Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesdays with Marty: 9/22/09

Note: Tuesdays with Marty is a recurring segment on Et tu, Mr. Destructo? highlighting the opinions of our publisher, Marty Peretz. Mr. Peretz wishes to make it absolutely clear that he is neither responsible nor liable for any content in this site, including but not limited to words, ideas, images, and things implied by said means of communication, in addition to other forms of communication not involving the above methods, whether established or theoretical in nature.

Hating: Louder than the Wall of Sound

I would have liked to begin this column and this partnership on a more pleasant subject. Quite to the contrary, however, there is a pressing injustice on my mind which I simply cannot, will not shake. You see, the greatest burden of knowledge and experience is continual, even chronic disappointment. Walter Benjamin once astutely defined boredom as "the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience." I am experienced.

And I have rarely felt such thorough kinship with my dream bird as I did this past Sunday, watching the 2009 Annual Video Music Awards. As always, Kanye was dead right: Beyonce was robbed on that stage, and, as always, the VMA blithely perpetuated its policies of myopic, weak-wristed arbitrariness and anti-crunk bigotry, this time against what was, beyond any rational deniability, the single most bomb-ass video of the year.

I wish this were something new, but this is not anything new. Under the guise of impartiality and judgmental distance, the Music Video Television (MTV) has long perpetrated a single-minded agenda against Kanye, and his allies. This is only the most recent example. In 2006, Kanye’s "Touch the Sky" music video was savagely denounced by the Europeans of the MTV Europe VMAs as not being the single most awesome album that year, which is patently false. That video was the most awesome shit ever.

As always, Kanye made the all too rare commitment of actually standing for something, of being more than a mere entertainer, and instead chose the higher calling of being an artist. His right to spin those freshest of flows is more than a right to him, however important rights may be, and certainly more than some trifling privilege subject to the whims of fans or producers or a record label. Kanye jams because he must, because that is who he is. He is crunk, and he will not be made ashamed, or made to apologize by anyone. He jumped a rocket plane over a canyon.

Whatever the original moral impetus behind the formation of MTV, these days its operations have nothing to do with showing music videos, or defending the essential right of legitimate music videos to exist. This is undeniable. What was once supposed to be a champion of artists and a guardian of the format has become a cynical tool in the toolbox of unscrupulous pretenders, hacks and phonies. It is a just as anti-democratic as it is lame as hell. Kanye’s fierce, brave moral stand draws the rot of MTV to him with especially sticky thickness and furor.

But the fans of other artists must beware that if Kanye should ever be allowed to fall, the tragedy will not be limited to his own discography. There are no insular, truly isolated battles in the global struggle against haters. And the abandoned Kanye of yesterday is only a stepping stone to the next victim, just as with despotic communism decades before. The day after Kanye falls, God forbid, is the day in which nothing and no one is safe, when even the Wu-Tang Clan’s very existence is called into question, and the Wu-Tang secret is exposed.

There is no compromise, and no peace possible with those who would shut Kanye down. Respect that truth, because a compromise here will only win you a peace treaty with haters and bitches.

— Marty Peretz