Outrage Is a Dish Best Served Sort-of-Warm

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

MTV VMAs

If you watched the Music Television Video Music Awards (or the MTV VMAs as I so cleverly have dubbed them) then you undoubtedly are either a 13-year old girl, not into football, haven’t given Mad Men a chance yet or you really had nothing better to do and wanted to see if Perez Hilton was going to show up with a orange-ish Mohawk-ish hair style, pink shorts and what looked to be cut-off, yellow rain boots. So if you fall into any of these categories, you undoubtedly watched Kanye West storm the beaches of Normandy the stage and professed one of the great injustices of our lifetime that he disagreed with the selection of Taylor Swift’s video for Best Female Video when Beyoncé’s video wasn’t even nominated. I didn’t watch it live by any means but after quite an uproar on Twitter and Facebook (the modern day equivalent of the Boston Tea Party is a scathing 140-character update or changing your status update on Facebook from a quote about dancing like nobody is looking to ripping Kanye West), I felt the need to inquire about it and find the YouTube clip.

Now, I’m not sure what a Taylor Swift exactly is but from what I’ve gathered through extensive research over the course of last night, she’s a young country singer who may or may not be worthy of a Purple Heart or Nobel Peace Prize after enduring such a heinous attack. So why did Kanye West do this? Because he badly needed attention? Because he was afraid that after such a huge flop of his latest album, he needed to pull a stunt to prove that he was still the Jay Marriotti of rappers? Because the MTV producers scripted him to?

More likely than not, it was because he wanted the attention (assuming that MTV didn’t script it). When he called Beyoncé’s video (which later won Best Video of the Year or best spectacle involving Jay-Z’s lady friend in a uni-tard) “one of the best videos of all time,” he didn’t actually mean that. He just felt like he had to get up on stage and show that he was still breathing and was still suffering from the same eye condition that Vin Diesel’s character had in Pitch Black, which forces him to wear sunglasses indoors. There was no actual injustice here but it is fun to pretend like there is because that’s what this culture does. We blow things out of proportion so that we can find a cause to complain about in a New Media environment. Do we actually blame Kanye West for it? I would hope not. We are all reveling in the fact that West ran up on stage, grabbed the microphone from the terrified, young, white female and set the internets on fire.

It’s the same reason why we love Ron Artest and Stephon Marbury at our core level. What Ron Artest has done with video blogging (especially the ones that get deleted by his management team) should be classified as transcendent. The internet wasn’t really invented so that we could share more information at a faster pace. It was invented so that he could make tributes to Michael Jackson, show us the process of him signing with the Lakers, and feed homeless people with Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Whenever we see a headline from Skeets on Ball Don’t Lie that involves the words “video” and “Ron Artest” we get a level of anticipation that only Ron or a last second shot can bring to our central nervous system.

We feed off his insanity and have, since he decided to bum rush the crowd in Detroit, more than half a decade ago. But insanity isn’t exactly the correct or proper term for what Ron Artest does on a consistent basis with the internet. It’s just brilliant marketing. The worst thing that a person like Artest can become is irrelevant. He has a mentality through his own upbringing and psychological makeup that requires him to be the center of attention, or as close to the center as he can get. It isn’t really a narcissistic thing either; it’s more of a needing to feel acceptance by a mass audience that he can’t get when he isn’t directly in front of 20,000 people watching his every move. Personally, I believe things are much more calculated with Ron Artest than they are with someone like Stephon Marbury.

Stephon Marbury went a different route with his Social Media experiment; he inundated the market and never let up. The benefit of this was the fact that he instantly became a topic of discussion in nearly every form of communication amongst basketball fans. He hadn’t been a real topic of conversation outside of a couple of minor instances over the past two seasons. He was a passing thought as people tried to figure out ways for their respective teams to get better, until they realized that he was simply not the right cure for their ailing franchise. By throwing his name and brand into the Twitter network, he was essentially testing the waters to see if broadcasting his life for a full 24-hour day would be well received or received at all.

When there was an initial response that ultimately appeared to be quite positive, Steph and the folks from uStream jumped at the opportunity. He was all of a sudden being broadcast for days on end and it left a feeling of bewilderment that lead to depression and feeling sorry for the former star. He was no longer an icon but a complete sideshow, like the bearded-lady and Star Jones. Instead of slowly building up a dedicated audience like Patton Oswalt, he flooded the market like Dane Cook but didn’t have the college female following to turn it into an actual longstanding success.

And now?

We are relegated to the clips of him getting in a car crash, eating Vaseline, and trying to prove to people that he’s not a homosexual. The attention he warranted hasn’t been sincere and it hasn’t been adoration. It’s the rubbernecking that comes with a bashed up car on the side of the road. And it should be a cautionary tale for the rest of the young NBA players that are looking to reach out to their fans through Twitter and whatever the next social media craze is.

Guys like J.R. Smith and Michael Beasley have gone through the downs of this new culture while Charlie Villaneuva, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and others are experiencing the ups. The call for attention isn’t as desperate as Kanye West showed us on Sunday night. It’s a connection that is distanced and at the same time, shows a look into the lives of those that fans never get to see it.

We don’t necessarily want guys like Brandon Jennings to go smoothly through their ascension from young star to accomplish star to aging star. We don’t want him to just follow us on Twitter and update us with his workout regimen. We seemingly want him to find ways to be outlandish and troublesome. We need him to shock us. We need him to fill our need for a cause to complain about. It’s the same reason that news is more scintillating and gets better ratings when there is more crime in the broadcast than puppies and kittens living in ignorant bliss (although we love that too).

We want to be outraged. Otherwise, we just end up tweeting about our work day and waiting to grasp onto the next great injustice of our time.

Seth Carstens