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millions of wrongs don't make a right


[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. 


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Not watching MTV or TV much, I can not comment on the people or this particular incident. However, I do agree, sometimes we make someone a "hero" or "coward" or "bully", where in reality, it may not be truth at all. Interesting though

Zengirl - I definitely agree with your point that sometimes we (and the media in particular) make someone into something that s/he is not, simply because it's easier to put someone in a box and fit him/her into a stereotype.

Hi Dani,
I havent seen this incident play out on tv...but i know this that the media is infact very good at making or breaking someone just so that it suits their audience and increases their viewership. Anything to gain publicity. They forget that these people(celebrities) whom they talk about in whatever context are also human just like us and also feel pain. How awful i would feel if my life had to play out negatively in front of the whole world and that too for their sick entertainment. I think media should be given limits as to how much and how far they can go with their comments and so called breaking news.

I admit I was really mad when I saw what happened and tweeted a lot of negativity for Kanye :P first because of his rudeness and because I like Taylor`s music and even though I was rooting for Beyonce, I think Taylor deserved her award and she didn`t deserve to be interrupted like that. But you are totally right, we forget about the good things so easily and just focus on the bad. Sometimes these things have to happen so greater one can take place, like what Beyonce did in the end, it was beautiful and like you, gave me hope :)
Thanks for an awesome reminder!

This is so true! How quick we are to criticise and judge - we just keep the thing alive and make it even worse (and yes .. it was rude and unpleasant, but I doubt it was the worst thing that happened in the world that evening!)..

and don't get me started on Twitter.

I'm still reeling from a question I asked weeks ago on Twitter about why the demonstrations in Iran were getting so much media attention (it was a genuine question) and I got a heap of abusive Tweets (including a threat to gouge out my eyes with a stiletto heel!). I realised that Twitter was not necessarily populated by warm, peaceful, open minded people!

I'm going to have to respectfully disagree on this one. (Let me make one quick note here: Do I think 'abusing him' is a balance reaction? No. Do I think it's sad that people aren't talking about Beyonce's moment as much or Janet's tribute as much? Yes. But with that caveat, let me proceed.....;-) )

1) Kanye has a history of this type of behavior. Even before his mother died. Way before his mother died. But his comments have generally been of such a nature and about topics that people might have been frightened to 'call him out on it', so as not to be labeled a 'racist' in return, for example. So I believe this is something safe that people have taken as a 'whew, finally I can say he's a jerk' moment.

2) This is what bothers me even more. This is what 'we' do. We talk about Kanye. Before Kanye, it was....what...Jon & Kate? For some, it's a diversion from any discussion about harder topics or dealing with reality. We'd (in the universal sense) rather talk about Jon & Kate and Kanye West than deeper things. It's a growing trend that concerns me, personally. By the same token, I think there are those who are just having a little fun with it and it's a bit of a 'silly release' -- and that's okay. But for those who take it too seriously? Hmmm.

3) (And this is the biggest one.) There are people who look up to Kanye West who are now receiving the message that this type of behavior is not okay. But more than that, Kanye is receiving the message that this is not okay. If, and I agree that he probably does have a problem for which he needs help.....but if he needs help, this reaction may be the thing that helps him see that and finally get the help he needs.

And it might take just the 'overly-strong' reactions to get him to hear the message and seek the help he needs. It might, actually, turn out to be good for him in the long run. We won't know for a while.

That's my take, anyway.

All the best!

Research has shown that people focus a lot more on negative experiences, but that positive experiences are many times more powerful than negative. Today in the Netherlands (where I come from) we had the annual presentation of the government budget and the accompanying speech was so negative and pessimistic.. How can this inspire and engage people to look out and work for a brighter future?

Zeenat - Absolutely! The media can take one incident and make it the defining moment of a person's life in the spotlight. While I'm all for the freedom of speech, I think it would be benefit us all to recognize that celebrities are people and that they have feelings, make mistakes, and deserve privacy just like the rest of us.

Rosa - Mee too! I was horrified that he would do that to poor Taylor, regardless of whether or not she should have won the award. My first thoughts were definitely filled with anger and hatred, which is unfortunate. It was only last night, when I was watching Kanye on Leno, that I realized that all of this negativity doesn't make anything better. What Beyonce did was wonderful and it would be great if we could all focus more on that positive aspect of humanity instead of Kanye's (drunken?) outburst.

Ian - Yes, we are so quick to judge others (and I was one of the ones judging at first so I can relate to that feeling), but it really doesn't do anyone any good to point fingers and name call. How interesting that we're all taught NOT to do that when we're children, but then it's somehow okay when we're adults... Thanks for sharing your Twitter experience. It just goes to show how out of context things can be taken and how vicious people can be for no reason.

