On Sept. 16, Kanye West tweeted a video of himself urinating on a Grammy Award. As of Sept. 22, the tweet has over 47.8 thousand comments, 295.6 thousand retweets, 769.1 thousand favorites, and 28.6 million views. Unsurprisingly, the odd post received a staggering amount of exposure, likely due to West’s high celebrity status and 31 million Twitter followers.
Kanye West overall has had quite the interesting 2020, especially within American politics. In July, West held his first presidential campaign rally, describing his potential policies if he was elected in the 2020 election. Unfortunately for West, video clips of the rally gained negative attention due to Kanye’s sporadic and nonsensical policy “proposals.” “Maximum increase would be everybody that has a baby gets a million dollars,” West said in the video, “Kanye West makes chaotic presidential rally debut in South Carolina,” posted by The Guardian on Youtube.
Other notable moments include sobbing while describing how he almost aborted his daughter, and frankly stating that, “Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves.” I felt as if I was watching a parody of a political rally rather than someone attempting to become president. Perhaps, it’s the result of a known showman joining important political discourse without formal experience in politics.
So why do we see West constantly in the news for bizarre actions? Kanye West was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017, according to NBC News. This diagnosis, along with the death of West’s mother Donda in 2007, are certainly tied to why West’s career includes numerous outlandish incidents. Personally, I see all of this amplified by West’s massive following and critical success.
Despite what they say, celebrities are not “just like us.” Celebrities make immense livings off of their personas and products, with some being very selective of what portion of their lives is public. For example, Beyoncé stopped doing face-to-face interviews mid-2010’s, according to The New York Times. “She has to be studying how effective her interviews have been so far. She may have decided that they do not contribute as dazzlingly to the portrait of Beyoncé as the other stuff,” Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson said.
Both sides of the public image spectrum display why celebrities are potentially unsynced from their fans. In fact, some become annoyed when celebrities attempt to be “just like us.” Back in March, a video was released of celebrities singing “Imagine” by John Lennon, attempting to bring unity during the Covid crisis. I, along with others on social media, was annoyed that people such as Gal Gadot, with a net worth of $20 million according to the website Celebrity Net Worth, are implying they’re struggling similarly to the people barely paying their bills during a worldwide pandemic.
This concept is also why I struggle to understand the confusion behind many celebrity controversies. Nearly every week, we find out a different notable figure committed some reprehensible act. Why wouldn’t someone with excess influence and funds eventually feel above the law and/or abuse their power? If anything, it’s a reminder that you can idolize one’s work while understanding you don’t fully know the person behind it.
Returning to West, we’ll likely see more public antics from the rap superstar soon enough. After all, when a tweet of a trophy in a toilet receives 28.6 million views, why wouldn’t someone keep creating such strange posts for the sake of publicity? I do at least hope West receives some professional support, as fame and mental illness must be a sickening combination for one’s mental state. As a film fan, it would also be unreasonable to say don’t support celebrities. Just be mindful that while they are people, they’re people living in a much different reality than most. In other words, don’t idolize someone who’s living relies solely on being a “role model” to a majority of the planet.