September 15, 2009

Kanye West gets rewarded for his oafishness with an appearance on the new Jay Leno show.

Let's watch his effort at winning back our affection:



I "live-blog" the clip:

0:35: The numbskull audience cheer like hell as if he hadn't just done something offensive... either because hey, he's a celebrity and they came to see celebrities and bask in their shining light or because some damned cheer like hell sign lit up.

0:53: Leno butters him up disgustingly, telling him how brave he is to come on the show in his time of tribulation.

1:15: West feels so bad because "I only wanted to help people, you know. My entire life, I've only wanted to give and do something that I felt was right."

1:47: Although West just said "I immediately knew in this situation that it was wrong," Leno gets all jazzed up by what he thinks is the probing question "So when did you know it was wrong?" I assume the conversation was planned, and West put one of his lines too early in the dialogue, and Robot Leno didn't even notice. Lameness.

2:01: West now says — with dull, flat affect — that he knew it was wrong when he gave the microphone back to "her" — say her name, idiot — and she didn't keep going. The audience laughs at this "joke," and Leno awkwardly progresses to the next (planned) question, which is, paraphrasing: What would your dead mother say?

2:42: West tries to show his hurt, giving us the cue remember that his mother died and to realize that it is terribly sad when one's mother dies. He asserts the theory that his hurt led to another person's hurt, as if his macho seizing of the mike from a teenager and outraged touting of his preferred pop star (Beyoncé) came from a place of grief over his mother's death. Feel sorry for meeeeeeee. Bleh.

3:05: West vows to improve so he can "make it through this life." Okay, he has groveled enough. Leno calls an end to what I assume is a planned, mapped-out PR routine. And the audience cheers inanely, on cue, once again.

56 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

another good reason not to watch NBC

AprilApple said...

I think it's funny that it leaked out that Obama thinks Kanye is a jackass.


Hollywood nation.

kengoodsmith said...

I had the same reaction. Excusing his behavior by tying it to his mother's death was beyond the pale.

paul a'barge said...

What's NBC?

AprilApple said...

*Posted comment before reading other thread below.

Meade said...

He could've at least tried the I'd-been-drinking excuse.

Of course, that would not be an excuse, but at least it would've been real.

Shanna said...

I loved how he seems to think all this came about because he needs a nap or something. “I’m just working too hard, I haven’t taken a break, etc…” Whatever. I didn’t realize that Leno stuff was on now. Wonder what the ratings are.

Shanna said...

another good reason not to watch NBC

But make an exception for Chuck because it's awesome.

Richard Dolan said...

Leno comes across as the proverbial 'old man in a dry month/Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. ... A dull head among windy spaces.' The rain, in this case, being supplied by the audience.

Unwatchable.

SteveR said...

It is often said that our celebrity oriented culture is indicative of the decline of our civilization (or words to that effect) and I generally think that's an overblown concern.

This circus, over the course of a couple days, does cause me to wonder.

MayBee said...

He reminded me in a way of Randy "The Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler.

Completely able to feel sorry for the mistakes he's made regarding other people, completely unable to keep himself from making them.

Meade said...

Except for the groveling part, the "feel sorry for me" part, and the making the apology to someone other than the person he actually hurt part, I think he probably got 3 of the 6 elements right.

How To Apologize To a Woman

There are six elements of a proper apology.

1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act
2. Acknowledge that You Have Hurt her Feelings.
3. Express Your Remorse
4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat
5. Offer to Make Amends
6. Seek Forgiveness

Comrade X said...

Kanye was trying to brown-nose Jay Z at the VMA. weak shit.

Rialby said...

It's weird to see Leno without a desk. It's almost like he's trying to recreate the Arsenio Hall show which I loved when I was 12 but no realize was truly awful.

Bissage said...

Nice try on their part, but my advice to Ms. Swift would be not to call it even until Mr. West submits to three strokes from a bamboo rod administered on the courthouse steps.

If he was sincere, he would offer.

Treacle said...

what reward? kanye's appearance on leno was confirmed a long time ago. it's like me taking my kid on a trip to disney after he's been bad. if the trip is planned, we're still going.

Big Mike said...

It doesn't help Kanye that the picture many (most? all?) papers are running with makes it look as though he is ripping Taylor Swift's dress off and not merely ripping the mike out of her hands.

