I’m pretty sure that Kanye West and Joe Wilson have nothing in common. Kanye is a swaggerific hip-hop fashionista who wears Alexander McQueen suits and Yohji Yamamoto gloves, and whose vanity is only eclipsed by his ego. Joe Wilson is an extremely white, Southern Republican congressman who has never heard a Wu-Tang Clan song and who once voted against the removal of the confederate flag at South Carolina’s capital.
But West and Wilson do have one thing in common: Both men are tactless, disrespectful opportunists.
When Joe Wilson broke protocol during Obama’s healthcare speech and shouted “You lie!” it was shockingly disrespectful; Likewise when Kanye ripped the microphone from sweet little Taylor Swift and stole her VMA thunder. In both cases these men spoke out of turn in trying to prove a point but failed to prove anything but their own annoying dearth of class. In both cases there were subtle racial undertones at play that made the outbursts even more offensive.
But worse than their actual transgressions were their flimsy, shotgun apologies West and Wilson quickly offered to shift the blame away from their own stupid actions. Wilson apologized soon after his “You lie!” outburst, but has since been refusing to publicly apologize again (instead he seems happy to be raking in the fundraising money as the GOPs new bad boy). West, meanwhile, wrote a bizarre all-caps apology on his blog just hours after his Taylor Swift assault, saying he was “SOOOO SORRY” but also “EVERYBODY WANNA BOOOOO ME BUT I’M A FAN OF REAL POP CULTURE!! … I’M NOT CRAZY YALL, I’M JUST REAL.” Oh really, Kanye? So being “REAL” entails being an insensitive low-class pop culture predator? And then he goes on Jay Leno and tries to play the confused victim who is still in grief for his mother? Please.
The rush to apology seems indicative of our culture’s unwillingness to truly take ownership of wrongdoing. When we say or do something stupid, we are lightning quick to wash our hands of it—whether via “apology” or some other recompense—rather than suffer any consequences for our actions. But wake up, Kanye and Joe: If you want our respect, you need to get over yourselves, suffer a little bit for your offenses and NOT throw down a quickie apology wrapped in narcissism.