Cancel culture is at a fever pitch. Every week in 2018—nay, every day—we’ve squadded up on social media to cancel a different person or entity.
And now we’re getting that last immutable object out the paint, sex cult leader R. Kelly.
For the last week or so, Kanye Omari West has been trying his hardest to get added to the list. He tweeted a philosophy book that was as deep as a reflecting pool, broke out his autographed MAGA hat and sang Donald Trump’s praises, but that wasn’t enough. The final straw came Tuesday when he took his “free thinking” to TMZ and declared that slavery was a choice. That was the moment the masses declared Yeezy too far gone. “Coonye” was skewered all day, as black people again proved their resilience in the face of ridiculousness by making him the butt of a joke-laden hashtag, #IfSlaveryWereAChoice.
But don’t celebrate, yet. Kanye is not cancelled. Kanye Kardashian West might never be cancelled.
Why? There are far too many people who think like him. In fact, your first sign that Kanye was about to launch himself off a cliff was when he said he loves the way conservative YouTuber Candace Owens thinks. The excitement over Kanye’s return to Twitter after months out of the spotlight was doused when we learned Owens has been hailed as the next Tomi Lahren, which says all you need to know about the way she thinks. She’s called Trump the savior of the free world and suggested that Black Lives Matter supporters like being oppressed, and these are among her milder takes. When Owens saw Ye’s praise, she fangirled and asked Kanye for a meeting. She called for him to help her “wake up the black community.” Sadly, he answered.
If you don’t think Kanye just tapped into a whole new, alt-right audience, you’re insane. The crowd at his next concert audience could likely be of the Charlottesville ilk, or the kind of people who see the myopic opinions of one man as validation that they can’t possibly be racist, because, hey, a black person thinks that way, too! Kanye is now a topic of discussion on Fox News, which surely gets his message out to a new base.
Second, there are far too many who have run into the phone booth and emerged in full Superman regalia, dying to cape for their hero. Problematic nymph Erykah Badu chimed in, strong and wrong as she insists on being of late. And both Goldlink and Game flew by to uphold the tired trope that Kanye is an infallible genius. The half-baked LA rapper went so far as to intimate that people who are not geniuses have no right to an opinion.
And Goldlink opted for cult-like worship, devoting an Instagram story to labeling Kanye a prophet: "How everybody is responding to Kanye right now is just a testament to how the world treats someone who thinks differently. He's taken us forward so many times and we've almost forgotten about that. He says things that seem crazy at the time (everyone hates him and calls him crazy) then it happens exactly how he says it."
In the same way people still want to “Step in the Name of Love,” or watch their Cosby Show reruns because Dr. Cliff Huxtable raised them, there’s an army of people still under the spell of Kanye’s masterpieces, from College Dropout to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to Yeezus. There are actual apologists coming to the defense of this news cycle’s wave of Men Doing Stupid Things, and they are rabid enough to compare Bill Cosby’s guilty verdict to being lynched. Sorry to tell you, but people who think like this feel strongly that the rest of the world is wrong. They see those who express their disagreement with West as the thought police. So what if Kanye lavishes adulation upon a leader who bans entire ethnic groups, brags about sexually assaulting women, and sympathizes with neo-Nazis? That’s his right, and we are the groupthink mob attacking him. These allies are not going to join the cries to cancel Kanye; they’re going to give his new music all the more spins and turn the volume up over all the critics who miss the old Kanye.