Deb - Thanks for your comment! I'm glad to see you have a differing opinion about this post. (1) I agree; I think a lot of hostility towards Kanye was building up and people seized this moment to vent their frustrations about his behavior. I do not think his behavior now (or ever) is excusable, but I do think he must have some sort of psychological issues that need to be dealt with. (2) I also agree with this. When we focus so much on the lives of celebrities rather than discussing bigger, more meaningful issues, we are perpetuating a society of voyeurism and criticism (aka, negativity). It is no surprise to me that celebrities act out sometimes because who wouldn't if put in their shoes? Society has created this culture of judgment and that makes it very hard for anyone following celebrities not to take this stuff so seriously. In addition, with the creation of ever-expanding social media, celebrities are so much more accessible, giving the general public the idea that they "know" them and can become involved in their lives via commenting on their actions and choices. The celebrity-centered culture is filled with negativity and I think we could all benefit from its absence in society. (3) I also agree with this point! It's important for those who look up to Kanye to realize that his behavior is not acceptable and I do hope this situation helps Kanye (and others) to seek help for whatever types of issues they are dealing with internally. Kanye's behavior is in no way acceptable and I don't approve of what he did AT ALL, but I also can't say that verbally shunning him and lashing out in anger is the best way to deal with the situation. There are more positive ways to help someone like Kanye understand the consequences of his actions. Thanks for your comment, Deb! You definitely got me thinking about this in a different way...

Interesting post Dani. I just got a glimpse of the speech on Youtube, and I was pretty shocked at how bad it was. I think you are right though that people have such a tendency to focus on the negative. Given how much people seem to be obsessed with the negative it just goes to prove the point that the media definitely is obsessed with selling us negativity.

Nicely put! Given Kanye's other outbursts I think the guy has some serious issues he's dealing with and being a public figure has given him a chance to spout without thinking and that unfortunately get s the media (and therefore us as consumers) all riled up and ready to run him through with pitchforks.

Personally, I really wish people would focus on what Beyonce did, remembering what it was like to be 17 and win her first award and she asked Taylor to come on stage and savor her moment.

Beyonce is a class act...and Taylor will long remember what Beyonce did and forgive Kanye for his complete and total brain fart.

Sietse - Yep, I was just reading about that, how people always tend to focus on the negative. In the book I talked about yesterday, it gave the example of drivers. We always notice people who cut us off or speed, but we never say, "Wow, look at that great driver! S/he is driving the speed limit and obeying all the laws!" In general people really do focus on the negative (as you mentioned in the speech situation) and it's not a very healthy way to live life.

Srinivas - It was pretty terrible what he did, but people really do focus so much more on the negative. I agree that media sells negativity. After all, if we didn't focus on the negative, what would need all of those commercials for? We're fed negativity and then supposed to buy products/experiences/etc. to deal with painful stomach ache negative thoughts leave us with. Great point about negativity in the media in general!

Alex - I agree with the fact that people were probably already unhappy with Kanye's behavior and this just gave people a chance to lash out in anger at him. We are definitely consumers of the media, but it's important that we take a step back and look at what they are emphasizing (negativity) because it's not always what we want to be buying...

Peggy - Me too! Beyonce was so generous and thoughtful and just this morning I was thinking about how she made a much bigger impact doing that kind thing for Taylor than she ever would have made if she simply accepted her award. Just thinking about the fact that she will be known for such a kind act brings a smile to my face and inspires me to be kinder to others.

In reference to your awesome post, Dani, I like this quote by Mark Twain (and it appears Taylor Swift has a great opportunity ahead of her): “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain

Kanye did everyone a favor by acting like himself. He has given Taylor the chance to learn and grow, Beyonce the chance to act benevolently, and us the opportunity to recognize that negative begets negative. We need to rise above.

Kayne needs help. I think the guy has major anger and ego issues. As others have said, he has done this type of behavior before. I really felt sorry for Taylor, and I'm glad that Beyonce gave her a chance to speak.

It is sad all the way around.

Speaking of apologies, I just wrote a blog post on that very subject:

Maybe Kanye needs to take note. :)

Nice post Dani!


At one time or another in probably all of our lives, we have done something we regret with all of our heart. That one incident alone does not define us. People are horrendous in their judgments and attacks of this televised debachal - let it go already!

Megan - What a great quote -- and a great message -- in you comment! We need to realize, as you said, that we can rise above negativity. Just because Kanye's actions were negative doesn't mean that our reactions must be negative as well.

Dayne - I agree that Kayne must have some sort of issues that he needs to sort out and that's not for us to judge or criticize. We all have issues! ;) I think that post you wrote is fantastic and I wish Kanye would read it because I don't think any of his apologies came off as very sincere.

Hi Dani! I too noticed all the negative comments towards Kanye's actions. We all know he messed up and so does he. He acknowledged it and has apologized for it. Sometimes we forget that the rich and famous are also human and that they're also entitle to mess up just like the rest of us. I'm sure this was a learning experience for him and the rest involved. Let's get pass this and let's try not to be so judgmental. We all make mistakes!

You make a great devil's advocate!!! I will be honest...I was thinking not so nice things about Kanye. You are right about somethings...he should not be vilified. But...I think he knows better too. He knows that getting on stage and steeling Taylor's moment is wrong. He knows that binge drinking will probably result in something bad. I agree that we should all judge less. I am thinking that Kanye will be heading to rehab at some point to resolve some issues...

