The Kanye West saga: Why I’m hooked on watching the artist self-destruct, one stunt at a time

By Marnie Duke

Published Nov 1, 2022 at 11:00 AM

Reading time: 4 minutes

There’s no doubt that Kanye “Ye” West is an extraordinary and compelling individual—heck, two years ago, he ran for President of the United States. I didn’t take it seriously at the time, of course. For most of us, it was all a big joke. A ridiculous stunt by an attention-seeking celebrity that was supported by the likes of billionaire Elon Musk.

However, in light of recent events, this seemingly ludicrous political escapade casts a stranger and potentially darker shadow.

West has become known publicly for his wild social media posts, often accompanied by captions written in capital letters only and lacking punctuation. Word vomit, if you will. Initially, the posts just seemed an extension of his eccentricity. My group chat would ping frenziedly as my friends and I followed the rapper’s erratic online musings. I would obsessively refresh the page to keep up with his outbursts which were often deleted minutes after they appeared.

Admittedly, as Ye’s posts became increasingly manic, I became more and more intrigued. It was like watching a gore video or a trashy reality TV show—the shock, the drama and the ridiculousness of his statements were gripping, and I followed with such rapture that it’s surprising I wasn’t shovelling down popcorn.

In the past, I had similarly ogled at so-called influencer Andrew Tate’s problematic posts, appalled yet transfixed by his misogynistic online orating. The absurdity was entertaining, to say the least. But that was it. To me, it was all just a fantasy. The comments were ridiculous and nonsensical. I didn’t take them seriously, but there are people out there who did.

On 9 October 2022, West tweeted that he was “going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.” DEFCON is an acronym that refers to the state of alert of America’s militaries. “Death con 3” appears to be a muddled use of that term. Adding to the long list of his other inflammatory remarks, the tweet showcased that the artist is clearly unstable—he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago. But until now, did I consider him dangerous, violent, and hateful? I don’t think so.

Many have dismissed his comments online in the last few weeks as the ramblings of a madman, while some even encouraged pity towards him. But West is no longer just an eccentric celeb with a superiority complex, his hateful words are emboldening people into violent physical action.

Following his anti-Semitic remarks, a banner reading “Kanye is right about the Jews” was hung over a Los Angeles motorway. The group behind the move was also photographed doing the Nazi salute. Briefly put, West is increasingly being used as a mascot for anti-Semitism. His comments were previously used to endorse a hate crime and are sure to result in a surge of similar incidents.

In response to this, the rapper’s Twitter and Instagram accounts were suspended. His comments also prompted calls for adidas—the sportswear company that collaborated with Ye on the highly influential brand Yeezy—to cut ties with him, in turn putting an abrupt end to the collaboration.

Days before the company announced the immediate end to the line, West, being the President-aspiring egomaniac that he is, claimed that adidas could not drop him, stating, “I can literally say anti-Semitic things and [they] can’t drop me. Now what?” In response to this, Balenciaga, Vogue, Creative Artists Agency and MRC all cut ties with him. Then came adidas. The Ye chronicles were spiralling into downright horror.

But the drama continued, and at this point, we were all choking on our imaginary popcorn. First, the rapper ended up getting kicked out of the Forbes billionaire’s list as his personal fortune supposedly plummeted from $2 billion to $400 million.

Then, as more celebrities and brands continued to condemn and dissociate from him online, Donda Academy—the sus Christian preparatory school that he only opened in September 2022—closed with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, a documentary recently filmed on the rapper is currently shelved and even his waxwork at Madame Tussauds London has been shunned from public view. No rest for the wicked, heh?

And yet, despite the world turning its back on West, it’s clear that he is not quite ready to take his final bow. Last week, he appeared on Piers Morgan Uncensored, where he gave a characteristically-bewildering-but-nonetheless-captivating interview that lasted for almost two hours in which he defended his slew of anti-Semitic remarks.

Just a few days later, he was escorted from the footwear company Skechers’ corporate offices in Los Angeles after turning up “unannounced and uninvited.” The rapper has since returned to Instagram in his typically chaotic style with a post that read: “I LOST 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN ONE DAY AND I’M STILL ALIVE.” No shit, Ye—you’re still technically a millionaire.

That being said, some die-hard fans of the artist have recently started a GoFundMe in a bid to make him a billionaire again. With the goal of raising $1 billion, the entire ordeal seems like one big joke on the platform.

On the other hand, a number of West’s past employees have anonymously reported that he had an “obsession” with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party, that he spoke openly about reading Mein Kampf and wanted to title his 2018 album in said leader’s name.

No one quite seems to know the ‘Hurricane’ artist’s next move—except, perhaps, a determination to stay in the headlines. And for that reason, the suspense is more heightened than ever.

But what is it that makes this tale so titillating? Though we might not like to admit it, watching others crash and burn is thrilling—the higher the pedestal, the more pleasing it is. And if ruin is compelling, then West’s topple from power has been positively spectacular.

The rapper—a modern-day deity worshipped by millions—is suffering a very public breakdown, but all we see is a billionaire falling from grace. As his behaviour gets worse, the story only gets better. The world delights in watching him self-destruct. For not long ago, the star had it all. And in just a couple of weeks, he has single-handedly destroyed everything.

For now, however, the problematic rapper’s future remains uncertain, but there’s one thing that I know for sure: the show’s not over just yet and I’m on the edge of my seat.

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