Why does a Kanye West video receive so much backlash and controversy? Is it because there are 12 well-known celebrities laying naked in bed together? Or is it because Kanye West did it?
I like to think it’s a combination of both. But the very thing that goes unnoticed in this is the art behind it. People are very quick to question and even quickly denounce this video as ‘art’. If you think that way, you’re probably either a) not an artist or b)do not appreciate or understand art. And not to mention the entire concept was inspired by this piece by artist Vince Desiderio in 2008 entitled Sleep.
Art is supposed to provoke. Art is the expression of human creative skill and imagination, and is usually appreciated for it’s emotional power. If there is anything that this video has, it’s emotional power. Think about it, once you see a person that you know via internet, television, media in general, you tend to subconsciously put them on a pedestal. This is what’s known as fame. I say subconsciously because we tend to do it without thinking, thinking these people are above the condition of human flaw. Media makes a living on exposing celebrities’ slip-ups. So when you see a famous person exposed in their most vulnerable form that is nudity, of course it strikes a chord in you because of how the media has packaged these people to us.
When I first saw clips from this video, the first thing I did was laugh hysterically. Why? Because this is exactly what I would, but also did not expect from Kanye West. I also thought it was funny just thinking about all of the disapproving things people were going to say about him and this video. I am sort of biased in a way in accordance to Ye, but all other factors put aside, this video is a masterpiece of sorts.
Kanye presents a 10-minute long video of wax figures of 12 very famous and relevant people (George Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian West, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, Bill Cosby, and himself of course) in a large bed together, all asleep, all naked. Aside from what this video is obviously showing, lets look into what Kanye’s statement with this is.
He called the video a ‘comment on fame’ and I completely understand this comment now that the video has been able to sit with us for a bit. His comment basically is that celebrities, even the most controversial ones, are just as human as we are. Considering the context of this video, behind the obvious implicatures, they’re just humans, doing an extremely human thing: sleeping. The fact that they’re naked implies an even stronger emphasis on the human aspect. Kanye knew what he was doing with this video, and even looking at who is next to who in the bed implies a certain connection between them and also implies that the viewer knows exactly why they’re there.
For example, Rihanna and Chris Brown are sleeping next to each other. Kanye and Taylor Swift are sleeping next to each other, with his wife on the other side of him. And right next to Kim lies Ray J, with Amber Rose next to him. There are some implied background stories within the order of which these people lay, and Kanye knows that we all know them, because they’re famous. And because they’re famous, seeing all of them naked at once is the last thing you would expect to see, ever. That’s why this video is a masterpiece. It is literally a painting that says a thousand words without having to say any.
For almost half of the video it is literally just the camera panning across this bed with no music playing, just the sound of silence & sleep (a little snoring here and there). That should especially make viewers uncomfortable after they had just watched this scene with music in the background at least. But if you made it to the end of the video, Kanye lists the names of the celebrities featured in the video and thanks them for being famous. After seeing that comment I immediately knew where Kanye was going with this.
Moral of the story is, this is just Kanye continuing to Kanye. Continuing to push the envelope in music and art in general. Continuing to challenge the minds of the masses. Please Kanye, continue being Kanye.
Sources: Vanity Fair