Just to be clear up front, I’m not saying that smacking paparazzi upside the temple is something to admire.
And no, obviously, I’m not here to try and sell you on the idea that kids ought to be taught the distinct cultural advantages to crashing the stage at award show ceremonies.
But take a look at what I am trying to sell you on, as a fellow parent, when it comes to Kanye West and these kids of ours. He isn’t 100% role model. But he’s got some amazing role model qualities. Sure, even then you might not want to stop hating on Mr. West. It’s just so damn easy.
But then again … who knows? Stranger stuff has happened.
Just hear me out.
1. Kanye inspires people (maybe not you, but still …)
Kanye West, and all Kanye West-types, and by types I mean wildly-talented humans whose own social compasses that may possibly be a bit banged up from so many deep and artsy thoughts pinging off of them for the last 20 years or so: these sorts of artists aren’t meant to be grinning dumbly at you from behind the counter down at the Jiffy Lube or whatever. These are go-getters. They are the rare and much-needed providers of art and entertainment, and for every one of them that you or I say we hate — because they act this way or seem arrogant or whatever — I can absolutely guarantee you there is another one who acts exactly the same and who we are devoted fans of because we dig their records or films or books.
Art and jerks go together.
Didn’t you know that?
The way I see it, if you want your kids to be tiny sheep who bite their lip when criticism comes hurling at them from strangers — and if you think it would be just fine and dandy for your children to grow into adults who don’t stir the pot too much, who don’t go around trying to reinvent the wheel or at least create something vibrant and stimulating to add to the world — then by all means, ignore Kanye West.
But if you fail to see how a man saturated with so much raw talent in music and fashion and design and production, to the point where I think it actually might leak down into his eyes sometimes and cloudy up his vision … if you fail to see how that could ever be the kind of guy who might inspire a young person to follow in his artistic footsteps or at least dream of conquering a tiny bit of all that he has conquered, then I think you are missing a whole lot.
2. Kanye digs Kanye (self confidence is good in this critical world)
People like to think that being humble and kind and gentle is the only way to ever present yourself. But that’s such bullsh*t and everyone knows it. How many men or women do you know who are honestly just so pleasant and wonderful and have something to offer the world at the same time? Not many I bet. If you’ve got any kind of creative sizzle happening up behind your face, most genuine, honest-to-God sweethearts will bore the blood out of your veins in 40 minutes tops.
The thing is, I think a lot of people get jealous of guys like Kanye West. I think tons of people dream of being a man who can make every head turn when he walks into the room, whether he’s at Paris Fashion Week or the Grammys or just waltzing into some burger joint at 3am in the Hollywood night. But I also get the feeling that lots of those same people resent the very fact that those superpowers usually fall into another person’s “charmed” life. Truth is, though, despite our petty jealousies and the disharmony they cause when they slosh up against the walls of our soul, we probably couldn’t handle the powers even if we were lucky enough to have them. And I think that’s important to note right here.
You know, maybe our kids could seriously learn a lot about handling themselves from watching an artist like Kanye. The man is self-confident to a fault, but is that always a bad thing? And given the fact that he is who he is, I sometimes get the feeling that he’s not really doing that bad of a job all things considered, you know? I don’t see Kanye getting arrested for beating on women. I don’t see Kanye getting pulled over for DUI every few months. I don’t hear much about Kanye molesting kids or doing mountains of dope or whatever.
I hear people getting pissed off when Kanye stands up for Beyoncé. Against Beck.
Kanye is a smart SOB, y’all. Here I am writing about him. Here you are reading about him. There he is making art and acting jive at awards shows. Beck is cool. I dig Beyoncé. Here comes Kanye. Guess who won the night?
I think kids could learn a lot from that if, in fact, they ever want to have a slight shot at making waves in this world instead of flipping burgers or selling used cars. You don’t have to be an out-of-control egomaniac to succeed in the arts. But a bit of egomania never burnt down the building, people.
3. Kanye is a human mirror.
Do you ever look at Kanye West on the TV or listen to his music or read an interview with him and stop for a sec to try and see yourself in him somehow?
If you answer, “YEAH,” I suspect that, like me, you probably have had some artistic inclinations in your life. And that you’ve also had your share of ups and downs, too.
If you answer “NO … HELL NO … I HATE THAT COCKY BABY B*TCH!”, I’m just venturing a guess here, of course, but I’m guessing that people who take the time to really dislike an artist like Kanye West do so because either
a) he appears well over-confident
b) he seems really caught up in his own life as performance
And the funny thing about either of these reasons to really dislike a person, about why they seem to convince so many to refuse him any possible leverage as a role model for 21st century kids: they are the same exact reasons I believe he actually could and should be the kind of person that kids who one day hope to make a big splash in this world are hyper aware of and observe with curious eyes.
Kanye West isn’t a product of his own imagination, he’s a contributor to our own.
Kanye West might not be who you seem to want or even need him to be, and that’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.
When you look at Kanye West and point an easy finger and accuse him of crimes against being good or decent or worthwhile, you should probably also realize that you’re looking in a mirror, man. Because you might be lacking in some of those departments yourself, you know?
And look. I understand. Even now, after all these words, Kanye West might still seem to you to be the last person you would ever want your kids to look up to. That’s cool. That’s your prerogative. Hey, listen, maybe he will prove to be a colossal mistake on my part, me endorsing him and all. But I’ll take that chance. Because I haven’t really seen a tried and true reason to hate on the guy yet.
But I have seen a bunch of reasons to believe he could teach my kids a thing or two about how to chase down your dreams in a land where that’s getting harder and harder to do.More On