A speech from the always-unpredictable Kanye West is, depending on one’s point of view, either great fun or a great reason to change the channel. This Sunday at the MTV Video Music Awards, it was a little bit of both.
Last year, West was the talk to the 2015 VMAs when he accepted his Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award by announcing his plans to run for president in 2020. So of course, MTV decided to bet on yet another golden moment this year, granting West a full four minutes of uninterrupted screentime to do whatever he pleased at the 2016 VMAs. Gleeful speculation started almost immediately at the news: What would Kanye say this time?
Turns out, he said nothing as interesting as last year. Apparently his 11-minute, mic-dropped 2015 VMAs rant was a hard act to top.
This year, West took the stage and, after announcing himself in his typical grandiose fashion (“I am Kanye West, and that feels really good to say this year”), he used up a good amount of his precious minutes with lengthy pauses, seemingly either thinking about what to say next – or deliberately keeping the audience on edge – while he grinned ear-to-ear.
Fans and foes weren’t totally disappointed, however. These were some of the highlights of his speech (which, it should be noted, went over four minutes):
1. After musing about the “audacity” of fame – and namechecking Vogue editor Anna Wintour and presidential candidate Donald Trump – West crowed abruptly, “I see you, Amber,” and pointed to his former girlfriend Amber Rose, who was in the audience. Following a quick camera shot of Rose’s stiff smile, West cheerfully added, “My wife” – i.e., Kim Kardashian West – “is a G” for letting him give a shout-out to his ex.
2. West also called out his on/off nemesis, Taylor Swift, with whom he has infamously been embroiled in conflict for most of this year regarding his provocative single “Famous.” “I love all of y’all,” he noted. “That’s why I called her.” Swift herself was not in attendance to react, nor did she reply at press time on social media.
3. West attempted to touch on social issues, referring to the recent violence in his hometown of Chicago last week. However, he twisted the commentary into an odd discussion regarding the importance of role models, naming his own… and including himself in the bunch: “Truman, Ford, Hughes, Disney, Jobs, West. Wow!”
4. The audience, per usual, responded to West’s proclamations in typical silent “what was that?” fashion, save West’s proud wife, Kim, who reacted with tears and applause.
While a speech from West is always amusing, we’ll have to give the verdict that, if he is serious about running for president in four years, he might want to consider a speechwriter.