Kanye West 'Occupies' Givenchy
So I have a tendency to keep it light over here, but there have been some things going on recently that I feel are necessary to mention on this blog. First of all, if you haven't heard of the Occupy Movement, please click here, here, and here. Essentially a response to the inability of your average American to survive in this country (due to debts, unemployment, low wages, etc.), it started with 'Occupy Wall Street' in New York City and has expanded to over 1000 cities nationwide. Referring to themselves as 'the 99% getting nothing taking action against the 1% getting everything,' the movement has been steadily building momentum for the past month and, after the arrest of 700 protestors in Brooklyn and the aggressive arrests of Vietnam War veterans by local police in Boston, is finally being addressed by the media and many local politicians.
Two days ago, moguls Kanye West and Russell Simmoms showed up at Occupy Wall Street in New York. West wore a $355 Givenchy plaid shirt.
Let me repeat that.
Kanye West wore a $355 Givenchy plaid shirt to a protest led by activists whose mission statement is as follows: We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent. A man whose current net worth is approximated at over $70 million felt it was appropriate to show up at a social activists protest in a shirt that probably all of them will NEVER be able to afford... after shopping all afternoon with Jay-Z and Beyonce. (Did he even ditch the shopping bags first?) Understandably, people were upset. Others made the valid claims that West 'shouldn't be punished for being wealthy,' and that it isn't his job to be socially responsible or to alter the way he dresses every day just to be 'down with the cause.'
Here's what I think.
What bugs me out about Kanye West showing up, in Givenchy, no less, isn't that hes rich. We all know that he worked very hard to obtain his wealth and I'm honestly glad he wants to throw his publicity behind 'the movement.' What bugs me out is that, the other six days out of the week that he isnt at Occupy Wall Street, he's promoting the lifestyle that put America in the financial situation that it's in now. He's selling the concept of 'N*ggas In Paris (What's 50 grand to a mothafucka like me, can you please remind me?)' and 'Watching the Throne,' i.e. buying up all the expensive shit you can and stunting on everybody. He's going beachbombing in a chopped up Maybach meant to look like a dune buggy... just beacuse he can.
He took out loans that he didnt need to fund his line with 'the best designers, the best models, the best venues, the best, most luxurious fabrics' (his words), while other SMALL BUSINESS owners are being turned away. Then the line wasnt reviewed well ANYWAY, so what was even the ratio of actual creativity to just a gluttonous spending of money there? (And don't think I don't recognize my place in this game, either, blogging about a billion dollar industry that doesn't cater to me one bit. I'm taking long, hard looks at the blog posts these days, hence this one.)
At this point, Kanye West is a living embodiment of the 1% in urban culture.
This type of greed and materialism is what led corporations and banks to take big, steaming dumps all over the 99% in the first place. So if Kanye West, and any other celebrity, want to support, I say, dont show up at Occupy Wall Street. Why don't you take the money you spent on that Givenchy plaid and sponsor some design students that can't afford tuition at Parsons? Since you're '...in it for the f*cking creatives.' Or sponsor a family that cant afford to feed their children? Instead of taking out loans to hire 'the best' to show in Paris, why don't you hire little known American designers fresh out of design school (who probably can't get jobs to save their lives ANYWAY) and show your collection locally? Do some real philanthropy, dont just show up and stand around. He HAS the money and the influence and there are A MILLION legitimate ways that he can help this movement and pump some of the cash WE gave him by buying his cds, seeing his concerts, etc., back into the American economy. And while I know that none of that will solve the bigger issues of what is wrong with this country, by just showing up at the protest you are implicitly claiming some sort of soical responsibilty. So don't just talk about it. Be about it.