While some are outraged by the video for “Famous,” others are heralding it as Kanye West’s ultimate visual masterpiece. But, in reality, neither reaction is an accurate one. For, you see, what West is saying doesn’t need to be conveyed in the span of a ten minute and thirty-six second video.
All he wants to tell us is what we already know: the only thing one really needs to do to achieve notoriety (which is more the thing these days than fame) in the twenty-first century is lie on one’s back and get fucked by whoever they happen to know with any marginal “eminence.” But instead, in typical Kanye grandiosity, he chooses to use the “Famous” video in an overt attempt to make us all “uncomfortable.” Just ask that uppity tight ass Lena Dunham.
“Influenced” by Vincent Desiderio’s painting for “Sleep,” the video features a total of twelve famous people (or really, famous bodies)–some prosthetic–in a peaceful slumber. A loose comment on the fame by association that can occur when two people become romantically or adversarially involved, the sleeping beauties (well, not all are so beautiful) are strategically placed next to one another–Kim Kardashian in between Kanye and Ray J, for instance, and Rihanna next to Chris Brown.
Considering Taylor Swift was essentially the thesis for the entire song, one would have expected she might be more of an imposing presence in the video, but since she’s a milquetoast, it’s no surprise that she’s simply “just there.” Conversely, Anna Wintour makes more of an impression because of how bad we feel for her being sandwiched in between Donald Trump and George W. Bush. Plus, it’s just interesting that Kanye acknowledges Wintour (rightly so) as someone who makes bitches famous.
Caitlyn Jenner’s presence in the bed is the most vexatious, as we all know she’s there by Kim proxy, and was probably the only one willing to be positioned next to Bill Cosby, which Kanye saves for last to pull out as his “trump” card. This, expectedly, got self-proclaimed spokesperson for all women Lena Dunham to comment in horror that the video made her feel “unsafe,” to which Vincent Desiderio retorted, “Artists are not saints. They’re not people whose first obligation is moral correctness.” And there is no working “artist” today more in accord with that sentiment than West.
Toward the end of the video, a snarky “Special Thanks” to all of the people “involved” comes up, thanking them “for being famous.” It doesn’t go unnoticed that Kanye is married to the most quintessentially non-famous famous person in pop culture, and so we can’t help but defer to him in knowledge and connoisseurship of these matters. Still, tell us something we don’t know without trying so hard to be “artistic.” And ripping off someone else’s painting in the process. But hey, on the positive side, at least we didn’t have to see any of the geezers’ prosthetic wangs (Caitlyn Jenner included) in the process of this “statement” video.