Anything to sell a couple papers.

Beth said...

"Oafishness" - perfect description.

Leno is such a suck-up. I don't understand why he still has an audience.

William said...

There are many opinion makers who are willing to examine the latent racism of those who are too vocal in their disapproval of Obama. Such people will never, ever consider whether race played a part in Kanye's action.....In days gone by, scholars and the respectable went to ridiculous lengths to censor their sexual feelings. It never really worked, but the hairshirts made such people feel pure and superior......I think there is such a thing as racism and that it influences how we see the world. I think people who say Serena Williams should be banned from tennis are off the deep end and that race is playing its part in their opinion. Racism, sadly, is not a strictly caucasian thing. But when black people go off the tracks, as Kanye did, there is no informed opinon among black people to examine and condemn the root causes of his jerkiness....Where are the black intellectuals who wonder how it was that Van Jones came to arrive at such a strange menagerie of ideas?....I don't know if blacks are more bigoted than whites, but I do think that they are more tolerant of the bigots in the midst.

Chip Ahoy said...

Treacle, really? Once our trip to Disney World was cancelled because we were acting up in the car on the way to Florida.

Boy, did that ever teach us how mean dear Ol' Dad was, I mean, not to act up in the car.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I won't know what to think about this matter until Maureen Dowd tells me that it's racist for a black man to seek forgiveness on a white man's television program.

Tibore said...

Ahhh, the spectacle of the unrestrained id attempting to acknowledge there is in fact something called proper social conduct. How about we just do the normal social thing and subject him to shame on a one-to-one basis, instead of this "apologize in front of the camera" process? The camera doesn't emote displeasure.

No, I'm not being sarcastic or ironic. I'm serious. If we as non-celebrities would ever commit such a public social gaffe, would our catharsis involve a camera and interviewer, or would it involve making right with the public as well as the person directly affected? And which one would be more right and just?

Chris Althouse Cohen said...

The thing of blaming his bad behavior on his mother's death (which happened two years ago) reminds me of this. Speaking of which, I don't see Jennifer Hudson acting ridiculously.

Paul Zrimsek said...

How To Apologize To a Woman

1. Continually.

traditionalguy said...

Random Thoughts:The attention usually goes to the dominant person. Black Rap music is an exercise in domination of the weak by the powerful chant of the Rapper. West is a master at dominating people and places for attention. Women are his intended symbolic victims. In this case West touted Beyonce as the worthy Female Black he awards the victory over a weak white flower only singing from her protected world view. She doesn't even have a name in Wests world view. That conduct is what has always gotten his audience really excited and convinced that they do rule over the world. Leno's audience agrees. But this is news because it is exposing the domination tactic at the same time that President Obama's dominance of politics tactics are being called out and exposed for their weakness by a greater power that intends to protect people from such dominance. That greater power in this case happens to also be represented in a Woman. The powerful IMO Mr. West could never have pulled a stunt like this on Sarah Palin , and I doubt that Obama will beat her in 2012 either.

Original Mike said...

I'd never heard of Kayne West, and after watching the "musical" performance after his apology it's apparent to me why that's the case.

J Lee said...

First show for Leno in the new time-slot, so you can assume that most of the audience was made up of people with some sort of connections to NBC and/or Leno and his production company.

Which means the odds are that -- unlike your average tourist-filled studio audience -- Monday's crowd was predominantly from the L.A. area (or New York, if they've got an in with any of the NBC/GE execs there). So the crowd was likely to be more "hip" (i.e. -- liberal) than your average Leno audience, and even the "APPLAUSE" sign notwithstanding, were far less likely to do anything by shower Kayne with love, less they have to start worrying about their own morality (of course, if they had gotten Terry Moran's Twitter feed before the show saying Obama called Kayne a jackass, then maybe it would have been OK to treat West the way Philadelphia Eagles fans treated Santa Claus).

Father Martin Fox said...

I generally agree with the sentiments expressed; may I add:

> Some people really don't know how to behave properly at all. I don't know Kanye West at all, but he strikes me as someone who, despite making it big, and getting a lot of attention, has few manners.

> What he has--what loads of celebrities have--is a mega-dose of narcissism. Add to that the strange sort of relativistic mush-head "thinking" that is so perfectly expressed by so much of MTV: all that matters is to express feelings and "be real," whatever that means. "Right" and "wrong" are totally what you make of them in the moment.

