Human Rorschach test Kanye West closed out last night's Billboard Music Awards with performances of "All Day" and "Black Skinhead" that were bleeped so many times they should have just had him holding a sign with the word "censored" as the entire performance. The reactions on my timeline and newsfeed about his pyrotechnics ranged from pissed to exasperated to amazed to frustrated. Basically, the exact same range of feelings about Kanye whenever he performs or interviews or drops new music or names his children or appears at NBA games or tries to order sashimi at Burger King.
There was one feeling missing, though: Hate. Again, there was not a lack of Kanye-inspired negative emotion on my timeline and newsfeed. But even the people most turned off by him don't hate him, they're just extremely annoyed by and/or disappointed in him.
But most of the people I follow on Twitter are Black. As are most of my Facebook friends. And when I leave the confines of my self-imposed Negrotown, that hate starts to appear.
Sometimes it appears in the comments sections of places like Slate and Gawker, where some people appear to be so incredulous of and angered by the fact that some people actually don't hate him that it El Ninos their already burgeoning hate fire. Sometimes it's so literal that, well, it can't possibly be any more literal.
Obviously, not all White people hate Kanye West. He has millions of White fans willing to attend every show, buy every album, and excuse every attempt to convince us plus-sized Ziplock bags are high fashion. And, more importantly, hundreds of White writers, bloggers, critics and other arbiters of popular culture consider him to be a musical genius. But while it's true that not all White people hate Kanye, if you do happen to encounter someone who hates Kanye, they're at least 976% likely to be White.
Why, though? Where exactly does this hate — this anger orgy of all things Kanye-related — come from? Let's look at a few theories.
1. His outspokenness and apparent arrogance
Ah, yes. Nothing burns the type of White person who'd expend actual effort hating a Black person who A) they'll never, ever, ever meet and B) has never committed any real crime deeper than a Black person who gives no fucks about telling everyone how awesome he happens to be. This arrogance is unexpected ginger in their tea; a wasabi smoothie burning their nostrils making them wonder why the hell they thought it was a good idea to order a wasabi smoothie.
Still, there are other Black public figures as loudly and unambiguously confident in their abilities as West, many of them don't receive this type of animus (Tyson, Mike; Jordan, Michael), and some of whom can't even grow beards (Pierce, Paul).
That in mind, I'd say there's a 36% chance the hate is caused by this.
2. His ordeal with Taylor Swift
We don't have to revisit what happened when that happened. Or why what happened happened. Or even why what happened after it happened happened. Just know that the only way you're going to make that many White people angry again is if you discontinue the production and sale of kale.
Hate cause likelihood: 271%
3. His comments about George Bush
Is often blamed for some of the hate the White people who hate Kanye feel. But at that time, no one — Blacks, Whites, other members of the Bush family, grammar, etc — was really fucking with Dubya, so Kanye was preaching to the choir.
Hate cause likelihood: 4%
4. His sleeping with a very famous White woman
Perhaps it's due to her (relatively) dark hair/skin and "un-American-sounding" name. Or maybe it's because of her being romantically linked to basically nothing but Black men. Regardless of the reason, it does seem like (some) White people don't necessarily claim Kim Kardashian as White. I mean, if they had a big-ass All White People In America And Shit Picnic, she'd probably get invited. But she'd probably have to eat with paper plate and a single spork.
Hate cause likelihood: 14%
5. His status as an "artistic genius"
This one is tricky, because this particular form of hate is actually a reaction to the love other White people give him. Even if you don't agree with the lauds about Kanye's talent and musical genius, you at least have to acknowledge that there are very many people who do. Some of whom study and write about music and pop culture for a living, and generally have people take their opinions very seriously.
Thing is, giving Kanye — a rapper who produces rap music — that type of praise angers certain people who believe rap music is simplistic and elementary. (And, for many of them, rap is simplistic and elementary because it's something created and cultivated by mostly Black people) Calling a person associated with rap a "genius" legitimizes an artform they believe to be illegitimate. A rapper can be entertaining. Or hard working. Or popular. But because all it apparently takes to create rap music is some nursery rhymes screamed on top of a beat machine, rap is inherently unsmart. And if rap is inherently unsmart (and inherently Black), you can not exhibit any type of real intellect when creating that music.
Hate cause likelihood: 198%