Kanye needs help, not a public platform
Back in October of 2018, music and fashion mogul Kanye West took a trip to the Oval Office, ostensibly to discuss criminal justice reform with the president. What happened instead was a three-ring circus in front of rolling cameras and millions of television viewers at home.
West veered from one unrelated topic to the next, while a slightly uncomfortable President Trump sat looking on, at times trying to steer him back to the preferred goal for the public event (which was ultimately to praise Trump).
Some people found the spectacle amusing, others a wild kind of performance art by a publicity-starved “artiste,” not unlike the kinds of stunts Trump himself would pull before becoming president.
But I found it sad and deeply disturbing. Here was clearly an unwell man and a president who was willing to exploit his illness for the faint praise of a popular Black celebrity. The whole thing made me queasy.
West has been forthcoming about his mental illness and past episodes. He has said he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has admitted to abusing painkillers, and says his wife Kim Kardashian’s robbery in Paris and his feud with friend and rapper Jay-Z contributed to a well-publicized 2016 nervous breakdown. To his credit, his open and frank discussions about his mental health have likely prompted many others to seek help for their own issues.
But knowing all that we do about West’s fragile mental state, his latest publicity stunt, a half-hearted run for president, feels all the more disturbing.
Initially, some speculated it was merely part of a ploy to promote a new album, given how rushed and unprepared the upstart “campaign” is.
Others believe it’s actually a form of spiritual proselytizing, inspired by his proposed “running mate,” a “Biblical Life Coach” named Michelle Tidball, who lives near West in Wyoming.
Others still think it’s merely entertainment. One Twitter user posted of his first rally, “I went for a laugh and I got one,” before leaving offended.
But it’s hard to see this as anything other than a very sad public breakdown.