> I still think Jay Leno is a good guy. This is just run-of-the-mill banality I expect from most talking heads on TV. What's impressive is when any of them rise above this.

> The one--no, two--bright moments in this whole thing were (1) the audience at the awards manifesting some moral compass and (2) Beyonce showing what class and decency look like. Pretty much everything else, including this, has played out according to type.

James said...

OK, so where's the Althouse post arguing that if Kanye should be apologizing for saying what he believed to be true, albeit in an inappropriate venue, then the entire crowd at the VMA's should apologize for cheering Swift and booing Kanye? After all, they ate away at her acceptance speech time too!

Ah wait, I think I get it now. Since the rude, idiotic outburst was not made in opposition to Obama, there is no need for Althouse to formulate an inane, nonsensical argument in defense of the jackass, nor for commentators to crown the jackass as a "folk hero" speaking the truth!!! It's all making sense now . . .

class-factotum said...

But when black people go off the tracks, as Kanye did, there is no informed opinion among black people to examine and condemn the root causes of his jerkiness...

Why should black people have to examine Kanye's behavior? It's not a black thing. It's a jerk thing. Jerks come in all colors.

wv=moidigg. Oui.

peter hoh said...

I watched it live. Or as "live" as it was when broadcast. I thought the "What would your mother think?" was a cutting question. It may have been rehearsed, and Kanye's response may have been staged, but the question stripped bare any pretense that there might have been any justification or explanation that would be satisfactory.

The mistake, of course, was letting him perform after the interview. Let him say his apology and then let him leave. Don't give him a mic.

Unless they were going to cut the power 20 seconds into his singing and then bring on a real singer.

Overall, I thought the Leno show sucked. Too much obsequiousness. Too many predictable jokes. For the love of television, I hope this experiment goes down.

Methadras said...

So glad I got rid of my GE stock a long time ago.

Michael said...

All Things Considered had a piece yesterday on how Leno's TV show had had all these great moments of edgy TV-- like Hugh Grant post-prostitute, or a drugged up Joaquin Phoenix, or whatever. And all I could think was how every one of them was basically something shameful I wouldn't want to let my kids see or really even touch without fireplace tongs. And not only does NBC apparently think this kind of freak show/trainwreck thing makes for great TV, but NPR, which is supposed to be something of the antidote to such trash, does too.

If those are Leno's high points, I can avoid his show in its entirety and miss nothing worth seeing.

Original Mike said...

So glad I got rid of my GE stock a long time ago.

Ditto.

William said...

Class factotum: Re your 12:40 comment. Put the shoe on the other foot. If a C&W singer had gone on stage and told Beyonce that her award properly belonged to Taylor Swift, the jerkiness of his behavior would be subsumed under the heading of racism, and justly so. White people would have fallen all over themselves in order to make that point. The fact that it is not being done here is the elephant in the room, and it is not a white elephant.

miller said...

What Zrimsek said.

And I have thankfully never listened to that guy Kanye before, and never intend to do so in the future. He was low class when he talked over Paul Simon and he's low class now.

Mark V Wilson said...

While I suppose it doesn't matter much to what the event means to people, I think that the event happened because MTV wanted it to happen.

peter hoh said...

William, is this what you were looking for?

kentuckyliz said...

He's a racist pig who dominates what he sees as a little white ho.

I hope we all bitch-slap him back into obscurity...although that will happen over Oprah's dead body.

Joseph said...

This is a central part of Kanye's M.O. as a performer/celebrity. And the audience eats it up and begs for bigger and badder stunts. And he delivers. I have trouble understanding how people get this worked up about a stupid stunt staged for shock value at the video f'ing music awards...

Joseph said...

miller & original mike: A word of advice: I would not admit that you've never heard of Kanye West if you want to retain any credibility in commenting on American popular culture.

dick said...

If that is what passes for American pop culture, then no loss.

William said...

