October 16, 2013

TV for Thought: Celebrity vs. Late Night Monologue

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I will start off with saying that Kanye West is NOT my favorite person. You may try to make a case for his “creative genius” on the music front and maybe business and fashion, but I’m not buying into his narrative. To me, he is just arrogant and deluded with visions of grandeur, but I digress. Let’s get to the real issue at hand: Celebrities vs. Late Night.

Two weeks ago, Jimmy Kimmel took on Kanye West in a seemingly innocuous parody of the BBC Radio 1 interview West had given. The parody had West and the interviewer, Zane Lowe, played by two children recreating a small portion the interview verbatim. It contained the best line — in my opinion — about selling the leather jogging pant to Fendi six years ago and being denied just for them to show up six years later. Now, I need to interject here before continuing. When Mr. Kim Kardashian asks how many mother****ers I’ve seen wearing these leather jogging pant, I’m gonna have to answer with two: Mr. West and Justin Bieber. That’s quite the douchetastic couple and not exactly who I think of as fashion gurus (not that I’m a fashion expert either). Now back to the story.

After the episode aired, Kanye took the obvious high road and went on a full Twitter rant against Jimmy Kimmel for what he deemed an unfunny and disrespectful sketch. I think he just hated hearing his words emanating from a voice other than his. What really got me about this Twitter tantrum and the subsequent phone call to Kimmel, is the non sequitur about his child, North (don’t even get me started on this poor kid’s name). In one tweet he writes, “JIMMY KIMMEL, I DON’T TAKE IT AS A JOKE… YOU DON’T HAVE SCUM BAGS HOPPING OVER FENCES TRYING TO TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR DAUGHTER.” Yes, I will concede that Jimmy probably doesn’t have “scum bags” or paparazzi trespassing on his property to take pictures of his daughter, but what does that have to do with the parody?

I understand that celebrity can be quite the burden, what with having your life on complete display and the expectation to somehow always be bigger than life, bigger than the average person. Paparazzi can and do ruin these people’s lives just to make a quick — and substantial — buck. But celebrities know that going in, and that’s why they usually hire representatives or cultivate certain relationships with the photogs so as to be in control of how they are portrayed. That doesn’t curb all of the bad press, but it helps. The other important aspect to celebrity is to not take yourself so seriously. Mr. West, however, takes himself way too seriously.

Then, what are late night hosts to do? Whether you like opening monologues or not, the bit is a staple for late night talk shows. The host will generally take on the buzzy and laughable topics of the day’s news. Celebrity antics tend to fall under both categories. With an interview as ridiculous as the one with West where you feel like you’re sitting through an overly, wrought-out ad for a rapper/rockstar/genius that the world didn’t actually ask for, you have to jump on the opportunity to make fun of it in order to stay relevant. However, one must toe the line between making a good-natured jest and utter ridicule. I believe Jimmy stayed on the right side of the line, and far on it at that. The fact that he actually brought on West at the end of last week to set the record straight and continue to laud how nice the rapper is in real life goes to show how he really meant no harm with his parody. Like he said, what’s funnier than hearing a little kid curse? It’s a cheap giggle, but you still giggled. So Mr. West, you “creative genius” you, take a chill pill. It’s gonna be okay. Let your head deflate. You’re not outside the realm of satire.