Class Follow-Up: Kanye West Interview Story

Here’s a dialogue between two web editors that was just published on The Atlantic. They rehearse many of the same points that we discussed in class, and also pull in some of discussions from across social media. It takes up some of the questions about celebrity, genius, and being in public. It’s worth a look if you’re interested in the story.

Kanye West performing "New Slaves" on Saturday Night Live, May 19, 2013. (Photo: NBC)

Kanye West performing “New Slaves” on Saturday Night Live, May 19, 2013. (Photo: NBC)

It also highlights the usefulness of having a more expansive language for describing the relationship between ideology, celebrity, and the relationship between culture and society. Much of this is about Kanye as a individual and how people respond to that, but it is – as I mentioned in class – worth thinking about this in relation to concepts like Richard Dyer’s description of the relationship between stars and ideology in Stars (1979) and Heavenly Bodies (2003). His discussion of stars as structured collections of signs helps see how a celebrity can be both an individual and an ideological production.

There’s also something to be said for introducing the ideas of Bourdieu about cultural capital to help understand why Kanye is parodied in the way he is and why his ideas about the critique of classism are often dismissed as “rants.” If you’re interested, I recommend you take a look at Carl Wilson’s fantastic book about Celine Dion Let’s Talk about Love: A Journey to the End of Taste (here’s a review).