Paris Hilton, who was at one time only "famous for being famous" (a Times reporter noted) has joined a campaign to shut down an abusive school in Utah. Hilton, along with other so-called troubled teenagers, has blown the whistle on the punish-teens-for-profit philosophy that has bilked concerned parents out of millions and done nothing to benefit their children.
I bring this up not to underscore that problem but to point out that people can develop and rise above their former selves–that publicity hounds can change and even become valuable members of society.
If that theory is correct, Kanye West may still be salvaged, although his recent errant footsteps into religion and politics may not be retraceable.
West, who now prefers to be called Ye, is the saddest of sad cases—a brilliant artist who could let his accomplishments do the talking but insists on muddling every conversation with inane observations and goofball theories.
In a world of whacked-out conspiracists like Lauren Boebert, who wishes Qanon was real, and Marjorie Taylor Green, who already believes it's all true, making headlines can be difficult. What's left for any self-respecting publicity hound? Maybe a junket to the Tucker Carlson asylum for an interview?
And so we now have two hours of discussion between a pseudo-journalist who has already proven that he'll do and say anything for a buck and a celebrity who has already proven he'll do and say anything for celebrity.
Now I know there'll be criticism of anyone who disparages Kanye West because he suffers from Bipolar disorder, a disease that prevents a victim from knowing where the person ends and the disorder begins. If that's true, then we can—and should—dismiss West's racist and anti-Semitic pronouncements for what they are: the ramblings of someone in the throes of an episode.
But the episodes seem of increasingly long duration, and now it's difficult to distinguish an episode from a conviction; if we are what we say, then Kanye West is a racist and an anti-Semite.
But people like Carlson and Donald Trump, and countless elected Republicans who are exploiting West's imbalance to further their own conspiracy eyewash are even sadder and more pathetic.
Our relationship with our heroes has always been problematic. Countless online editorial playlists continue to include R. Kelly's music. My first rock idol was Jerry Lee Lewis, who (in)famously married his 13-year-old cousin in the 1950s. (Not the best career move.) We have never required superhuman or angelic behavior from entertainers. But we can request a little humanity–the treatment of others as equals with shared concerns, aspirations, and joys. Even West can do that much.
So let him wear his asinine "White Lives Matter" t-shirt, and let him babble about going "death con 3" on "Jewish people." (It's def-con, by the way, Ye.) Our task is simple: ignore him.
The morally bankrupt like Carlson and Trump may find that difficult, but I think the rest of us can handle it.