Fewer celebrities have attracted more criticism over the past few years than hip-hop star Kanye West. After emerging as a popular artist following a near-fatal car crash in 2002, a series of outrageously brash comments have largely eroded the empathy with which he was first welcomed.
Among those who have publicly lashed out at his over-the-top behavior is Barack Obama. After West crashed a portion of the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009, Obama famously referred to the rapper as a “jackass.”
West, who campaigned for Obama during his 2008 bid, said in a recent radio interview that he feels he was “used” for his ability to reach potential voters.
According to the rapper, Obama “used to come and visit me and my mama and tell me that he’s about to run for president,” explaining that after the 2008 election, his influence was no longer needed.
“I just think that we’re pop icons,” he said, “and the president likes to use that type of thing just to be down and stuff.”
While much of the U.S. derided West for his antics at the awards show, he said Obama joined in as an opportunity to appear relevant and take the focus off of his own missteps.
“People was fine with me being everyone’s punching bag for about five years,” he said.
Obama, he concluded, felt that “if you want to distract people from everything that’s going on … just say you hate Kanye and there’s going to be 30 other people who say they hate Kanye.”
Though his tendency toward self-absorption means West attributes many cultural trends to his mere presence, he did pinpoint a common theme of the Obama presidency. No matter the scandal, this administration will find a scapegoat or distraction it hopes will preoccupy the nation.
As an increasing number of individuals demand Obama face accountability for his failed leadership, though, this efficacy of this tactic is rapidly reducing. Kanye West is just the latest of his former supporters who recognize the insincerity and delusion with which this president operates.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo credit: Fresh Conservative (Creative Commons)