Kanye, On Hiatus
Nothing makes people online happier than aggressively expressing displeasure at the words, behavior and action of others. That is particularly true of this white-hot moment in our culture. We’re so overwhelmingly filled with disgust and outrage at the misdeeds of horrible men that we’re bending and contorting the language to express the intensity and nature of our disdain and our disillusionment.
For example, I’ve been reading the phrase “cancelled” an awful lot as of late. In these days of the Great Reckoning, of #Metoo and the Weinstein Effect “cancelled” has taken on a much different connotation. In this new context, “cancelled” often refers not to television programs or comic books or online features about failed movies that get killed for not being popular enough to continue but rather to previously beloved entertainers or politicians or public figures who behave in such an egregiously terrible fashion that their fans decide that they cannot support them anymore from a moral perspective.
It does not seem to take much to get cancelled in this newfangled fashion. Somebody said something shitty in an interview? Fuck the guy. He’s cancelled. Somebody close to that dude did not repudiate the shitty things that first guy said strongly enough? Fuck him. He’s cancelled too. Somebody is friends with a prominent right-wing writer and has defended them publicly? Fuck them both and hello cancellation!
Of course it’s easier to be officially, dramatically and publicly finished with someone if you were never that into them in the first place. I don’t, for example, have to “cancel” Tim Allen for his right-wing political beliefs because, while I love me some Toy Story and Galaxy Quest, otherwise Allen does nothing for me.
Oftentimes, however, hatred and disillusionment are the flip side of feverish devotion, but even then time has a way of cooling down with time. I did not go from loving Johnny Depp and seeking out his work to viewing him with disdain as a sad alcoholic who (reportedly) hits women and crew people and makes terrible, unwatchable movies overnight. No, there was a long, sad, drawn out process of disillusionment and decline that made it very, very easy to avoid watching Depp’s new movies or supporting him in any tangible way.
On a similar note, my sadness over the unfortunate turn Morrissey and Kanye West have both taken politically is directly proportionate to the outsized love and passion I had for them and their music at various points in my life. I know I’m not alone in that.
The eternally insightful Demi Adejuyigbe said something about Kanye on his podcast Punch Up the Jam that I found insightful and empathetic. He said that for him, Kanye wasn’t cancelled so much as he was “on hiatus.” That struck me as a wonderful, kind way to look at the situation. Because, at its core, “cancellation”, while often necessary and deserved, can be punitive and negative, final and unyielding.
“On hiatus”, in sharp contrast, holds out hope that #problematic figures that broke our heart, individually and collectively, by doing things like gushing about how cool Donald Trump is are capable of change and growth, that they can learn from their mistakes and evolve into better, kinder, more enlightened people who use their enormous power and influence for good rather than evil.
I really want to still believe this Trump business is still a phase for Kanye but I don’t have anywhere near as much faith in human nature as I used to. So I suppose you could say that for me Kanye is on hiatus as well. I’m still rooting for the man, but this time I’m rooting for him to change and evolve and see the error of his ways. Because I would love to welcome him back, to take him off hiatus, but needless to say, some things are going to have to change before that can happen, and a lot of them have to do with the buffoon in the White House’s and Kanye’s deplorable, if not quite unforgivable, words of support for him.
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