Controversial Kanye once again… // 02.07.16 - Georgina Barkworth

Controversial Kanye once again… // 02.07.16

Last week, Kanye West released another controversial music video showing prosthetic bodies of 12 famous faces, for his ‘famous’ video, naked. The camera roamed over the naked bodies in a grainy low quality view, bodies barely covered and controversially placed. Deemed  “brilliant and daring” by Vincent Desiderio - the artist who inspired West’s visuals with his ‘sleep’ painting- yet panned by many other critics. So what is it that makes Kanye’s latest piece of art so disputable?

'Sleep" by Vincent Desiderio
Not only the nudity featured in West’s videos, argued pornographic by some, but also the actual positioning of the figures can be argued to be controversial. We see famous figures like George Bush, Anna Wintor and Donald Trump lay alongside well –known celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner. Interestingly West chooses to place Rhianna next to her abuser Chris Brown, Kanye laid between his wife Kim K and Taylor swift , who he controversially references in his lyrics saying “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, Why? I made that bitch famous”. Kim is placed next to Ray – j, who she infamously made the sex tape with that some say made her family famous. Then we see Amber Rose lay next to Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby. Kanye argues that none of the people featured are intentionally there he just chose 12 famous people. But surely there’s a reason they’re chosen? Isn’t there a co-incidence between both Kim and Kanye’s exs being featured along with Rhianna and her abuser and Taylor swift after his interruption of her award at the 2009 VMAs? Critics have also questioned why such a figures are laid in the positions they are, suggesting a darker side to the visuals.

The most resonating point about the ‘famous’ visuals is the message behind it. The forceful message of the effect of the media on famous people reflects our obsession with celebrities. We watch over every inch of their life, having an overwhelming fascination of their lives that arguably objectifies those who are famous. As West said himself, “It’s a comment on fame.” The manipulation of the visuals shows the ruthless, boundless and invasive nature of the media. The bodies passively lying there, scrutinized in a night vision camera suggest the violation they represent. However, the message Kanye promotes is deemed “His most thought-provoking work yet” by Vanity Fair and “unsettling and brilliant” by Paper. Although I may be hesitant to say we will reform our acting as a result of west’s protest visuals; the message certainly remains in my conscience. We don’t turn an eye; we feed off the controversy and the deeper insight into their lives.

Yet, ‘Famous’ has been virally criticised for how teenage girls will react to the video. (Yes, that age old argument is back…again.) The concerns are that they won’t understand that art is controversial and won’t receive the message behind it. But this is the generation we should be targeting. Educating. Although the video suggests a darker side, to which Kanye stated that he intentionally removed all sexual references, we should face the issues presented and use them to teach the youth about society and the media.



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