Sinead O'Connor has a song that I wish I didn't like so much called "Famine". In the song Sinead tells of the self destruction and alcoholism endemic in the Irish community. She hangs the blame for this on the British occupation of Ireland. I'm Irish-American (although after 4-5 generations the hyphen is very attenuated). Nonetheless this narrative has tremendous appeal to me. Heavy drink killed my father and grandfather, and I'm no stranger to self destructive behavior. It is very pleasant to think that my sins and those of my fathers were caused by a crime against them. The ground I stand on may be sodden, but it's the moral high ground......I suppose there's something to the theory. Wounds heal, the pain goes away, even the scar disappears, but you're still left with the limp. Perhaps the spectral presence of British imperialism is behind all my failures. It's a fine comforting theory, and I wish it wasn't bull.......Let me argue against Sinead O'Connor rather than Kanye West. This will elevate the discussion, and no one can possibly characterize my harsh judgements as racist. I like Sinead very much. She has a fine clear voice and when young she was extravagantly beautiful. With her looks and talent, she should have been a monster star, but she seemed to take a willful pleasure in tearing up her chances. There is an integrity to her strong stands, but for all that her courage may be just a kind of denial. She came from a fucked up family and now claims to have a bipolar disorder. I think those facts have more to do with her butchered hair and career than the Brits and the Pope.....Perhaps the Brits and the Pope have as much to do with her success as with her torments. She claims the English stole her language. Maybe so, but try having a chart hit in Gaelic. The Catholic Church was a purveyor of abuse, but it was the conduit of Irish nationalism and gave us a sense of morality. Perhaps her righteousness is a function of her Catholic upbringing. Why are our vices the result of mistreatment by others, and out virtues the result of our honest efforts. Sometimes it's the other way around....Extrapolate this as you choose.

Paddy O. said...

William, great post. I think there is a cultural "learned helplessness" that isn't necessarily the strongest at the most stress, but when there is a relief, but not a total relief, of the cause.

It gets into the soul of a generation and it takes a long time to leave the culture, as the culture begins to embrace this as being an inherent part of their identity--sotted though it might be. Because while one generation endures the crushing blows, those in that generation enter into a lived despair they pass on to the next generation. Subsequent improvements in possibilities are then undermined by increased behavior issues, reflecting old assumptions. Only the process is so slow people "feel" like the oppression is no different than before.

You're moving past this as you see the English no longer oppressing, and you see the damage drunkenness has. But you're the product of generations of movement. Those in Ireland still have memories of that English induced poverty. And those in other cultures still feel the weight of generations of oppression that have only, in this past generation, been given significant relief. It takes a long time to bring despair to a people, and it takes a long time to come out of that despair--even if those on the outside don't see any cause for it anymore.

Some are early to understanding the possibilities, and some never get that mentality, but it takes a long, long time for a broad group of people to rise out and those old, one time significantly valid, assumptions.

It might even take generations for it to slowly wear down and off.

This is true, by the way, for pockets of cultures across racial lines, but there aren't always as clear boundaries where such a culture begins and ends.

Dark Eden said...

Beth said... Leno is such a suck-up. I don't understand why he still has an audience.


David Letterman

Johnny Vino said...

Behold as I drop some serious knowledge on you pasty James Taylor fans!

I loved College Dropout, but the seeds for this guy's problems are evident throughout the thing. Unlike most rappers or hip-hop moguls, his bravado was always laced with an insecurity-tinged self-promotion. He complains about lack of respect folding clothes at The Gap, not fitting in at college, and getting ditched by other labels. It works as a thread of continuity throughout the album, but it's a bit tragic that his increase in fame and power resulted in an expansion of intensity for those insecurities rather than an avenue for freedom from them.

In one of the dopest tracks on that album "It All Falls Down", Kanye admits "we all self-conscious, I'm just the first to admit it". In that line he's commenting on the fixation in the hip-hop culture (and perhaps modern black culture as a whole) with expensive, brand-specific clothes, jewelry and accessories. But it is also a moment of vulnerability since he seems to be offering himself up as a potential leader in helping black America move beyond its self-imposed slavery to materialism. However, in the same cut, he falls back to a sad defeatist take on the ultimate futility of black people to escape their insecurities through wealth and power - "even if you in a Benz, you still a n***a in a coupe."

You hoped that this young brother would pick up the musical torch from A Tribe Called Quest, merge it with his capacity for wit (which I ironically found similar to Ben Folds), sprinkle some legitimate edginess a la Black Star, and...away we go! But alas, this was not the case. Homeboy became a hamster in the same wheel of posing and brand-pimping that men with fewer self-doubts and insecurities are happy to keep on spinning. You don't see Jay Z or Russell Simmons blow up or wig out in public like that. Dey happy just gettin paid, son!

