Kanye West: Genius or Moron? – Cartoon Logic
On Sunday, the rapping man Kanye West was given the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award by MTV. After, he made an acceptance speech in which he announced his intention to run for President of the USA in 2020. This somewhat surprising proclamation has left me considering whether West is actually the most complex and nuanced intellect who has ever lived, or the most staggering moron that has yet generated thoughts.
Evidence of brilliance: In 2013, West’s daughter was born. It is unclear which parent came up with the name ‘North’, but let us, for the sake of this column, assume it was West. He knowingly attached the forename ‘North’ to the surname ‘West’, with the result, ‘North West’, being an entirely conscious decision. Do not underestimate the might of thought behind said decision. North West is surely a name dripping with irony. It’s irony on a cosmic scale. West knew that celebrities have taken to giving unusual names to their children. Apple Martin. Fifi Trixibelle Geldof. Jermajesty Jackson. He knew this, so he gave his daughter a name that utterly parodied this trend. By choosing a name that he knew was stupid, and that he knew we would know is stupid, he demonstrated an incredible degree of self-awareness. Not only that, but by giving his daughter a stupid name, he performed an act of merciless teasing that will haunt his child for the rest of her life, earning himself huge numbers of prank points.
Evidence of idiocy: West deliberately named his daughter North West. Why would anyone do that? It’s beyond stupid. Do not name your daughter North West. I’ll say it again in case you didn’t understand. DO NOT NAME YOUR DAUGHTER NORTH WEST. It’s useless. What is West’s point? Well, North Westerly, apparently, but seriously, why? What does it mean? North isn’t a completely horrendous forename, but it’s pretty bad. I suppose it’s vaguely evocative, in a sort of upward, topward, North Star kind of way. But North West? What’s that? What is that? Is it purely geographical? It makes me think of Hitchcock films, or Liverpool, or wind. That’s it. Wind. West’s daughter is part of the shipping forecast. Amazing.
Evidence of brilliance: In June of this year, West performed at the Glastonbury Festival. His inclusion was opposed by many. Following in the footsteps of Jay-Z, who performed Oasis’s Wonderwall to both satiate the rock-band desires of the Glastonbury crowd and take a shot at Noel Gallagher, West performed a bit of Bohemian Rhapsody. This was masterful. In doing so, he tipped his hat to the legendary Freddie Mercury, connected himself with one of the greatest British rock bands at a major British cultural event and got the entire crowd of tens of thousands singing along. An incredible bit of showmanship that demonstrates much thoughtfulness on his part.
Evidence of idiocy: Earlier this year, West tried to look cool by singing (not rapping) Bohemian Rhapsody. There was definitely some arrogance in doing so. Why did he think the crowd wanted to hear him singing a song that is semi-sacred to many a rock fan? Why did he want to bring the memory of Mercury to the forefront of the minds of his audience? Inevitably, unfavourable comparisons would be made, and West wouldn’t come off well. Not against Freddie Mercury. And as he sang, he forgot the words. He forgot the words! If you don’t know the words well enough, DO NOT PERFORM THE SONG LIVE TO THOUSANDS, YOU IDIOT. And then, just after, he announced he was the greatest living rock star on the planet. You just fluffed a rock song in front of a Glastonbury audience. It speaks for itself, doesn’t it? It was such a stupid decision, that it’s unlikely. It’s unlikely that anyone is that stupid.
Evidence of brilliance: West is a powerful man. He’s a man who can invigorate a crowd, start a movement, create cultural artefacts. He is undoubtedly an icon of our times, is one of the best-selling artists of all time and has been part of TIME 100 on three separate occasions, a feat shared by Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama. If he can unite people and communicate a message, which he can, then why not politics? Why not try to change the world in the most direct way possible? Why not announce a presidency bid?
Evidence of idiocy: West imagines that we live in a universe in which he could actually become the most powerful person in the world. We live on an inherently random, chaotic and stupid planet. There are no secret global organisers. There is no Illuminati (which is exactly what I would say if there was one). But despite this ingrained indiscrimination, there is no way the people of the world would let West rule. The nations of the world are more likely, in the event of a West election victory, to immediately and spontaneously invade the USA en masse, in a desperate bid to install anyone else as President, even Donald Trump. Even Deez Nuts. Even him.
A conclusion? That’s impossible. West is inscrutable. He’s beyond enigmatic. The very nature of his actions mean that we cannot possibly hope to understand if he’s joking or being serious. We can try to apply Ockham’s razor, but we’ll fail. Our twin hypotheses (that’s he is a genius or that he is an imbecile) can’t both be true. But we can’t reject the one with fewer assumptions, because we can’t assume anything with West. He might truly be a titan of intellect. Then again, he might simply be a fool, but not simply, because no one could be that stupid. If he was really that stupid, he would be so stupid that it would be seriously unlikely. West, if he was that stupid, would be so stupid that I couldn’t, ever, understand how stupid he was.
Which, I suppose, is stupid. In a clever sort of way.