Never before have I re-tweeted something so quickly! Thanks, Dani. Great job!

Suzen - I agree completely. We've all done things (sometimes many things!) that we regret afterward. It's pretty vicious the way some people are acting and I agree 100% with what you said "Let it go already!"

Mary - More often than not, celebrities are treated as if they are characters instead of people, which has to be very hard for them. I don't agree with what Kanye did, but I think it's important not to judge him too harshly. After all, who are we to judge another's mistakes?

Caroline - Hahaha, I know! I agree that Kanye knows better and should have behaved differently, but I don't think judging him or treating him (or anyone!) harshly makes the situation any better. Completely agree that Kanye should look into rehab of some sort and deal with whatever pain he's suffering from.

Michelle - Awesome! :) I'm so glad you liked it enough to tweet it. I appreciate that!!

Hi Dani. I couldn't agree with you more! I wonder why we tend to focus on the negativity? It's like a magnet that draws us in. I suppose it's because we are born with a nature that is by default happy and anything else that conflicts with it, demands our attention. Trouble is, we get all caught up in it with judgment and it becomes a perpetual cycle.

Well said! It is amazing how quickly and how cruelly people around the world respond to incidents like this but with such blind ignorance to their own behaviour - it's so easy to point fingers isn't it?
Thanks for throwing a more positive (and 'enlightened') light onto the whole matter.

Dani, what bothers me is the type of heated words and mean speak goes way beyond celebrities and their antics. It seems to be pervasive in our life today. If someone does something that you don't like, then spread lies or spew hate. If someone has a different viewpoint from another, then make up something that will discredit them. These are times when people are acting out their fear, anxiety, and anger. I hope that we will come to our senses and realize hatred and resentment are dangerous emotions.

Davina - Negativity is definitely a magnet that draws us toward it... I'm not sure exactly why that is, but your reasoning sounds pretty good to me. Judgment is one of the major problems because when we judge ourselves and others we are constantly creating more negativity in the world.

Kathleen - It really is so easy to point fingers, to quickly get angry at Kanye but to ignore the real reasons for our judgments. Not that I think Kanye was justified in his behavior, but I know that all of the anger that came out of this situation (even a cruel word from the President!) isn't helpful.

Syd - That really bothers me too, the way anger and meanness are so pervasive in the world today. Just look at the news... It's terribly sad (and negative) most of the time. If we take a look around, most people are really working with closed minds, not willing to accept people or situations that are different. As you noted, when people encounter differences or things they can't understand, they react with anger for the most part. I agree -- I hope people begin to realize the true danger of negative emotions.

Yup, sometimes it's so easy to judge another person's mistake and forget we are doing the same thing we despised! Thanks for the reminder here ;-)

Heya Dani!

You know, I had no idea the VMA's were on and what happened, I guess I should pay more attention to big media events:P

One day you'll see me up on that stage! hehe

I personally love Kanye's music, but don't know too much about him personally. I'd say that was a crappy thing of him to do, maybe he was drunk or really didn't like that girl?

I think it's pretty stupid of people to stop supporting someone's music because of that, but it would be wrong to encourage those kind of stunts also!

Thanks for sharing

It's a great reminder that everybody has flaws and that people do great things. You can find one or the other and perfection is a myth that works better in fairy tales than in real life. It's also a reminder that you get what you focus on.

Exactly! It's so much easier to pay attention to the negative instead of working towards the positive. I thought it was very sweet of Beyonce to give Taylor time to finish her acceptance speech. Also, I think this incident has been blown out of proportion at this point. Beyonce corrected the wrong by having Taylor come up during her speech and that should be the end. Sadly, the media is having a frenzy over this. And it shall continue to be blown out of proportion until they've squeezed out all the life it has.

I Take Off the Mask - So true! We can often be quick to judge someone for being mean without even considering that we might be being mean as well.

Diggy - Haha, I don't know if I'd call the VMAs a big media event, but it certainly turned into one (with even the President commenting on Kanye!). I think Kanye is great at what he does musically, but he definitely seems to have some issues he needs to work through (but don't we all!). What's really important is to consider how he could have handled the situation differently as well as to think about how the public could have handled it differently as well!

J.D. - So true... we are all flawed in some way and we all have the ability to make mistakes. And great point about looking at this as a reminder of how we can choose what we focus on -- positive or negative!

Marci - It's definitely easier to pay attention to the negative things, but we do have the choice to tune in to the positive (as you did by bringing up the sweet way that Beyonce acted!). The situation was absolutely blown out of proportion, which is another thing we should all look at when discussing this situation. Why does the media focus so much on this? And, consequently, why does the general public?

You can also view every moment as another opportunity to love and forgive unconditionally. From this view, right and wrong do not exist. Everyne and everything is a mirror of your inner self. You either accept or reject all you ar or not.

Liara - What a great point. Every moment is a chance for love and forgiveness and we didn't see much of love and forgiveness in this situation. Very interesting point about how, if we live our lives from a place of unconditional love, there is no right and wrong.

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