[Note: This special Tuesday edition of Positively Present was inspired by the much talked about West-Swift incident that took place at MTV's Video Music Awards on Sunday night. If you missed it -- or have more of a life than I do and weren't sitting home glued to the television despite the fact that you're probably too old for MTV -- you can read up on it on Rolling Stone...]
After the past few days everyone is probably pretty sick and tired of hearing the words "Swift" and "West" in the same sentence. Everywhere I look there is something about the VMAs or Taylor Swift's botched speech or Kayne's apology or Kanye's lack of apology. What happened Sunday night seems to have made quite a splash in the world of celebrity (and mass media in general) and almost everyone seems to have an opinion on it. Well, here's mine:
Millions of wrongs don't make a right.
What am I talking about? Well, let's think about it... While intoxicated, Kayne West did a mean, senseless thing to poor Taylor Swift (who is amazing, by the way... yay, Taylor!) and suddenly millions of people have terrible things to say about Kanye. I cannot even begin to repeat some of the things I've read about him on Twitter! People suddenly despise Kayne and can't help but spew angry words about him and the incident that occurred at the VMAs. And no one is stopping to think about their own actions. How are the harsh criticisms and hateful words any worse than what Kanye did? In fact, if I recall correctly, Kanye didn't actually say anything mean about Taylor or her video. What actually happened was Kanye praised Beyonce for her video. Now, did he do this in the most inappropriate way and at the most inappropriate time? Sure. He was way out of line. But does that make calling him all of these horrible names any more acceptable? Does it really make what he did any better if millions of people verbally bash Kanye? I don't think so. We all know that two wrongs don't make a right, and I know for sure that millions of wrongs don't make it any more acceptable.
You know what I see when I look at this situation? A whole lot of negativity stemming from something that had the intention of being positive. What Kanye's intention was (or so it seemed) was to make sure the world knew how great he thought Beyonce's video was. He didn't get up on stage and say that Taylor's video was terrible. He didn't get up on stage and bash everyone who voted for Taylor. No, he got up there and proclaimed his adoration for Beyonce's video. Yes, we can all agree that it was really bad timing and certainly unfair to poor Ms. Swift who was left standing there awkward and confused, but Kanye's actions didn't seem to stem from a place of hatred for Taylor. While completely inappropriate, I don't see Kanye's actions as stemming from a place of negativity the way so many people are talking and/or writing about Kanye.
What I see when I look around is a lot of hate for someone who made a mistake. I know, it's not the first time he's done something outrageous. I know, it's not an excuse that he was intoxicated... But has anyone really stopped to look at Kanye, to wonder why it might be that he would have done something like that? Has anyone stopped to consider that he might be acting from a place of pain and hurt? After all, it wasn't all that long ago that he lost his mother. Watching him talk about her on Jay Leno's new show made me realize that he's obviously still hurting a great deal from that loss. I'm not one to excuse other's behavior, but I'm definitely against the idea of bringing more negativity into the world. What Kanye did was wrong -- no doubt about that -- but in my mind, all of this lashing out against him, all of this hate-filled language and character-assault, is not making the situation better.
In recent years, there's been the development of "teams" in Hollywood. Whenever there is a celebrity feud or dramatic situation, those who follow celebrity culture are called to take sides, to cheer for a team. Yesterday on Twitter I noticed mentions of "Team Taylor," as if there was a game going on, as if the feelings and emotions of these real people were some sort of spectator sport. Though I can't say for sure, I'm guessing Taylor was pretty upset but the situation and if the interview on the Jay Leno show was any indication, Kanye wasn't all that happy about it either. These are real, live people and, just like everyone else, they make mistakes. Just like everyone else, they feel terrible after making a terrible decision and having to live with the consequences.
I'll reiterate it one more time: I do not condone or support what Kanye did at all. But I don't support this rampant hatred of him either. One mistake does not deserve excess amounts of hatred. One scene-stealing moment does not deserve all of this negativity and anger. When I take a step back and look at it (somewhat) objectively, it's actually quite shocking how much hostility people have for Kanye (and this includes my initial reaction, which was definitely one of outrage and anger). I'm guessing that most of the people I've seen writing about him or talking about him online know next to nothing about him (or Taylor Swift), yet seem to have no trouble lashing out with angry words and unthinkable phrases. It's painful, really, to read all of the hostility and realize that all of these people have this joint hatred for someone they don't know, for a situation they probably don't fully understand.
I guess, really, this is all just a reminder for me, a reminder to be compassionate towards others. I don't believe in the "turn the other cheek" philosophy, but I'm not a fan of "eye for an eye" either. Just because Kanye acted out doesn't mean that tons of people have to act out against him. All of that negative energy going out into the world isn't helping anyone -- not Taylor, not Kanye, not us. The next time you feel anger rise up in your chest (at Kanye or at anyone whose situation you don't fully understand), stop and think. Stop and ask yourself, "What is this negativity really going to do for me or the world?"
Personally, I think it's tragic that people are focusing so much on what Kanye did (the negative) and so little on what Beyonce did (the positive). (For those who missed it, during her own acceptance speech Beyonce called Taylor Swift on stage to finish the speech that Kanye so rudely interrupted.) Out of the bad situation came some good -- one woman reaching out to another, remembering the younger version of herself who had once stood on that stage years ago accepting her first award. It was actually a very touching moment (as touching as a moment can be at a VMA show) and it truly gave me hope that there is kindness and goodness in the world. Now why isn't the world all atwitter about that? Why isn't everyone focusing on the good? Often it's easier to see what's negative and to join forces with other people and harp on those things, but in this situation it's really gotten out of hand. There is too much negativity and it's being constantly perpetuated by even more negativity. As I said before, millions of wrongs against Kanye don't make anything right for anyone (not even Taylor).
As we all know, wrongs don't make rights, and negatives don't make positives. The negativity put into the world about Kanye doesn't make what he did go away. It doesn't make anyone really feel better (though it might seem like it for a moment). Really, it does nothing. Think about it the next time you're angry for an arbitrary reason. What is that negativity doing for you? Nothing... Because, let's be honest here, lots of negatives don't make for a life positive.
If you liked this post, please spread the positivity by tweeting about it or linking to it on your social media sites.