Kanye West Innovates With “Runaway” Full-Length Musical Film = Cultural Studies Observation

*Warning: Explicit language in the video (whatever that means…)…it’s all relative, really…

Irrelevant of what you personally think about Kanye West, you can’t ignore his genius.  Look at this 30 minute film for instance.  The entire premise revolves around the way society at large has chastised/ostracized Kanye for everything from his statements that, “Bush doesn’t care about black people” and interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA award acceptance.  Only Kanye could make a video saying, “first rule in this world baby, don’t pay attention to anything you see in the news” as an encompassing maxim for the rest of world to live by when hearing the most recent news about West himself.  I feel like the video serves dual purposes.  The first is an overall analysis of how society at large has a hard time accepting anything that varies from how it sees itself. Secondly, I feel like the video is an attempt at self-deprecating his past tirades and provides a peace-offering indicating that he is attempting to become a better person…but only if our culture also attempts to become more accepting.

Call me crazy, but dude is a genius no matter how you judge him. He pushes the limits and is always trying to innovate.  I guess Kanye makes sense to me because I understand how to interpret him.  I once watched an interview of him before his first album came out (when he was not so famous) in which he stated that his goal was to speak for the culture and to say things that the youth/others wanted to say but couldn’t.  Considering that point of view, I think most things Kanye has done make some sort of sense.  If he truly is doing what he thinks the majority of culture wants to, but can’t, then it makes sense where the pent-up angst and less conventional actions come from. I think if this is true, then we need to question where we are at as a society.  If culture is a mirror and Kanye is attempting to make art from that reflection, then we should probably be shaking the finger at ourselves rather than at Kanye…and I think that’s what he is saying in Runaway…As easy as he could deflect the criticism pointed at him, he has chosen to analyze his situation as a microcosm of the culture he’s in. He’s representing everything we don’t collectively like about ourselves.

Take the song ‘Runaway’ for example.  The chorus is, “let’s have a toast for the douchebags, let’s have a toast for the assholes, let’s have a toast for the scumbags, every one of them that I know, let’s have a toast for the jerkoffs, that’ll never take work off, baby I got a plan, run away as fast as you can”. (“never take work off” is a reference to his song ‘Welcome to Heartbreak’ where Kanye describes the negative effects of stardom – embed below).  To fill you in a bit, many people have been calling Kanye these types of names in the media for the last year since the Taylor Swift debacle, so, what does Kanye do? Well, he writes a song acknowledging (not denying) his actions and sort of poking fun of it in a sign of maturation.

Call me crazy, but most celebrities and public figures would never dare say/do the types of things Kanye does. From self-deprecation in songs, to standing up for what he believes. He is an innovator, both culturally and musically.

Three very intelligent and articulate music videos by Kanye:

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~ by Adam Maikkula on October 26, 2010.

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