Gone to hell in a Tweetbasket

America, it’s official: we’ve all turned stupid.

Can someone, anyone, explain to me why there’s such an outrage over the whole Kanye West vs. Taylor Swift incident at the Video Music Awards?

It’s not as if this is important. Frankly, more than 48 hours later, it’s not even interesting. Kanye always has and always will be a man with an ego. We get it.

Now get over it.

Sure, what he did was rude, but does it still need to dominate the news? Did it ever?

Simply put, no.

But we now live in a pop culture-obsessed society, one in which every trivial detail of celebritydom must be analyzed ad nauseum, with every Tom, Dick or Harry Knowles weighing in to give an opinion.

Is it possible, Americans, to go back to carrying about important issues like politics and religion (and to do so in a way that’s beyond yelling at everyone who might happen to disagree with your stance)?

Probably not.

Times have changed.

Technology is ruining us.

Stupid Twitter.

Do you realize that if today’s tweet-obsessed culture existed in the mid-1770s, we’d not have a free country?

JAdamsFamily: OMG! Did u c the size of Hancock’s signature? GWash will be PIZZED!!!

I think I’m going to move out of America — I’m heading to Texas …

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13 thoughts on “Gone to hell in a Tweetbasket

  1. (Cory likes your post)

    The entire generation of twittering, Facebooking, MySpacing youth (of which I am, apologetically, an addict (minus the youth)) are creating a rather terrifying society. I have no problem with social networking sites, but the egomaniacal nature of the entire process is a little frightening. In my early 20’s, the inane details of my life never seemed interesting enough to share with people, but thanks to these things it seems perfectly reasonable to inform the world that I’m “in the grocery store” or “about to take a nap.”

    Like it or not, Kanye West is the perfect logical extension of this entire mindset. The desire to say exactly what’s on your mind at any moment without a filter can/will/should get each of us in trouble, and Kanye’s behavior is really nothing more than a real-life tweet.

    What I find most interesting is the country’s reaction to Mr. West’s outburst. Sure, it was completely inappropriate, but is this level of outrage really justified for an awards show? I haven’t seen Taylor Swift’s video, I haven’t seen Beyonce’s video, as Nathan and I discussed on Monday, I can’t remember the last video that I actually saw (that wasn’t some old school jam on YouTube). With all that’s going on in the world, is this really a big deal?

    I think you have to look at what may be going on under the surface here. Is it society’s desire to protect the young white girl from the older, scarier black man? You may think that I’m arbitrarily pulling the race card (something that I never do), but it certainly doesn’t seem to add up. When the Beastie Boys rushed the stage to protest an award at the VMA a few years ago (when MTV was certainly more popular), no one complained. In fact, it’s regarded as a “classic” moment in VMA history and treated as something wacky and funny that “only MTV would do!” When the Soy Bomb guy jumped on Dylan’s performance, it received the same reception. So, when Kanye West does what amounts to the same thing, it somehow stops being funny and starts requiring a media tour of apologies?

    I don’t know if it’s sexism, racism or just plain dislike for Kanye West, but his behavior is not unprecedented while the reaction certainly is. I don’t see it as the media’s desire to protect women from aggressive men, as Janet Jackson didn’t get the same treatment. I guarantee that if you polled the nation, of the people who remembered Jackson’s breast being exposed during the Super Bowl half-time show, less than half could tell you who actually did the exposing. Justin Timberlake, arguably the biggest pop star alive, exposed a woman’s breast on national television yet it somehow became her fault.

    Is this because Jackson and West don’t quite look like Timberlake and Swift? I can’t say for sure. But in a world where mainstream media figures use words like “thug,” “racist” and “welfare” to describe the President of the United States (nah, those aren’t code words, I’m just being paranoid), I’m pretty much willing to believe anything.

  2. I’m not sure why Kevin’s backlash against the system happened now, and I’m not even sure he isn’t being a bit facetious here, but in any case I think the ever increasing connectedness of our society is the beginning of a major cultural shift, the ramifications of which deserve serious study. Unfortunately sociologists of today seem to be more concerned with how new technology affects existing social structures rather than recognizing that new social structures are being created. The sheer volume of interpersonal information being passed actually affects the way the communicators concceive the world, with negative and positive consequences. One inherent problem in the new system is that bad information is passed as quickly as good information. Little to no qualification exists in the information passed through these social networks. That leaves an opening for the information to be manipulated by stakeholders who may not have the best interests of the communicators at heart. It might be viral marketing where a product is being hawked, or it might be something more sinister, like lies told by subversive political interests. All of it passes from person to person with the implicit understanding that if the receiver of the communication receives it from his peer group as a fact or as the “best” opinion, he had best get on board as well.

  3. I think you’ve addressed something very important, Brinton. While blogs and alternative media can offer a valid rebuttal to what we hear on the six o’clock news, they can just as easily offer lies and garbage. There is nothing preventing Kevin from inventing a story on this very blog involving Keith Olbermann strangling kittens. Once that story is picked up by another blog and eventually sent via email chain and Facebook status to hundreds of other people, it somehow becomes “fact” to many people. Weeks later, Keith Olbermann is required to publicly swear that he has never murdered a kitten, while thousands of blog junkies refuse to accept his statement.

