Social Media influences Kanye West Controversy

Controversy strikes! Kanye West, right, and Candace Owens, left, present their White Lives Matter shirts at the Paris fashion show. Photo courtesy of Page Six Style.

Controversy strikes! Kanye West, right, and Candace Owens, left, present their “White Lives Matter” shirts at the Paris fashion show. Photo courtesy of Page Six Style.

Allie Sukhman, web editor

 Social media is a powerful tool with the ability to spread information and misinformation incredibly fast. Just one statement posted on a single platform can transform the media into chaos and clashing opinions, either defending or attacking the statement in question. Especially if one has a popular following or influence on social media, it is easy to be scrutinized and be “canceled” with one wrong move. Ye, formally known as Kanye-West, has recently received immense backlash from his spur of racist and antisemitic comments across social media.

West has recently and rightfully been attacked for his blatantly racist clothing choices. In early October, West attended Paris Fashion Week, and while the models were supposed to be the ones in the spotlight, West’s controversial attire drew the attention towards himself. 

His black long-sleeve shirt featured in sizeable writing, “White Lives Matter.” This white supremacist slogan was adopted to argue against the “Black Lives Matter” movement, which gained popularity in June 2020 following racial police brutality in the United States. 

In response to the animosity West received for his choice of clothing, he told Fox News that “[he] thought the shirt was a funny shirt, [he] thought the idea of [him] wearing it was funny.” He later claims he wore the “White Lives Matter” shirt “because they do. It’s the obvious thing.” 

The first problem with these words lies in the comedic aspect he finds in the slogan. By undermining the impact of the phrase, West makes the need for racial justice seem like a joke. The second problem is West lending his celebrity voice to rationalize an obviously racist message. As West significantly influences social media and the music industry, his word choices impact his fans’ beliefs.

Although West’s racism has gained the support of Candace Owens, a Republican author, he has lost the approval of many influential celebrities, including Jaden Smith, Ariana Grande, and John Legend. Jaden Smith, who attended West’s Yeezy show in Paris, tweeted that he left early, not caring who it was because he didn’t agree with the message, and reaffirmed Black Lives Matter. The “West” controversy has shined a spotlight on racial acrimony.

Aside from racism impeding West’s reputation, the artist’s recent spark of antisemitism has further hindered respect from others.

Following the Paris Fashion Week controversy, West tweeted, “I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE. The funny thing is I actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew…”.

West’s statements ignited antisemitism across the nation. One incident occurred in Los Angeles, where above a freeway, a hate group held a sign saying “Kanye is right” as they raised their arms in a Nazi salute.

As a ripple effect of West’s actions, Adidas endured retaliation, resulting in the shoe brand announcing termination of their partnership with West. After losing his brand deals with Adidas and other notable brands, West has lost his billionaire status, illustrating the sizeable economic loss suffered due to his hate speech. 

Although West has experienced countless amounts of backlash and resistance against what he said, he will remain a powerful figure in the music industry and the political field because of his following across the media. This poses a question as to whether it’s okay to be a supporter of his music. Is it possible to be a fan while disapproving of his beliefs? Or is the only way to honestly resist his harmful actions to disregard him completely? 

It is a question left unanswered and left up to morality. However, it is essential to note that although West’s actions are unforgivable and unacceptable, more attention has been given to racist and antisemitic issues for the first time in a while. Social media will continue to moderate popular culture debate while influencing widespread beliefs.