Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009

Time to Lay Off Kanye West

By Evan Rytlewski
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It's an indignity I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy: Sitting on prime time television, head hung, while Jay Leno, so drunk off his good fortune that he can barely contain his smirk, shames you by evoking your recently deceased mother and asking, What do you think she would have said about this?" Kanye West appeared shell shocked, on the brink of tears.

Enough is enough. Kanye West is not Michael Vick. He did not shout down a sitting president on the floor of Congress. He did not cheat on Elizabeth Hurley with a prostitute.

But for one ridiculous news cycle, his was the greatest crime in the nation: He briefly interupted country singer Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards. Outrage ensued.

Of course, West should have understood how bad he'd appear in this debaclethe arrogant, big, bad rapper stealing the stage from pop music's snow white, pretty princess. The following day, nobody stood by his side. Celebrities lined up to denounce him. Even Kelly Clarkson rubbed his face in it.

West's painful "Jay Leno Show" mea culpa should put to rest any doubts over whether his remorse was genuine, so it's time to cut the guy some slack. Like it or not, he's an entertainer, and storming the stage at meaningless award shows is part of his acthe's a bit like rap music's Sacha Baron Cohen in that respect. West has pulled this routine many times before, and in the past has been rewarded for it with encouraging press coverage. No doubt award-show producers also encourage these antics, hoping for the resulting ratings and buzz. But Sunday night West recycled the routine and it wasn't funny anymore; he'd chosen the wrong target. It happens.

So who looks petty here: The entertainer whose bit fell flat, or the entire nation that wallows in his humiliation?




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