    In this way, I feel that the internet has made each of us just a little bit dumber than we were before it was born. We no longer have to look to genuine intellectuals for information or advice on the world around us, we can simply Google the advice of anyone capable of setting up a WordPress or Blogger account. Things like Wikipedia are now being cited in term papers, theses and even courtrooms… give me half an hour and I’ll use that “source” to prove that Brinton is actually an alien.

    So, you’re absolutely correct in saying that this new form of technology isn’t just part of a new type of society, it’s actually creating one. Kids today are bombarded with Perez Hilton, 4chan and limitless kinds of perversion while their parent sits just on the other side of the wall. Quietly they’re learning that celebrity is the ONLY thing that matters in life, and that celebrities are drug-addicted actors in amateur sex tapes. It’s all becoming increasingly evident not only in the behavior of young people (which is somehow worse than it was when I was in high school… a fact that I just can’t seem to believe) as well as old people who should know better.

    Sarah Palin doesn’t grant interviews these days, instead she espouses her viewpoints via Facebook. The real danger here is that it creates an echo chamber for a certain viewpoint. Between Fox News, Facebook, talk radio and twitter (this could also be reversed to include MSNBC and HuffPo, although the spread of left-wing media is far, far smaller) someone can live in a world where differing viewpoints never reach their ears unless they are being shouted down (selectively) by the propagandist in charge. Because of this “new media,” honesty is trampled and spin is the new king.

    If you think it’s bad now, wait until the next generation becomes a congressman, CEO, newscaster or editor.

  4. I think the whole damn thing was staged.

    Kanye gets free publicity for his appearance on Jay Leno’s new show and for whatever he’s plugging on that show (b/c who would buy Kanye’s crap unless he behaved like a douchetard before it dropped?) Jay Leno gets viewers to his “new” show, which is just his old show one hour sooner (b/c making the same jokes for a week at 10 instead of 11 needs something to bring viewers to it). Taylor Swift gets sympathy and becomes a household name (b/c she’s not just The Girl Whose Eyes Are Set Too Far Apart anymore). And Beyonce gets to be the class act with the whole invite-her-back-onstage bit (b/c she’s been wearing her mom’s skanky clothing for far too long and she needed an injection of class.) And MelodramaTV got publicity as well. Everyone wins!

  5. Well, a few corrections:

    1. Kanye wasn’t on Jay Leno’s show to promote any product of his own. Kanye, along with Rhianna, were guests of Jay-Z during the musical performance as both of them appear on the track “Run this Town,” a track from Jay’s album he’d chosen to perform.

    2. This wasn’t a last-minute decision, and if you’d seen the interview that Leno did with Kanye West (which wasn’t a pre-arranged part of the show, but something Mr. West volunteered), you would have seen the obvious regret when Leno asked him what his mother would have thought of the display.

    3. “Who would buy Kanye’s crap unless he behaved like a douchetard before it dropped?” Are you serious? Considering that West has sold nearly 8.5 million copies of four albums (not to mention sales of records he has produced for other artists, digital downloads, etc) it’s safe to assume that plenty of people would buy “Kanye’s crap” without much hesitation.

    I disagree with his behavior, and I’d say that it’s safe to assume that the half-empty bottle of Hennessey in his hand as he walked the red carpet is a pretty clear indication of what actually led to the outburst. However, deriding him as an artist is lunacy. No one has to like his music, no one has to buy his records, but suggesting that he isn’t a remarkably talented musician just displays an ignorance of how that type of music is constructed and the tireless effort that goes into its creation.

  6. See, this is what’s wrong with rap today. It’s gotten soft.

    Allow me to explain:

    Kanye had a half-empty bottle of Hennessey in his hand.

    Back in the early 1990s, even a clown prince like Humpty Hump would drink up all the Hennessey you got on your shelf, all before even bothering with formal introductions.

  7. I shared a bottle of Hennessey with my brother-in-law one time and he nearly choked me to death. Hennessey’s ad-line should be “Hennessey – So Smooth You Won’t Be.”

    As for Kanye, I’ve liked a couple of his songs and I’m not a rap fan, so he can’t be all bad, jackass or not. As for Taylor Swift, I have no judgment about her video, but I heard her sing with Def Leppard on Crossroads and was duly unimpressed. I hear she’s better with Autotune.

    I don’t wan to get too deeply into the whole “difficulty of production adds value to art” argument, since as I recall Cory and I have disagreed vehemently and come to an impasse before. But I guess if there weren’t people who believed that way, we’d have no Mount Rushmore, right?

  8. Tell you what, I’ll meet you in the middle. Go find the best producer you can find and I’ll sign on with someone who can play guitar. I’ll bet you a fortune that I can replicate what you like more quickly than you can do this:

    Oh wait, that’s all just “crap,” so I’m putting myself at an incredible disadvantage.

  9. In fact, I’ll open it up. Try these and see how much you accomplish:

    Keep strumming that guitar, there are countless Indigo Girls in search of a leader.

  10. I liked Jesus Walks a lot better before I watched that video. Just saying.

    And Cari, I never buy ANYTHING that someone will give me for free. Wait… umm, well… nevermind.

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