Kanye’s “Famous” Video: A Visual to Shift the Culture

With recent news leading to a possible Apple buyout of Jay-Z’s music streaming platform Tidal, Kanye West releases his once Tidal exclusive “Famous” music video for the rest of the world to delve into his art, or disturbing uproar.

Story | Nico Blitz

Image | Tidal

Premiered on June 24th at the Forum in Los Angeles, this video features replicas of a handful of today’s most iconic figures who have a connection with West – (left to right) George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Trump, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner, and Bill Cosby. Though the 10-minute video captures nude replicas of these celebrities, at no moment is any celebrity depicted sexually.

A video of this artistic caliber was sure to grab the attention of the celebrities within itself – some pissed (Taylor Swift) and others proud (Chris Brown), but focusing on the video’s controversy takes away from seeing the mise en scene; how the images are put together, and why each member of the infamously “Famous” video are placed where they are on the bed.

George W. Bush (Republican, Previous United States President), Anna Wintour (Democratic, Fashion Journalist), and Donald Trump (Republican Candidate). These three have, or once had, one thing in common: power over the media. However, considering two Republicans are surrounding a lone woman Democrat, this may infer Kanye’s viewpoint on the United States’ misygonistic views on women in power. (Note even the direction of their heads are opposite, which implies both parties and sexes do not see eye-to-eye)

Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift – all whom are famous for their musical gifts, but have connected with Kanye at some musical level. Straying away from the idea that West made Swift famous, notice Chris Brown placed between the two superstars, which references Breezy’s sex scandals with Karrueche Tran. This implies that despite their musical talents, the media’s consistency to dive into their sex lives have control over their level of fame.

Notice Ray J is separated from the musically talented group and is placed between Ye’s wife and Amber Rose. Ray J, though very much known for his music, is seen merely as an individual who is famous because of his sex tape with Kim, and vice versa. Rose on the other hand was brought up by Wiz Khalifa, but made her way to fame as a video vixen. They are a trio of sexual icons who solely rose based on selling sexuality, implied in this video.

Lastly, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby were the biggest names of sexuality news in history. To keep it short, Jenner’s open door about her sex change and Cosby’s sexual-assault settlements are both cases that shift the culture.

Essentially, this video comes down to the idea of shifting the culture and who controls society’s minds. Though fame and the lead role in the United States is the person in the White House, the idea is that Kanye sees a shift in power. From Presidents and journalists who once controlled the minds of the people, which slowly shifted to artists who controlled society through music, and now pop culture seeing sex as the current gold medalist for mind control.

It makes sense. Today’s culture is ever-shifting and looks for new individuals to hold the responsibility of guidance. With the Millennials rising as the majority in the United States, its not a crazy thought that one day the national leader may indeed be a music icon, or sex icon, or the two fused together (for instance Kanye West), because that is what Millennials are looking for.

Founder of The Lunch Table. Writer, DJ and Master of Ceremonies.

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