Mr. West, Genius

 

So, I love Kanye West. I guess  he’s not that popular which actually seems to have more to do with him being rude to Taylor Swift than being generally  bombastic and absurd. I mean, he is obnoxious for sure. I personally don’t really care. (Remember the Rolling Stones? Bombastic and absurd is the point of rock ‘n’ roll, dudes).

So what if he’s a little ridiculous? He told W. what was what, his foundation provides music production opportunities to underserved youth, his rhymes are fantastic and smart, his Twitter feed is hilarious and he is as innovative and masterful in his personal style as he is on his albums.

 

 

The trailer above is the short form version of his full length film, “Runaway,” which I suggest you watch if you have thirty spare minutes because it’s amazing. Though it falls flat in some places (the acting), I love how present Kanye’s asthetic sensibility is throughout. The film is a hallucinatory comment on the worst parts of humanity: the haters, the hypocrites, the desire to try to change “anything that’s different.” Kanye falls in love with a beautiful phoenix/lady hybrid who falls from the sky. So queer, Kanye!

 

Kanye's Love Interest--A Phoenix/Woman

 

The color palette oscillates between black and white (SYMBOLIC) in terms of the clothes and interiors and gorgeous scenes of deer and the phoenix/lady hybrid shot during magic hour in green pastures. Additionally, it opens with Kanye careening through a forest in a crazy superhero-esque sports car as the Phoenix falls from the sky and crashes spectacularly into his windshield. If this sounds insane, it is. Which is why you should watch it.

 

 

Mr. West has famously long been a fan of fashion, but his style has always been about more than just  flash–it’s an integrated aspect of his art. In “Runaway,” Kanye’s bone-colored tux distinguishes him from his human counterparts, which is an excellent and subtle touch.

 

Kanye's bone colored tux and hand tied bow tie

 

My personal theory about this film is that the phoenix represents Kanye’s vulnerable side. He often swings wildly between ballsy (and nutty) proclamations of his brilliance and heartbreaking drilled-down confessionals (see: his entire last album). I think a big part of why he feels so oppressed by his critics/the media/haters/etc. is that he’s a sensitive art school dropout who’s baring his soul and doesn’t understand why people have to be such  jerks. He even admitted recently that he contemplated suicide after his mother died, his fiancée left him and he became a national pariah. Maybe I’m projecting, but the moment where one of the dinner guests says, “Your girlfriend’s really beautiful. Do you know she’s a bird?” Kanye’s face fall looks genuine. Why can’t people just love themselves/love who they love, man? I KNOW, KANYE!

I digress. When not rocking a tux in “Runaway,” Kanye wears a dressed-down-yet-elegant look that ties in nicely with the black tie moments. His ability to take something classic and make it cool and refined is remarkable:

 

Look at those shoes!

 

Something else that I really appreciate about Mr. West is his ability to work with what he’s got. He’s not the most handsome man in the world but he knows how to accentuate his best qualities and downplay his deficits. For example, he has kind of a hangdog face somehow (his jaw, maybe?), and I think wearing a beard looks good on him. Also, Scott Schumen at the Satorialist often makes him take off his sunglasses, which leaves him kind of exposed. It’ s a good look for him:

 

From the Satorialist

 

In fact, Mr. Schumen and Mr. West seem to have a bit of a soul connection. I love this photograph of Kanye from the Milan men’s show in 2009:

 

 

Are those DRIVING GLOVES?! All I want in this world right now are driving gloves. I mean, and world peace. And a book deal.

Speaking of:

 

 

I love the long hair, the elegant lines, and the gloves the gloves the gloves.

Though he might not realize it, his particular exaltation of all things outsider and creative, his love of fashion, his rebellion and his heart, make him emblematic of all I love about queer culture. So, thank you, Mr. West. You are one of us, I don’t care what anyone says. I salute you.

About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here: www.thomaspagemcbee.com

2 comments

  1. Ricky Tucker

    The “hangdog” expression was something I’d gathered looking at the West photos above, then you mentioned it. SO TRUE.

    Never mind Swift (you know how I feel about “Single Ladies), what bugs me about him are the bragadocious rants and tepid rhymes. Still, I take that for granted with other rappers. It’s what they do. With him it seems like he’s trying to say it enough to make it tangible and when you view him as a put upon outsider, it becomes less annoying and makes more sense.

    Thanks for putting it so well. ps. Beats are undeniable. His palette too.

  2. Michelle Tea

    I love Kanye West and I love Page McBee!!!! I don’t get why everyone is so MAD at him about that Taylor Swift debacle – she is as dull as a music industry award show, and his freakout was the most interesting thing that could have happened. I love your psychological analysis of him – I think you’re right! Famous people are sensitive people, too! And he wrote that super sappy, sincere song about his mom, and then she died! Give a guy a break! Goldigger and Stronger are two of the best songs ever recorded and he always looks hot. Period.

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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