhibit this behavior in exponential proportion, while on national TV is beyond me.  No doubt they must see this kind of exposure as a catalyst for fortune and fame.  Yet, I wonder how Florina will explain her psycho tantrums to future employers.  Sure Natalie plans to marry money, but her dating pool may be shrinking after any decent man gets a whiff of her on air debauchery.  Similarly, Annie showed herself to be a neurotic weirdo, with poor social skills.  Boston native, Kate showed a propensity for either racism or stupidity, when suggesting she did not want to go to a sweaty Black club.  I’m still not clear if she had a problem with the black people or the sweat, but it’s neither here nor there at this point.  Employers may also have a problem with her getting the reach on poor Annie, with reality TV’s best/worst sucker punch, since Snooki got flambéed.  In a sensible and warranted move, Annie filed charges against Kate for punching her in the face without provocation or cause.  Despite Kendra’s illogical protest, Annie was right; actions do have consequences.  Accordingly, Lexie may, in fact, find it difficult to say get a security clearance, after spending much of her abbreviated season [Lexie replaced cast member Portia] nude.

When it said and done, I am sure these women will try to leverage there appearance on this show into opportunities to generate money.  Perhaps other reality shows, endorsement deals, and hosting gigs may be in their future, but the price they may pay for fame could be high.  Their visions short and consequences seemingly a non-issue, their poor choices seem like good clean fun today. Yet I can pretty guarantee that Natalie will never have the opportunity to “run L.A.”, not only because she is running herself into the ground with these antics, but her reputation is ruined.  People will negate the fact that she was a star athlete and good student at USC, a highly respected and venerable institution.  Yet, they will recall  her biting, clawing, spitting, and bloviating her way into the annals of reality TV history. 

So is the Bad Girls Club harmless fun or dangerous exploitation? Are the women agents of their own image creation or are they being manipulated for money-making corporate entities?  Does this hurt women’s relationships in the real world?  Can the damage to reputations be repaired or will video follow these young women forever?

Is it worth it?


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