Whether you love him or hate him, there’s no denying that Kanye West is a man who makes headlines, the most recent revolving around his recent dramatic hospitalization for exhaustion.
After having an admittedly rather public breakdown last week, in which he announced he would have voted for Trump if he were to have voted at all in the recent general election (which isn’t generally a great sign of mental well-being), Kanye has cancelled the entirety of his upcoming Saint Pablo tour and willingly checked himself into the U.C.L.A. Medical Centre. Constantly hounded by the media and paparazzi, every aspect of Kanye’s life has been under constant scrutiny for the entirety of his career, and I can’t help but feel that the media has been altogether far too hasty in their ridiculing of the rapper’s situation.
I, for one, have had approximately six mental breakdowns this year. Many of which I can assure you were instigated by matters wholly less stressful than those experienced by Mr. West. The only significant difference is that my mental breakdowns haven’t been plastered all over TMZ and E! for the entire world to see. (Though E! if you’re reading this and want to make a reality TV-show about an English Literature undergraduate’s struggles to reach the top-shelf items in Sainsbury’s, then you are more than welcome to document my life).
You could argue that this is merely the price one pays for being a figure of celebrity, but should we really be condoning this animalistic behaviour as a society? Is it really worth invading a person’s privacy for some fleeting feeling of superiority and voyeuristic entertainment? Personally, I think not.
A great deal of criticism has also been thrown in Kanye’s direction due to his ‘exhaustion’ being seen as a laughable excuse for a man who makes millions every year. He’s rich! How can he possibly be depressed? Pete from Bolton is a brick-layer who’s had some recent trouble with the wife and kids and you don’t see him suffering from exhaustion. Do ya, pet?
Well it’s exactly this sort of de-humanising that the tactless nature of celebrity reporting tends to encourage. And it is with great sadness that I have to inform Pete that Kanye is also a father of two with a job that takes up a great deal of his spare-time. Just because Kanye makes an extravagant amount of money, doesn’t immediately making his body immune to exhaustion or his mind safe from all forms of illness. Bear in mind this also hasn’t been the most relaxing year for Yeezy, as not only as he had to deal with the stress of managing a world-wide tour (which is pretty difficult, just ask Rihanna), but it probably didn’t help matters that his wife was robbed at gunpoint earlier in October this year. Let’s not make fun of the man who’s feeling a little shit after his wife was put into a life-threatening situation, because you can guarantee if Shirley (Pete from Bolton’s lovely wife) was in the same situation then the general public would likely be far more inclined to sympathise.
Kanye may be loud and obnoxious but he’s also refreshingly honest when it comes to matters of mental health, having previously rapped about his experiences with the anti-depressant Lexapro and being a vocal supporter of fellow rapper Kid Cudi throughout the latter’s recent struggle with depression. Despite a decade having passed since the death of his mother, Donda West, Ye still blames himself immensely for her passing – with the fatal heart disease she suffered from back in November 2007 having been prompted by complications following a breast reduction surgery that Kanye paid for her to undergo. Speaking to Q magazine as early as last year, Kanye stated that: “If I had never moved to LA, she’d be alive,” – a harrowing statement that gives us a glimpse into the psyche of the man the media is all too keen to portray as crazy.
Even in his most radical moments Kanye has also been able to deliver some truth, announcing in his recent Trump and Beyonce-fuelled breakdown: “I’m not always going to say things the perfect way, the right way, but I’m going to say how I feel.” And we can’t really fault him for that, regardless of how uncomfortable (or politically dubious) some of his feelings may be. In fact, I’d go as far to say that if more men were willing to adopt Kanye’s approach and say what they actually feel, there would be a far greater effort made in order to shed the stigma surrounding male mental illness.
That being said, Kanye isn’t a saint (his son is) and he does harbour some massively problematic opinions, but if you still find it amusing to laugh at a fellow human being (not a puppet created for your entertainment, but a flesh-and-blood person just like you and me) for suffering a bout of poor mental-health: then I’d recommend that it’s you that needs to re-asses your values. Not the man with 21 Grammys and a superstar family.