16 September 2009

What's With Kanye?

Dorothy Parker once said something to the effect that the problem with democracy is that in it, a practical joke can be elected.

I wonder what she would say about a joke that makes the rounds on the Internet and seems even more plausible than an actual news item.

Today someone sent me an e-mail that, it seems, all of my students and half of the people I see every day have also received. It goes something like this:

Kanye West interrupted Patrick Swayze's funeral and announced that Michael Jackson's was better.

What is it with Kanye? First he tries to live like a gangsta. Then he has a near-death experience in a car crash and gets religion. Then, I must say, he made some really good--or at least conscious--music. And now this? It's like he's copping a gangsta attitude again. But this time, he's fooling no-one.

More precisely, he's not convincing at being famous for being famous. He--thankfully!--won't be a male hip-hop version of Madonna, or even Michael Jackson. But I hope that he doesn't share another part of their fate: Becoming a cariacture of one's self and having one's best work more than twenty years in the past. Of course, Kanye isn't yet old enough for the latter. But it could happen, and I think he will seem even more like a parody than MJ or Madonna, simply because he's not the entertainer either of them is or was. I mean, at least for a time, it was fun to see Madonna being, well, Madonna and Jacko being a kind of Peter Pan. I simply can't imagine what makes, or could make, Kanye similarly compelling, apart from his music--or at least what he was doing about four or five years ago.

Now I'm really glad I never bought those Kanye West pills!