Lemme cut to the chase, Kanye West is phony as was his contrived outburst when he rushed the stage to disrupt an acceptance speech from country singer Taylor Swift, during last night’s MTV Video Music Awards. It was a perfectly executed stunt which was designed to make national headlines (which it did). It was designed to become among the top trending topics in twitter and one of the hot key words in google (which it is). It was obviously designed to take away attention from issues at hand as Kanye’s outburst overshadowed many of the performances and presenters including the Michael Jackson tribute.
Like it or not in 2009, notoriety works and unchecked disruptions, outbursts and controversial statements and gestures are the order of the day especially if you need to do a little bit of ‘social engineering’. Kanye rushing the stage at the VMAs was no different than the idiot congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson calling President Obama a liar during his speech the other night. It was no different then last month’s so called ‘spontaneous’ shouting matches and YouTube ready disruptions during Democratic sponsored healthcare townhall meetings around the country.
The end results are all the same. People are still talking about Joe Wilson and more importantly his opposition to Obama’s Healthcare plans. It created a huge windfall of donations to the tune of 1 million dollars for his re-election campaign. Lastly, this once obscure congressman is now a national figure and a household name who is seen as a hero in many circles. His notoriety and 15 minutes of fame has gotten him a platform to voice his espouse his opinions and political philosophy.
The disruptions during the healthcare townhalls were obvious game changers. First, it put the Democrats on the defense and allowed a vastly outnumbered Republican party that was in disarray to gain momentum and popularity. It also emboldened a number of people including staunch racists who were frustrated and angry to let loose and grab a seat at the proverbial table.
In the case of Kanye West, people are obviously talking about him and inevitably whatever projects he’s pushing. In a crumbling music industry where personality and branding is whats being sold more than music, the attention Kanye received is extremely valuable. The free publicity is worth millions.
But all this is just part of the story in terms of who benefits. Whether we’re talking about Joe Wilson or Kanye West, they are small cogs on the totem pole. There are larger and more powerful beneficiaries. It could be Health Insurance, leadership in the GOP, Kanye’s record label and MTV/Viacom. The 64 thousand dollar question is what hand did these larger institutions have in these controversies.
Did GOP leaders plan to have Wilson act out during the president’s speech as a strategy to take some shine away and minimize Obama’s persuasive oratory skills? To me, its more than obvious they did. No one seems to be to upset with Wilson. Thus far I’m not hearing about Wilson being removed from any committees. He already said he’s not gonna apologize a second time and it’s not like President Obama is gonna run up and punch him in the face for being disrespectful. In short there’s been no penalty for Wilson breaking the rules as his party has pretty much circled the wagons around him. Wilson and his GOP buddies are relishing in the fact that they were able to reaffirm and in many ways re-established their position as scrappy fighters who are down for the cause of the blue collar man compared to the ‘whimpy’ Democrat.
In the case of the townhall disruptions, we already know that many of these ‘grassroots’ , ‘spontaneous’ gatherings were actually orchestrated and seeded by lobbyists and corporations with the main groups being Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Expensive PR firms were hired and a strategy was developed instructing people how to systematically disrupt townhalls. This included, spreading out amongst the crowd to give the appearance as being larger in numbers, rattling the sensibilities of a congressperson early on by shouting and aggressively challenging him/her and just generally being disruptive so that what got reported on the evening news was people shouting down the congressperson and not the finer points of healthcare.
Anyone who has ever done commercial radio and been in a ratings war, much of these ‘political’ disruptions are text book. Early on we learned the important lesson of controversy sells. We’ve learned the importance of staging ‘spontaneous’ activities including cheering, hissing and booing in such away that the people around you would catch on and join in. ‘That’s all classic social engineering tactics. We learned how to show up at our competitions events and concerts, give up t-shirts, bumper stickers and signs and create the illusions that we were somehow apart of what was deemed exclusively theirs.
This brings us full circle back to Kanye West rushing the stage. because we’ve been inundated with crass disruptive behavior at political events, many of us forgot that this is a hallmark of the music industry. Creating illusions and smoke and mirrors is what we specialize in. Was Kanye’s antics sanctioned and planned by executives at MTV? LOL, last night’s Kanye moment was about as real as the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction several years ago. It was about as real and unscripted as an episode of MTV’s Real World. or even better last night’s Kanye outburst was about as real as the battle for record sales between him and 50 cent two years ago.
This should be more than obvious. By the end of the show MTV had a graph in place to show how Kanye’s disruption was the thing everyone was talking about on twitter? Plus, is Kanye being banned from any radio play? No. Will he be back at the next MTV event or is he banned for life? Hell naw. Will MTV keep showing the clip of Kanye rushing the stage? Hell yeah. This is not the first time he’s acted a fool at these type of events and he’s always invited back. Kanye is playing the role of the late Ole Dirty Bastard who was known for having a number of spontaneous outbursts including rushing the stage during the Grammys, that became seared in our collective memories over the years.
Me personally, I knew Kanye was phony balony when he rushed the stage and proclaimed Beyonce should’ve won without being nervous. That was the scripted Kanye we saw last night. The unscripted Kanye was the one we saw during the Katrina telethon when he said George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. But lets not digress.
Look the bottomline is everyone was in on it. Hell I’m beginning to even think Taylor Swift and Beyonce went along for the ride and had scripted out roles with Beyonce being the gracious sheroe and Smith being the poor victim we all rallied around. No matter the case, scripted or not it all seems to have worked out. Remember this is the same MTV who just a few months ago had us all looking on in shock as Eminem shed his bad boy image to go along with promotional stunt concocted by actor Sacha Barron Cohen dressed in character as Bruno. People were led to believe that Cohen ‘had an accident with his stunt cables and somehow landed in such a way that his ass and nutsack was in Em’s face as he attempted to untangle himself. An enraged Eminem stormed out the building only to have it later revealed it was a stunt he was in on and even rehearsed it.
I guess the bigger and more somber picture to all this is how we are constantly being manipulated. It may start somewhat harmlessly with Kanye West-like stunts at MTV but then it leads up to ‘staged’ outburst by ’upset’ lawmakers during a Presidential speech. All of it corporate sponsored and all of this is part of a larger pattern to dumb down the masses and keep a population ill-informed. In the business we call it learned behavior and it allows for people to be easily duped and eventually pimped.
Something to ponder