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Today, details of Kanye West’s ‘latest outburst’ are being discussed by publications and individuals alike. The man is clearly unwell, but where’s our empathy for him?
Yesterday, Kanye West took to a stage in South Carolina, to continue his run to the White House. In the words of the ABC’s Paul Donoughue, “he spoke for an hour. He had no microphone. He wore a military-style vest and had “2020” shaved into the back of his head. West swore, argued with people, invoked God and made more false claims about slavery. He also broke down in tears at one point while describing how he was nearly aborted by his parents.”
Donoughue posed a question that many of us have ourselves asked, “he’s left voters even more befuddled over whether his 2020 presidential campaign is genuine or a publicity stunt to help sell albums or merchandise.”
Earlier today, we’ve had yet more details emerge, with West taking to Twitter, decrying the behaviour of his wife and mother-in-law, accusing them of trying to ‘lock him up’. Not to pick on the Donoughues of the world, but it isn’t a gimmick, Kayne West is fundamentally unwell, and he deserves empathy. However, history dictates that he won’t receive it.
In 2016, Kid Cudi earnestly charted his woe on Twitter and checked himself in for treatment. Read it; his honest appraisal of a man torn against himself is harsh, yet heartening, and the collective reaction it roused was that of a large warm hug. He was simultaneously praised for reducing the stigma of mental illness, while we all wished him well. However, the same could not be said for his close friend Kanye West, entered a hospital for his own similar mental health issues the same year.
Hating Kanye is du rigueur, and for his detractors, he makes that very easy – be calling out Harriet Tubman, his desire to run for President, or the way that Kanye lives his days. But the bigger issue here is the thousandfold articles about his mental health which start with the prefix “It’s a serious issue, and we should not joke about it”, before making jokes about it, as the comment boxes are filled with the worst of our impulsive judgements.
So, where’s the love for Kanye? Because he’s unwilling, or unable to honestly unpack his condition for us, we’re allowed to dismiss it? If that’s the case, that reveals far more about us than it does him. Using the Kid Cudi example, he openly discussed his problems through music that we could dance to, and one day checked himself in and let us know that he was okay. We could accept that, but not Kanye.
Why? Perhaps we see a lack of nobility in Kanye, making him somehow unworthy of our empathy. To be fair, he doesn’t make it easy, what with his rants, his left-field Tweets or in particular, his 2016 MTV speech where he zapped from self-promotion to bare honesty, daring to show the cracks, as perhaps he absolutely wanted to, before covering them with further self-promotion to protect himself – he made us watch both sides of his genius: the brand, and the damaged man who created it.
Perhaps, like our response to Kanye at the MTV awards, we recoiled at the truth that he is actually troubled, instead seeking out the easier route of pulling apart his empty self-serving truisms, ignoring the possibilities of help, or indeed our responsibility to try and see it from a perspective of someone we actively dislike, and perhaps, a life we also covet. How can he have problems, when we have problems?
We are all edges and shades of grey, and we are all more than what we show, and we all deserve help. Suffice to say, love to Kanye, get well soon.