A lot of ink has been spilled over Kanye West’s latest impromptu rant. Allow me to spill more. Unless you have been living in a cave in northern Afghanistan , you’ve no doubt heard about the rapper’s well-thought-out decision to join country music sensation Taylor Swift onstage to accept her MTV Best Female Video award.
On live TV, the ever-affable Kanye took center stage, overcoming his usual inherent shyness. Grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift, he cut her off in mid-sentence and blurted “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” His eloquence was greeted by a chorus of boos from a surprisingly annoyed audience and a look of complete shock from Beyoncé herself. (Go figure).
What you may not recall is that this is not the first time Kanye has pulled such a stunt. He also took center stage at the American Music Awards in 2004, declaring he was robbed of the Best New Artist award. Boorish behavior? Perhaps. But on the bright side, at least he clearly has overcome his fear of public speaking.
This all got me to thinking (my loyal blog followers know that when Tim thinks, bad things usually happen). I began asking myself, “Tim (because that’s the name I usually go by), Tim (in case I wasn’t listening the first time), what has happened to civility in our country?” Just read the newspaper or turn on the TV. This decline in manners and common courtesy is everywhere around us. Just a few examples rudely leap to mind:
• The Healthcare town hall meetings, where people shouted down any who had a differing point of view.
• The showdown between police officer and professor (aka the Crowley-Gate Affair) that resulted in Presidential intervention and the first ever beer summit. (That spawned a more rational crisis over the protocol of serving foreign beer over domestic. Finally something worth getting pissed about.).
• Congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie!” during President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress. (In all fairness, what Representative Wilson wanted to say was “You don’t say?” but in the nervousness of the moment, his words came out a bit clumsily. Others speculate that he really said “You’re a LION” – intending to compliment the President on the forceful, positive “lionesque” tone of his speech, but a longstanding speech impediment mangled that one.)
• Just about anything Bill O’Reilly has said – ever.
• The latest Jerry Springer show where this trailer trash woman berated her poor husband merely for sleeping with her sister, with the following tongue-lashing, and I quote: “You are a f%*&$%-in Worthless Piece of *@#%. I’m gonna kill you, you m%&*$%-er, you *$&^%-in’ useless, horrible piece of %*#+, I hate you, you $%**#@-er.” There are no words – or $ymbol$ – to describe the discourse that followed.
• My daughter Rachel, who recently said to her sister Emily: “You’re a butthead. Give me back the remote.”
When will this insanity end? It seems civilization has become highly uncivilized. With all the TV reality shows where people backstab and bash each other, I wonder where we are headed. Heck, even our president has lowered the bar of civility by calling Kanye West “a jackass” for his VMA rant. To which I can only say, “Hey, Mr. President, how did you know Kanye was a Democrat?” Clever: Democrat — jackass — get it?… Forget it.
Perhaps, as someone who still pines for my long lost thank-you wave in traffic, I am being overly sensitive. As a full disclaimer, I must tell you that I live in Seattle, the most politically correct, polite place in the world (unless you count the Magic Kingdom and Canada). People here are polite almost to a fault, and for that I apologize to the rest of you from elsewhere who must deal with us polite Seattleites. (Oh, I hope I did not offend anyone from Seattle by this previous comment.) After all, they don’t call Seattle “the most annoyingly polite, well-behaved, oh-no-I-could-not-possibly-take-the-last-piece-of-pie, after-you-I-insist, just-steam-roll-over-me-I-won’t-mind” city in the country for nothing. I hope that’s not offensive to say.
Speaking of steam rolling, that brings me back to Kanye West. He may be a bit of a steam roller at times, spouting off his mouth before he has fully engaged that part of his brain that controls the “Keep your stupid trap shut” nerve center. But if you only knew Kanye like his posse knows him, you would realize that he is actually a really modest, sensitive guy, who only had Taylor Swift’s best intentions in mind.
Kanye knew that by acting impulsively and putting the spotlight on himself, his actions might be misconstrued as mean-spirited, insensitive, selfish, and egotistical, irreparably tarnishing what should have been the greatest moment of Taylor Swift’s life. But if you dig just a little deeper, you may realize, as I do, that Kanye was doing the most altruistic, unselfish thing he could have possibly done. He was showing Taylor what it might feel like to be upstaged by a mean-spirited, insensitive, selfish, egotistical celebrity.
What he was trying to say to Taylor in his own selfless way was “Don’t be like me. See how badly it feels? Don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated.” I am almost certain that as a result of Kanye’s courageous act, you will never see Taylor Swift crash a Public Enemy or a 50 cents awards speech (What? There is no “s” in “50 cent”? That makes no sense, or should I say, no sent? That’s just plain silly…) and shout out “Hey, Shania Twain should have won for Best New Rap video, y’all.” Taylor learned a valuable life lesson. But in this era of waning manners, I doubt she will ever thank Kanye for his kindness on that special night.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Kanye West is coming out with a new book – working title: Kanye West’s Guide to a Kinder, Nicer YOU! He has all sorts of practical advice on how to show the world the nicer side of you. Here are just a couple tips (which he was polite enough to let me share with you – he is such a nice guy):
• Always be sure to have your personal valet’s assistant personally thank the stretch limo driver before exiting the limo and offer the driver an extra $500 not to say anything about your “special lady friend” escorting you to the party.
