Threatening to boycott someone doesn’t really mean anything, unless you actually planned on buying something from them. For example, I’m currently boycotting Mercedes-Benz, for selling cars that cost way too much money, and hence serving as a constant reminder of my failure in life, but it doesn’t really mean anything, because I couldn’t afford a Mercedes-Benz anyway – because I’ve failed to crack that lucrative hoodrat demographic, like Sandra Rose and Necole Bitchie, both of whom drive Mercedes. (I heard, albeit from Sandra Rose herself, that Sandra Rose had hers first, and that’s why Necole got hers…) Meanwhile, I’m catering to the same demographic as Little Brother, which is why I’ll be living in this house in a shanty town for the rest of my life.
Similarly, a cultural boycott, like the artists who are refusing to play shows in Arizona, because they’re pissed at that state’s Papers Please law, hardly counts for shit, unless it includes artists who could actually book a show in that state. Zach de La Rocha might find the signing of SB 1070 comparable to the Holocaust (aside from no one actually dying or anything), but what difference dose it make, if Rage Against the Machine has only played something like five shows since I was a teenager, and no one would even remember the name of de La Rocha’s other group if they didn’t just see it in a press release for his anti-SB 1070 campaign the Sound Strike, as part of a list of groups who have pledged not to play in Arizona until they open the border up? As long as he’s pledging not to do any shows there, why doesn’t he pledge not to sell any copies of that solo album he’s putting out with ?uestlove and Trent Reznor? Rofflecaust.
In that sense, I’m surprised to see the Sound Strike campaign somehow managed to enlist Kanye West. He’s easily the most relevant artist on their list. I mean, if we define relevance as maintaining a commercially viable career. Aside from a bunch of more or less defunct Rage-related groups, each named individually to pad out the list, the next most popular artist might be Conor Oberst, whom I made the mistake of so much as mentioning here the other day – but it’s perfectly fine if he’s singing hooks on the new Roots albums, as if he’s the broad from Floetry with the fucked up teeth. Speaking of which, does this mean the Roots will be boycotting Arizona, or are they not allowed to take a political stance, because of their job at NBC? We know there’s a connection between them and Rage, via Zach de La Rocha’s imaginary solo album.
Who knew Kanye West cared so deeply about illegal immigration – or any contentious political issue, for that matter? The only other example I can think of where it looked like he might have a point of view was the time he interrupted that Hurricane Katrina telethon to inform the world that George Bush doesn’t care about black people, but even then it wasn’t clear to me that his analysis of the issue went much deeper than finding out who was in charge and accusing them of being a racist. Not that I don’t find the anti-SB 1070 hysteria to be just about as silly. I’m against the law myself, but I honestly don’t find it to be that big of a deal. I definitely don’t find it to be on a par with, or otherwise appropriate to mention in the same context as the Holocaust. I mean, I could see if they rounded up everyone who looks like they might be hispanic and only set free the ones who are legally allowed to be here, but all they’re doing is asking people if they’re illegal immigrants. If you didn’t break the law, you don’t have anything to worry about.
But this must be an important issue for Kanye, if he’s willing to piss off the (likely) majority of people in this country who could give a rat’s ass about someone who looks like they might be an illegal immigrant having to show their papers. It’s not just people in Arizona who would attend a Kanye West concert (which sucks anyway) that he’s running the risk of alienating, it’s cracka-ass crackas all over, who are still pissed off about the black-ish president. The same people who elected this clown Rand Paul, who seems to know about as much politics as Kanye. The first thing he did after winning the Republican primary for the US Senate in Kentucky was announce that he wouldn’t have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but then he turned right around and admitted that he hadn’t actually read it. Tha fuck? White people are gonna fuck around and take back our right to vote. Those chain emails may not have been as full of shit as we thought.
You’d think Kanye would have learned his lesson last year, when he snatched the mic out of Taylor Swift’s hands at the MTV Awards and announced that Beyonce should have won. This is not 2005. You can’t just express an opinion with regard to race and not expect there to be negative consequences for your career. Not that I think artists should factor what racist white people think into determining whether or not to take a stance on an issue. I’m just saying. I’d hate to see him have to take another year off.