KATZ: Is Kanye Connecting With The Country On Trump?
(Photo Credit: Screenshot, from Instagram)
Saturday Night Live took to the airwaves for another season this weekend. And, predictably, they did what Saturday Night Live does: They declared Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh guilty.
They mocked his defending himself, because no one gets angry when called a rapist by Senators or when USA Today suggests that he stop coaching girls basketball, insutining that he is a pedophile. They mocked his drinking beer. They mocked his calendars.
Seriously. They mocked Kavanaugh's family use of calendars, and his father's use of them as a quasi-diary. They even brought in Matt Damon to play the part of the SCOTUS nominee (which is creepy, considering what Damon probably knows and knew about Harvey Weinstein and Casey Affleck.)
But for all that SNL wants to decide that their hyper-partisan politics is what America wants, the musical guest, Kanye West, doesn't seem to buy in. West supports President Donald Trump. He likes President Trump. He wears a Make America Great Again hat, constantly. He wore one recently while wearing a sweatshirt that read, "Kaepernick," as in former NFL quarterback-turned-activist-turned-star-of-Nike-marketing Colin Kaepernick:
Hey Dad?Yes, son? How do you troll the entire world on social media? https://t.co/GE4W9T1oSv — Tony Katz (@tonykatz) September 27, 2018
On SNL, during a musical act that got cut from the show for time, West started talking about President Trump and racism. Part of it was posted to Instagram by SNL alum Chris Rock:
The blacks want always Democrats… you know it’s like the plan they did, to take the fathers out the home and put them on welfare… does anybody know about that? That’s a Democratic plan,” he continued. “There’s so many times I talk to, like, a white person about this and they say, ‘How could you like Trump? He’s racist.’ Well, uh, if I was concerned about racism I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago...You've got a situation where we've got to have a dialogue, and not a diatribe.
During it, Rock can be heard saying "Oh my God." As was reported, cast members standing behind West were rolling their eyes. But was America? Is America?
Is America rolling their eyes at Kanye West, or are they opening their eyes because of him?
Conservatives like myself, and a handful of others, understand that the way to really move a message is to be an active participant in culture; make videos, make music, make art, put on live stage shows, be teachers, be actors, create content, create platforms of all kinds. (Unfortunately, far too many conservatives think culture is playing Lee Greenwood while waving the American flag on Facebook Live.)
Kanye West is culture. Maybe he's eccentric, maybe he's erratic and maybe he's crazy. But he gets eyeballs; he gets attention and he makes news. And the news he's making - or is that spreading? - is that President Trump isn't a racist. That President Trump isn't a bad guy. That if you are black, or if you are a Democrat (or anyone else, really,) you don't have to believe what others tell you about Trump.
It's completely possible that everything we see and hear from Kanye West is nothing more than marketing for future sales and downloads. But it is undeniable that politics is downstream of culture, and a guy with 28.5 million followers on Twitter and 3.8 million followers on Instagram can connect with a lot of people through the culture.
If West connects with his followers with messages like the one he delivered on SNL, and on Instagram posts like these, maybe he can connect with the country. And if a message of "Trump isn't a racist" connects with the country, Saturday Night Live is going to have to sink to even newer lows to spread their hate.