The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday February 8th

Column: How do we get Kanye West to stop talking?

Kanye West looks on in the Oval Office of the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump on Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C. West's long list of business partners again face a choice: stick with him or finally cut ties with the music superstar.
Photo Courtesy of Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS.
Buy Photos Kanye West looks on in the Oval Office of the White House during a meeting with President Donald Trump on Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington, D.C. West's long list of business partners again face a choice: stick with him or finally cut ties with the music superstar. Photo Courtesy of Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS.

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Kanye West is making headlines again. 

Over the past few weeks, the rapper and designer has been throwing various tantrums in what can only be described as a cry for attention. Although I acknowledge that writing this only gives him what he wants, I am seriously wondering — how do we get Kanye West to stop talking? 

Back in September, West — now legally known as Ye — stoked the flames of his ongoing public feud with Adidas and Gap, who he claims have been stealing his ideas and leaving him out of meetings despite their business partnership through the Yeezy brand. Coming to his aid was fellow name-changer Sean Love 'Diddy' Combs and music producer Swizz Beatz, who both expressed their disappointment with West's treatment. 

One could speculate why any company would want to keep West on a short leash, seeing what happened next. 

A surprise Yeezy show during Paris Fashion Week included T-shirts with the phrase “White Lives Matter,” worn by West, models and right-wing commentator Candace Owens, who was a guest at the show. The phrase has been understood as a white supremacist response to Black Lives Matter. Although I’m unsure how West thought his message would land, he did not take criticism of the shirts well. 

West publicly bullied Vogue fashion editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, a Black woman who attended the show and called West's shirts “incredibly irresponsible and dangerous.” Soon after, he turned on Combs, a previous ally, after he also shared his disapproval.  

To top it off, West posted a series of anti-Semitic tweets out of anger toward Mark Zuckerberg after his Instagram account was restricted for his posts. Twitter later deleted one of West’s tweets — that expressed his desire to figuratively go to war with Jewish people — and locked his account, closing out his ability to harass anyone else on the timeline. 

Following his banishment from social media, West took his talents to Fox News, where he stood by his decision to include the shirts. Days after the interview, unaired footage was circulated online in which he made several comments on being vaccinated, Black people being the “real” Jewish race, Planned Parenthood and his preference for Hanukkah over Kwanza – though I’m unsure if the latter was meant as a compliment. 

He also uploaded a documentary to YouTube that included clips from a business meeting with Adidas, in which he seemed to be showing company executives pornography. 

Regardless of the circumstance, Kanye is infamous for voicing his strong — and often wrong — opinions. 

In 2005, he said former President George Bush didn’t care about Black people, a comment ad-libbed during a televised program for Hurricane Katrina relief. That should have alerted us to his unfiltered nature, but it instead became a part of his public personality. 

Since then, his antics have only escalated, ignoring the lesson we’re all taught as children: That there’s a time and a place for everything. In recent years, his actions have only become more egotistical, political and religious in nature – a combination that makes him all the more dangerous and interesting to all of us. 

In 2018, West shared that he was bipolar, making any discussion of his actions more complicated. Elements of the disorder include mania and depression and could explain some of his behavior – grieving for his mother and his recently failed marriage on his latest album one minute, running for president or opening a private school the next. 

His mental health does not absolve West of his offensive and reckless decisions, but it does grant him compassion from onlookers. So how can we make his provocations less potent? 

One solution may be deplatforming him. Revoking his access to social media strips him of a stage from which he can spew insults or harass people. Donald Trump was given the same treatment after his pattern of spreading misinformation on Twitter. Although this wouldn’t render him mute, it definitely puts him at a lower volume temporarily. 

West recently announced his intentions to purchase Parler, a right-wing social media platform that has previously been banned from the app stores of Apple, Google and Amazon. The terms of the deal have not been publicly disclosed, but it's set to close by the end of the year. Through Parler, West would never face banishment from social media entirely — though his control would only go as far as that platform. 

Another approach is reprimanding him. Despite covering the Yeezy show (a post still active on their website as of Oct. 17), Vogue took to Instagram to support Karefa-Johnson, admonishing West’s behavior as “unacceptable.” Given that the incident started with someone disagreeing with him, however, I’m not confident that reprimands will work. 

I suggest that we gently ignore him – fans, media personnel and haters alike. No long rants about his antics. No lengthy interviews where he can defend himself. And no taking him seriously, giving money or support to the circus. 

This is not a call to cancel him – he’s obviously un-cancelable. 

We should instead remain sympathetic to Kanye as he navigates being a businessman, father, fashion designer, producer or whatever this next stage of his life brings. We should acknowledge that what we're witnessing may be a mental health episode that needs to be approached with care. We shouldn’t feign shock at whatever comes next — he is clearly interested in pushing the envelope and seeing how close to the line we will accept. 

Until we can figure out how to get him to save his rants for the privacy of his own home or personal journal like the rest of us, we’ll have to sit back and wait for his next performance. Knowing him, it won’t be long before he finds a way to get the world’s attention again.


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