How To Properly Stan A Problematic Fave Like Kanye West

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images.
They say you can’t help who you love. This applies to friends, lovers, and sometimes, our favorite celebrities. There are some icons, like Beyoncé, who very rarely find themselves in the middle of scandals that call their morals or ethics into question. But then there are others, like Azealia Banks, Justin Bieber, and Donald Glover who send the internet into divisive fits with their art, commentary, and/or antics. Nevertheless, for every person that condemns one of these artists, there are just as many, if not more, willing to stand by their side. I witnessed this last year when I saw the throngs of Black girls and women — and a few dudes — lined up to watch a Chris Brown documentary despite his questionable actions towards women. Even R. Kelly can still sell out shows despite the decades-long saga of him being an alleged sexual predator. To say that we sometimes have complicated relationships with our faves would be an understatement.
Advertisement
One of the most relevant examples of these fraught relationships is Kanye West. Arguably the most controversial man in music, West made a raucous return to Twitter in April that has the entire internet feeling some type of way. He started off light and spacey by dropping some philosophical gems. He would later clarify that these tweets were indeed the book of philosophy that he’d promised fans, and that he would be working on it when he felt like it. Things escalated when he declared his unconditional love for Donald Trump, a move that instantly put him on people’s bad side. Things went from bad to worse when he appeared on TMZ and said that slavery sounded like a choice. Over the course of his public re-emergence, the rapper and husband of Kim Kardashian West pissed off more than a few people.
But in the midst of this controversy is a long-awaited album from West, who is also a musical genius. I can’t blame anyone for looking forward to a new Yeezy album. You simply can’t deny his abilities in a studio and a booth, regardless of his indiscretions.
So, what’s a fan to do?
What if I told you that you could still be a West fan without banishing him and his music from your life forever? I can already hear people stretching their Twitter fingers to drag me for saying this, but just like in the real world, it’s possible to love a public figure through their fucked-upness, and I’m going to tell you how with a couple of quick tips.
Advertisement
Define your bottom lines.
What transgressions are absolute deal breakers for you? For me, R. Kelly is 100% cancelled. I don’t care that he hasn’t actually been found guilty and charged with a crime, and that none of the allegations of sexual harassment and coercion have resulted in arrest. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy his music if I wanted to because I can’t help but wonder if he’s singing those songs about underaged or non-consenting women. On the other hand, I think Donald Glover representing Black women as crazy and aggressive on his FX series Atlanta is fucked up, but not fucked up enough for me to stop watching the show or lusting after it’s creator. I think his perspective on Black women warrants criticism, but not cancellation.
Be honest about what they’ve done wrong.
Many times fans rush to the defense of their fave just for the sake of defending them. It’s possible to admit that someone you like screwed up. Plenty of tweets and Facebook statuses have started with “I love [problematic fave] BUT….” Feel free to be nuanced in your stanning.
Stan privately.
I never doubted how problematic it was that people of color were erased from the Brooklyn landscape of Girls. I also don’t agree with most of what Lena Dunham has to say off screen, either. But I was content watching every single episode of Girls until the very end without being super extra about it. Sometimes not boasting about your position in a fandom is okay. Exercising your right to be quiet is rarely something that can hurt.
The truth is that celebrities are humans. Some humans are problematic. But that doesn’t always render them unlovable, so keep these tips in mind the next time your fave ends up on TMZ.
Advertisement

More from Pop Culture

Watch

R29 Original Series