‘Ye’ or nay?

Basically everyone with internet access knows about the most recent scandal surrounding Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West. Due to various antisemitic remarks made by the controversial artist, Adidas cut ties with Ye. To say the least, I am not surprised. Disappointed, maybe, but not surprised in the slightest. Ye has been on a downward spiral since his infamous bid for attention at the MTV Video Music Awards of 2009, where he stole the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech for winning Best Video by a Female Artist. At that time, people just labeled him as a typical egotistical celebrity and rolled with it, quietly dismissing his behavior as eccentric or even humorous. However, I don’t think his actions, which have only gotten progressively worse over the years, can or should be dismissed anymore. We cannot continue to accept bad behavior from public figures simply because they are rich. Ye is a deeply unwell man who needs help, and accountability should be the first step towards healing.
Though his first big scandal happened at those 2009 VMAs, many of the escalations in Ye’s behavior began around the time of the Trump presidency. He openly voiced his support for Donald Trump and even made a strange bid for the presidency himself, gunning for office in the 2020 election with virtually no success. Since then, he has only sunk deeper into far-right ideologies, but these views are not entirely new for him, as he commented back in 2018 that he believed slavery was a choice.
It was at the time of his brief presidential run that I believe one of his most upsetting and concerning actions took place: Ye broke down in tears on stage during a campaign speech and shouted about almost aborting his first child, North West. After watching that video for the first time back in 2020, I couldn’t help but wonder how his daughter would feel when she saw it and had to hear her father yell “I almost killed my daughter!” to a shocked audience. I imagine that her mother, Kim Kardashian, would do everything in her power to keep the viral video from her, but unfortunately, those that lead celebrity lifestyles have little control over what they’re exposed to.
Though it’s up for debate whether his actions are a cry for attention or a cry for help, it is unacceptable to drag his own child into it, especially in such a volatile and damaging way. Whether he is aware of it or not, I believe that his words will affect North for the rest of her life.
This is not the only way that he has caused irreparable damage to his family. During his divorce from Kardashian, he exhibited some extremely concerning behavior that was abusive in nature. Despite the glaringly obvious warning signs, his actions were generally dismissed by the public. He would start fights with Kardashian’s then-boyfriend, Pete Davidson, and would make ominous and threatening statements about him on social media, even encouraging hatred towards the comedian from his own fan base. He would even go so far as to post screenshots of private text messages from Kardashian and Davidson, both of whom regularly pleaded with him to consider how his actions would affect all of their lives, especially the lives of his own children.
Ye seemed to think that he and his wife would eventually get back together, as he outright denied the divorce initially, tried to win her back through grand romantic gestures, alarmingly purchased the house across the street from her and even implied that Pete Davidson was the one at fault for their separation. Luckily, this phase in Ye’s downward spiral seems to have died down. However, the damage cannot be undone. In an Instagram post which has since been deleted from his account, he shared a text message from Kim Kardashian which said, “U are creating a dangerous and scary environment and someone will hurt Pete and this will all be your fault.” You cannot come back from making a loved one fear you.
As I continue to reflect on the scandals surrounding Ye’s ongoing mental health crisis, I feel an obligation to bring up another public figure that fell from grace in the midst of their own mental health crisis: Britney Spears.
The former pop star had her own series of concerning behaviors in the late 2000s, including reckless driving, attacking paparazzi, breaking down in interviews, and shaving her head. For all of these things and more, Britney Spears became a public joke. News outlets and tabloids mocked her for years, shamelessly dragging her through the mud as the “crazy” girl who couldn’t get it together. She never got an ounce of privacy or sympathy, only ridicule and judgment. Though her mental health struggles are now recognized in 2022, the suffering that she was subjected to during the darkest times of her life will stay with her forever.
Compare that to how the public has treated Ye. His actions may be ridiculed as scandalous or “crazy” as well, but not at the same level of scrutiny as Britney Spears. It is not a coincidence that a young and vulnerable woman has faced far more consequences than a successful yet troubled man. While Spears lost everything at the time of her breakdown, Ye maintains a strong fan base of support because I believe too few people are taking his behavior seriously. Instead of being dragged through the mud, he’s being brushed off as another oddball celebrity that’s allowed to do and say whatever he wants. But we need to start recognizing what is happening.
Ye is self-destructing. He needs help. But that does not mean that his actions and words should go without consequence. Though his deeply disturbing behavior can be explained by his ongoing mental health struggles, it does not excuse the path of destruction he is continuing to forge. Explanation is not justification. Ye needs help. But first, he needs to be held accountable for the damage he has done.