Alas, Kanye wanted more. He wanted artistic respect and the classical adulation that goes with, but he wanted to feel good about getting it. When it occurred to him how badly he sold out, he reverted back to the mindset where he was most comfortable - folding shirts at The Gap and feeling angry at the man. Truly, truly sad.

I hope this comment will be the first of many here at Althouse that dives into the richness of HipHop lyrics and musicality. Perhaps someone wants to discuss whether Big Daddy Kane's "Pimpin ain't Easy" has been thoroughly debunked by the recent ACORN videos??

Peace!

Dudley Do-right said...

William, thou art indeed thoughtful tonight. Each post deeper than the last. Thank you.

William said...

Paddy: Thanks for you well thought out response. I think you might be closer generationally to Ireland than I am. By neuroses and genes I am definitely Irish, but I share none of the angry nationalism. There were great crimes committed against the Irish, but the people who committed them are long dead and gone. I've read Dickens. The average Brit at that time didn't have such a great deal and didn't share in the spoils. It's all nihilism and waste to curse a phantom oppressor for the pain in a phantom limb. It's all dead and gone.......As I treat the English, I would wish Kanye to treat whites. There were great sins committed against the blacks, but it would be a stretch to define my ancestors as the oppressor class. I'm pretty sure Henry Gates has more slave owners in his blood line than I do. I suppose there were and are some perks in being white, but the ability to hail a cab in midtown is a meaningless privilege for those without cab fare. I hope Kanye finds a center that is not grounded in anger against bystanders like Taylor Swift.

The Crack Emcee said...

I just got back from work, and it wasn't altogether a bad day, so I refuse to watch that.

Why ruin it?

Joseph said...

If that is what passes for American pop culture, then no loss.

Pop culture is what it is. It doesn't need to "pass" any bar to qualify. And you can choose to be aware of your culture or choose ignorance. If you've never even heard of a huge pop icon like Kanye West, then you have chosen ignorance.

Shanna said...

I really don't know how so many people missed Golddigger, but I'll just chalk it up to an age thing :) My parents probably don't know it either.

David said...

Jay should have asked "Kanye, do you like fish sticks? Do you like putting fish sticks in your mouth?"

bagoh20 said...

I wonder if I have deeper meaning and historical bread crumbs leading to the basis of my motivations. Do I have complex psychosocial meaning behind my words and actions. Damn, I got ripped off, I'll never be famous. I just eat when I'm hungry and if someone says: hey you look good in black, that's what I'll wear 4 days a week. I don't belong on this planet. It's a deeply confusing place for us simpletons.

Pogo said...

William and Paddy O, you guys have got to read this:
An Irish History of Civilization, by Don Akenson. ("21 used from $5.45"!)

Man, it'll knock your Irish socks off. It's funny, learned, and wise. It casts blame on no one race or people, but shows Ireland warts and all by way of a Talmudic storyline. Sinead O'Connor needs to learn from it, at a minimum. I'll bet you've never read anything like it.

It's two volumes, some 1500 pages total. Damn, I'm glad I read it. Broke me of my romantic views of that emerald isle and taught me a whole hell of alot about the world.

Aaron said...

what struck me is how much of his apology was all about him. how he has to live with himself, etc.

that and yeah, excusing it as a delayed reaction to your mother dying... seriously, wtf.

The man-child needs to grow up.

Btw, i didn't see Beyonce looking horrified. more like uncomfortable and not sure what is going on, so smiling, etc. i wouldn't be shocked if this is her thoughts at the moment, "sorry, wtf? is this a skit? Is Taylor being punked? okay, um, better keep smiling until i figure out what is what."

twolaneflash said...

You could have skipped this topic. I stopped watching these late night liberals years ago. Late shows went over the cliff with L & L(Leno & Letterman / Lousy & Lousier). There has been no replacement that comes close to the talent of Johnny Carson, Ernie Kovaks, Jack Parr, or Steve Allen. Talent is in short supply apparently, or politics trumps quality. Kanye and The Kenyan, not as funny as Martin & Lewis, but still a joke.