Content warning: mental health; discussions of race; abortion
Due to the heavy yet completely warranted focus on the Black Lives Matter movement these last few months, many Americans opted not to celebrate Independence Day this 4th July.
However, the focus seemed to be elsewhere, as this year’s Independence Day saw the launch of Kanye West’s presidential campaign. The events preceding the announcement have raised many questions, including ones about how we, as fans or general internet users, understand celebrity privacy and the mental health of the rich and famous.
Kanye has been known in the past as a vehement Trump supporter and has been pictured multiple times sporting a MAGA cap, though has since shown criticism of the POTUS. For many, this is concerning; it goes without saying that the last thing we want is another Trump-like figure as head of office. However, while he is interpreted as Republican by many, Kanye does hold some more liberal views, such as supporting the legalisation of cannabis and showing support for immigrants. But, in alignment with his strong faith, Kanye is strongly anti-vaccine and anti-abortion, claiming that planned parenthood centres do the “devil’s work”.
Perhaps the most discussed part of Kanye’s campaign thus far is his South Carolina rally on 19th July. This rally has been described by news outlets as “chaotic” and many have accused Kanye of misogynoir. The accusations came after Kanye, moments after praising a white woman for interrupting his speech to correct him, harassed a black woman for doing the same. At this same rally, Kanye has been criticised for his comments about abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who was videoed claiming that “she just took them to work for other white people”, when she freed approximately 70 slaves in the 1800s.
Since Kanye’s rally, many have shown concern for his mental health. Kanye revealed that he had bipolar disorder in 2016, and there has been speculation that he is currently experiencing a manic episode. This came to a head when he posted a series of tweets over the span of about half an hour in which he slut-shamed Kim for her sex tape and playboy photoshoots, accusing her and her mother (whom he not so fondly referred to as “Kris Jong-un”) of trying to “lock him up”. He also compared his life to Jordan Peele’s Get Out, in which a white family kidnaps and performs surgery on black people to put white people’s brains into their bodies, using them as human vessels.
Whilst discussing his anti-abortion views at his South Carolina rally, Kanye mentioned not only how he himself was almost aborted, but how his daughter North was also almost aborted. Kim then expressed anger at Kanye revealing something so personal, but has since released a statement on Instagram asking people to have empathy towards her husband and her family with regards to Kanye’s mental health. On 28th July, photographs were released of Kim crying in a car with Kanye and, given Kim’s previous request for empathy, you cannot help but feel that this is a step too far from the tabloids.
Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous women on Earth. The lives of her and her family have been televised for over a decade and she has a staggering 182 million followers on Instagram. Although Kim and Kanye collectively are worth over two billion dollars, their status makes the general public feel entitled to criticise everything they do. Online, many have dismissed the sincerity of Kanye’s presidential campaign and used his comments as content for memes.
It is true that ones mental health, although perhaps an explanation, is not an excuse for targeted misogynoir, and many agree that Kanye is an insufficient Presidential candidate. However, these events have shown that we cannot ignore how this family’s life, living under extreme public scrutiny, has affected them in their relationships, decisions and mental health.
Regardless of how you might feel about Kanye or the Kardashians, Kim and Kanye are having a difficult time at the moment. At the very least, they deserve privacy. If we are to hold celebrities accountable for their actions, we also need to respect them as real people.
Photo courtesy of Jacob Morch