Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that Kanye West stole the show during the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) Sunday night by grabbing to mic from Taylor Swift and stating that Beyonce should have won best female video of the year.
I was watching the show, thought it was all staged until I checked Twitter and Facebook – and realized, along with millions of other people, that this was not a joke. Kanye West really did smash this young artists’ heart with his boot heel.
What he did was wrong, but why does Kanye West matter?
It’s not the person that matters in the case of this unfortunate situation – it is really the outburst itself that deserves some attention. Kanye himself confessed, according to some media outlets, to drinking alcohol before the awards show. Dedicated fans also know that one of his mentors is married to Beyonce, who did NOT win the award. Kanye is also known as outspoken, sometimes at the most inopportune times.
The outburst matters because it showed how unclassy people can be when they drink. I grew up around adults who drank – and drank often. I quickly learned that I didn’t like being around drinkers that misbehaved (talked loudly, said inappropriate things, etc.). The idea of losing control of your self-control and civilized manner just never appealed to me. There’s an old saying, “A Drunk Mind Speaks a Sober Heart.” While that is very true in many aspects (you lose control over what you are saying/doing because of the alcohol), it doesn’t mention anything about responsibility or caring about others through your actions.
Keeping your mouth closed is a surefire way to prove yourself to be admirable. Most of us can’t admire someone who just shoots off at the mouth because they can. Whether you are mouthing off because of genuine belief in something or just to hear yourself talk, are you caring or thinking about who may be hurt? Even if you aren’t religious, the adage, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you,” should guide your actions and thoughts as you journey through life. Life is too short and relationships are too valuable to treat them like trash.
Taylor Swift is still very young and early in her career. Do you think she wants to be known as, “The girl Kanye flipped out on” for the rest of her career? Does she want to talk to reporters about what happened Sunday instead of record sales, musical inspirations, new singles or even what dress she’s wearing to the next awards show? I seriously doubt it.
I do not agree with Jay Leno asking Kanye (paraphrasing here) “What would your mama think?” but the question drove home the point that Kanye did not think before he acted – and spoke. One could easily just ask, “What would Jesus do” or “What would _____ do” as a starting point for learning how to respond differently to difficult situations.
Kanye West – and each of us – has a responsibility to use this as a teaching moment for the most impressionable amongst us. We need to step up and say that actions like this are uncalled for, disrespectful and mean-spirited. Instead of gossiping about it or making allegations about the meaning behind West’s actions (i.e. racism), we should use this outburst as a motivator to choose to treat people in our lives differently. Will we stand up for respecting each other instead of tearing others down? Will we condone behavior that leads to negative consequences? Or will we continue to give people passes because of celebrity, community standing or age?