kanye west, jay leno, and taylorgate :: a rare moment

sorry closed sign

I’m quiet.  Thinking.  I don’t think I’ve seen that in a long, long time.  In fact, I’m trying to remember the last time…  from a public figure… ?  Nope.  Can’t remember the last time I saw one.

A real apology.

If you don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip, pop culture, etc., it’s possible you missed out on “Taylorgate”:  Kanye West’s disrespectful rant during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for her MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Music Video on Sunday evening.  Bottom line:  he was a jerk, and the crowd ate him for dinner.  You can read about it here, or, if you want to watch it, here you go…

Note:  Viacom has been pulling down any posted video footage they can find of this incident due to copyright infringement.  Therefore, I’ve pulled my video link, as well.

I’m not a Taylor swift fan.  Don’t know any of her music.  I’m not a Kanye fan.  I’m pretty sure he wrote and performed “Jesus Walks.”  And I only know that because I’m a fan of Jesus.  Otherwise, I can’t name one Kanye West song.  I don’t have a horse in this race.  So dedicating a blog post to Kanye has nothing to do with his celebrity or my respect for him as an artist.  From the snippets of pop culture media I’ve seen over the last couple of years regarding Kanye, my knowledge base on the subject can be summed up in two bullet points:  (1)  He seems to be a pretty talented artist, and (2) he seems to have a pretty healthy ego.

His taking the stage (and the mic) Sunday night did not seem completely out of character for Kanye West, in my limited view.

What has me quiet and a little stunned tonight is actually Kanye’s apology, delivered interview style on Jay Leno’s new show that premiered last night.  If you haven’t seen it, please go now and watch.  My blog will wait…  Go ahead… < click here >

(no really… go watch it…  or the rest of this won’t have the same impact.  OK.  Go…)

The apology to Taylor on Leno’s show was truly was remarkable.  I’m trying to figure out why it moved me so much.

First of all, I just came out of a meeting a few hours ago with a group of people I hold in HIGH regard: the combined staff and leadership teams of Living Hope Church.  During the meeting, one of our teammates said, “Humble people inspire me.  Praise God for humble people.”  And I guess that’s really part of it.  Being in a room full of deeply humble people all evening puts a person in a “no baloney” kind of mood.  Real, authentic, deep relationships shorten my tolerance for superficiality, celebrity, and ego trips.

My take:  Kanye West reflected real, authentic humility.  And he is an international superstar.  THAT is a rare moment worth analyzing:

(1)  He showed up.  As Woody Allen famously said, “eighty percent of success is showing up.”  Kanye could have avoided responsibility, laid low, waited for the dust to settle.  I respect him for showing up.  Took some guts.

(2)  He affirmed Taylor as a talented artist and he acknowledged that he hurt her.

(3)  He flat out OWNED his error.  “I hurt someone…  it was wrong…  it was actually someone’s emotions that I stepped on, it was very… it was just… it was  rude.  Period.”  What?  This doesn’t fit the mold.  There seems to be a “public figure apology/non-apology” model that goes something like this… “If you were offended, I’m sorry that your feelings were hurt.”  Drives my authenticity meter through the roof.  Basically, I’m not admitting any wrongdoing here, but if YOU have a problem with what I did, it’s too bad that you feel that way.  Holy Hannah.  Makes me want to throw things at my television.  But Kanye OWNED it.  He actually said the “w” word.  WRONG.  As if there may be a moral standard that exists OUTSIDE of Kanye West.  Wow.

(4)  He didn’t make a single excuse.  In the one moment that may have sounded like a justification for his actions, Kanye was quick to assert, “I don’t try to justify it, because I was just in the wrong… that’s just, period.”  The minute an apology is followed by a “but,” the apology ceases to be an apology.

(5)  He modeled a Biblical concept here:  Repentance.  It’s a churchy word that just means, “to turn around and go the other way.”  It’s more than lip service.  More than just, “Yep.  Sinned again.  Sorry.”  It’s an acknowledgement that “I have been on a wrong path, and I need to turn around and go the other way.”  When Kanye talked about taking some time off, doing some self-analysis, and trying to figure out how to improve – to live better…  That sounded an awful lot like repentance to me.  I’ve been on the wrong path.  Time to turn around.

(6)  He offered to make it right.  “If there’s anything I could do to… help Taylor…”  That sealed the deal for me.  He came full circle.  Kanye showed up.  Acknowledged her hurt.  Apologized verbally.  Took responsibility.  Made no excuse.  Repented.  And then offered to make it right.

You know what?  I’m not in the habit of asking my kids to pay attention to pop icons.  As a general rule, we discourage them from looking up to celebrities.  But this is one celebrity video clip that we’re going to watch together.

Creative Commons License
“kanye west, jay leno, and taylorgate :: a rare moment” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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~ by jskogerboe on September 15, 2009.

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