Yesterday, I got into a legitimate, knock-down, drag-out yelling argument with my father during an hour-long drive from my home in the suburbs to Chicago for a hair appointment. The subject? The standards to which we hold celebrities and their behavior in the public eye.
I've always been a "live and let live" type of person and I pride myself on trying to remain objective and remember that celebrities are people, too. My father is of the opinion that, as public figures, as people who chose to become icons, role models, celebrities, people who would certainly be in the public eye for their actions, those so privileged should have pristine records. Okay, to be completely fair, he said something more along the lines of "they should behave themselves", but honestly, I'm still really angry about that conversation because to me, it reeked of an inability to recognize that no one is perfect.
Especially celebrities. They're put in the spotlight (admittedly, by their own choice - most of the time) and their actions are able to be scrutinized more closely than those of everyday people. As media latches on to scandals and other acts of celebrity idiocy, it's as if they forget that these people were once normal (whatever that means) and lived lives very similar to us. They forget the kind of pressure that these people are under on a day-to-day basis.
We, as private citizens, revel in the privilege of "the privacy of our own homes", where we can come home at the end of the day and shuck off our public persona, where we can be ourselves, where we can take the time to recharge. When we don't get that time to unwind, to connect with who we really are instead of who people think we are, or the time to DISconnect with who we think people think we should be, we cannot remain as "normal" or as well-adjusted as we should be.
Sometimes, people do incredibly stupid things. Sometimes, those things happen on national television.
I haven't watched the MTV Video Music Awards in their entirety. Mainly because I forgot to set a reminder for my DVR, partially because my mother was using the big-screen to watch Project Runway, and mostly because I tend to avoid watching any music awards ceremony propagated by cable television networks because, invariably, somebody's going to do something stupid and I have a limited tolerance for idiocy (That's right, I'm looking at YOU, BET...).
True to form, the 2009 MTV Video Music awards had more than its fair share of moronic antics and quite possibly should be referred to colloquially as "Stage Crashers Redux". Between watching (on YouTube) the stage crashing by Kanye West and Lil Mama, I alternated between shaking my head in disgust, cringing in horror, and chuckling to myself as I congratulated myself at avoiding watching yet another train wreck.
However, since this appears to be the week of unconscionably rude behavior ("You LIE!"...Hi, Joe Wilson), the media has had a veritable field day with this. To start off, for those of you who aren't completely aware of what happened (have you been hiding under a rock, my lovely readers?), stage crasher and frequent tantrum thrower, Kanye West, hopped on the stage as Taylor Swift was accepting her VMA for Best Female Video ("You Belong with Me"), interrupted her acceptance speech and declared that Beyoncé should have won the award for her video, "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)", calling it "one of the best videos of all time".
He was treated to boos and catcalls from the audience, and in a moment cut by MTV censors cameras, reportedly flipped off the audience as he returned to his seat. During a commercial break, it is reported that Pink stalked past him and shook her head in disgust. Swift attempted to continue her acceptance speech but, alas, her microphone was cut off and she departed for backstage, where she was reportedly found crying. West was removed from the venue for his actions. In a moment of supreme class and graciousness, Beyoncé, winning the VMA for Video of the year, reminiscing on her first VMA appearance at 17 with Destiny's Child, invited Taylor Swift up on stage to finish her interrupted acceptance speech instead of presenting her own.
What Kanye West did was the very definition of a dick move. He could have taken to his blog (God knows this is the only time we've ever wished for that) to express his dismay, but instead, as a celebrity, he robbed a talented artist in her own right (the people DID vote for her, after all) of her moment in the limelight, and what's worse, as a human being, as an ADULT, he humiliated a teenager in front of the entire world and all of her musical idols. He was reckless, irresponsible and his behavior during this whole fiasco was utterly reprehensible. Flipping off the cameras and audience after you did something completely wrong? Real mature, 'Ye. And I can guarantee you (as well as anyone who watched the footage) that Beyoncé did not appreciate the gesture. As the camera cut to her, she looked shocked, appalled, and embarrassed on the behalf of Kanye himself AND Taylor Swift.
Since then, celebrities and private citizens alike have flocked to Swift's defense, condemning what will probably go down in the books as one of the doucheiest things that Kanye has ever done (and that's saying something). I also condemn what he did, but I, personally, accept his apology. Not the one on his blog (which I'm pretty sure is down right now because of too much traffic), I refuse to accept that one because I'm fairly certain he was still drunk when he typed it - he was seen with an ENTIRE BOTTLE of Hennessy both on the red carpet and in the venue. If he wasn't drunk, well, then call me a snob for not reading nonsense that's written in all caps and in language that would make the 8th grade me cringe with its lack of grammatical and syntax logic. The apology that I'm referring to is his unplanned interview with Jay Leno. I've never seen West look that contrite and sincere, and for me, that is what matters.
Some have blasted Jay Leno for bringing up West's late mother, Donda West, and what she would have thought about her son's behavior, calling it insensitive and rude and prying and what-have-you, but honestly? I think that Leno's queries got through to West. We all know that Donda was the only person on God's green earth that could ever get Kanye to stop acting a fool, and now that she's gone, who's going to do that for him?
It is possible that his outbursts of late have been coming from a dark place of grief because he knows that his outrageous behavior will not bring a phone call from his mama (or more likely, a smack upside his head as he comes backstage after doing something stupid) as it once might have done. I'm proud of him for coming up so soon after this and apologizing for his actions and I'm even prouder of him for taking the time to rethink his actions and where they're coming from. I wish him all the best of luck in moving forward from this.
As for Lil Mama, I have no words for her because the only person she embarrassed was herself. Heifa, we can forgive Kanye because he has talent and the record sales to back it up. You, my wee stage crasher, are a reality TV show judge. Go sit down somewhere, silly child. You even attracted the ire of normally even-keeled Alicia Keys. When SHE starts tweeting about your idiocy, you know you messed up. You're in the time out corner with Chris Brown.
P.S. Chris Brown...did you see that interview? He was contrite, apologetic and promised to TAKE TIME OFF TO REFLECT. Take notes, boo. Take notes.
P.P.S. Jay-Z, put a tighter leash on your crew. First Chris Brown jacks up your protégé, then your fav producer, in a bid to espouse his admiration for your spouse, makes a fool of himself. Then YOUR performance is crashed by Lil Mama? Come on, dude. You're HOV, for Christ's sake. Get on it. People will start to think that married life has made you soft.
P.P.P.S. MTV, now would be a good time to institute a 3-drink maximum during your awards ceremonies and hiring security to guard the stage. Only Shirley Temples if you're Courtney Love, Lady Gaga's stylist, Lil Kim, Soulja Boy Tell 'Em or Britney when she's not on her meds.