• When you choose to completely blow off the Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony in your honor because at the last minute you decided to do Poker Night instead, be sure to have someone accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on your behalf – might I suggest Bobby Brown? He’s not doing much these days. And humbly apologize for “an unavoidable conflict.”
• When an adoring fan approaches you in a restaurant, asking for your autograph because it would mean the world to her ill nine-year old daughter who is undergoing chemotherapy for a rare blood disorder, do not delegate such requests to one of your bodyguards. Greet the fan in person, hold her hand gently, and tell her you would be glad to give her an autographed 8 x 10 glossy and say, with a smile, “The price is $100 — $50 extra if you’d like the commemorative embossed picture frame.”
So there you go. Perhaps, with the help of Kanye West’s gracious, inspiring, caring example, there is still hope for us to return to the well-mannered, civilized society of 1958 television sitcoms, not to mention their more modest dress codes.
And to those people out there who simply refuse to look in the mirror and acknowledge that they too could be a little bit nicer and a little more courteous to their fellow human beings, I have just one thing to say: Screw you! Hey, I’m talking to you, Taylor Swift.
That’s the view from the Bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011
What an odd perspective on his motives Tim, but yet you are unable to see that Bill O’Reilly plays the middle of the road well as a registered Independent. In fact he is starting to rub us conservatives the wrong way. He did call Kanye’s performance that night worthy of being a Pinhead!
Yet not all is lost, because I did see the connection between a Democrat and a Jackass. And not the animal, but the way they play the double standards game. Such convenient memory loss of their past behaviors.
Let’s face it, everyone acts like a Jackass at one time or another, and some folks make a career out of being disrespectful. It doesn’t even need to be overt disrespect, because saying one thing and doing another, AKA lying, is disrespectful too.
“Imma’ let you finish, but Dave Barry got the best blog of all time…” But you’re holding your own…
The translation of the Hon. Mr. Wilson’s shouted comment as “You’re a Lion!” makes sense to me. Mr. Obama did his undergratuate work at Columbia, where the mascot is, in fact, a lion. He is the first president of the U.S. to have graduated from Columbia. On his next visit to Capitol Hill, I would encourage Mr. Obama to yell, “You’re a General!” at Mr. Wilson, whose alma mater is Washington & Lee University (“the Generals”). Or not.
Maybe Kanye West can move to South Carolina and run against Joe Wilson for Congress. They deserve each other.
You should keep a list of all these crass people and give out an award at the end of the year.
Of course, I think neither Joe Wilson or Kanye West can hold a candle to Governor Sanford in the race for most crass public figure of 2009.
John Pickett? Weird. That was my grandfather’s name. He was born in Ohio and spent most of his life in Illinois. Coincidence? I think not. Somehow the universe has brought the Pickett family together to read Tim Jones blog.
You know, I couldn’t care less about Kanye West. Why don’t you write about something that matters, Timbo? Or is that just being a tiny bit rude?
Tim, great post, but because America is a free country (as is Texas ;o)), I have the right to correct a few mistakes in your post.
Imma’ let you finish, but these things must be said…
1) At the Healthcare get-togethers, people had the right to shout down others with differing opinions because, face it, the others were wrong (duh)
2) When Congressman Joe Wilson shouting “You Lie!” during President Obama’s speech, he was badly misunderstood, but you got his actual message wrong. When Congressman Wilson awoke with a start from a deep sleep, he thought that he saw his long-lost high school sweetheart, exchange student from China Chu Lai (nonstandard transliteration, perhaps, but you get the idea). Either his ex-girlfriend actually looked like the President, which would be sad, or Mr. Wilson was sleeping much more deeply than is appropriate in a room with a joint session is in progress.
3) As for your discussion of “50 Cents,” you are even further off than you thought, dangerously far, in fact. The name is Fi’ty Cen’ .
4) As for the thank-you wave in traffic, it is not completely gone. Just last year, in Chicago, a middle-aged gentleman gave a thank-you wave to another gentleman on the way out to the airport. Unfortunately, the gentleman in the other car believed the first person was pulling a weapon, and shot him. Oh, I guess it is completely gone.
5) On Springer, the woman called the man a piece of #*&^ , not *@#%. Take care when you quote.
I have many more, but we can discuss them off-line. I melodramatically fear for the future of American communications!!!
Anyway, great post, Tim, and keep up the great work ;o)
Seth, I must applaud you on your investigative journalism skills. You make outstanding points in every case, and I must, being from Seattle, where it is impolite not to thank people for correcting them, THANK YOU for pointing out the error of my ways. And I can’t believe my typo in the comment about the Springer show. Of course I should have caught that I wrote *@#% when as you rightly pointed out, she actually said #*&^. Please forgive my journalist sloppiness. – tj