Written by Malachi Brown
It’s no secret that Kanye West has been dropped from Adidas, and Footlocker pulled all Yeezys from sale on account of his recent antisemitic comments and wearing a quote tied to the Ku Klux Klan. Only now will my friends admit that he’s insane. After years of watching him publicly humiliate himself over and over again, foolishly run for president only to further split the Republican vote and treat Kim Kardashian worse than any human should, it was not until he was tied to neo-Nazism that his fans took off their rose-colored glasses to see the red flags — though I imagine that a month from now people will return to the sentiment of “yeah, he’s crazy, but you gotta love his music.”
For decades, Americans have been redefining our idea of “a good human being” from someone who reaches the edge of eternity into someone who embraces being a broken person artistically. For instance, instead of valuing Aristotle who paved the way for virtue ethics, we value the eloquent poet, D.H. Lawrence, who tells us that we are nothing more than animals. Lawrence may be better spoken than Aristotle, but “better spoken” is not always better.
I have been confused for a long time why we care what celebrities think more than the laity. Why do people listen to what Donald Trump has to say about COVID-19 more than we trust the scientists who developed and verified the vaccine? Why do people listen to what Leonardo DiCaprio has to say about climate change more than professional environmental scientists? And why are so many people ready to listen to Taylor Swift or Harry Styles on what love means but claim “trauma dumping” from an old professor who is remarried and never wants to go through a divorce again?
The reason American culture listens to celebrities over specialists is because we are delusional. We listen to people we think are closer to heaven than us; that is, we think they see the world better than we do on our own. Our fault is that our vision of heaven now only consists of good acting, catchy melodies and profitable business. We mistake clever writing for emotional maturity and a successful company for ethical practice.
Do not get me wrong. I think that heaven will have splendid music and enough food to go around, but the musicians will be better people than they are musicians, and the businessmen will be better at being an image of God than they will be at making money.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to listen to Kanye’s music and say it sucks, despite how much I want to. Similarly, I love the movie “Braveheart” even if I think Mel Gibson is not a very good person. I think it is okay to enjoy these things; after all, to enjoy art is only to be human. But let’s stop acting like celebrities have the answer to our problems. I’d like to coin an aphorism right now: “Let the painter paint, but let the prophet speak.” If we want to hear about climate change, let’s listen to climate specialists instead of businessmen. If we want to know about love, stop listening to singers who have never been married, or actors in their fourth marriage, and instead ask the old couple in church who have been married 50 years; you’ll probably get a better answer.