David Lister: Face it, Kanye: you're just not that outrageous any more

The Week in Arts

Share
Related Topics

Your heart has to go out to Kanye West.

The rapper had a risqué cover photograph shot for his latest album, a picture of said Mr West having sex with a naked female angel.

The idea, it was admitted this week, was that the risqué photo would have the album deemed too controversial and banned. The artist who painted the cover said that West had visited his studio wanting "something that will be banned".

But it didn't work. Despite West's best efforts, no one wanted to ban the album. Radio stations played it; retail outlets stocked and sold it. Not a single fundamentalist group objected. The Women's Institute was unmoved. Walmart in America even put out a statement saying that far from rejecting the album and its artwork, it was "looking forward to selling it".

What humiliation for a hip-hop star. You try your hardest and you can't offend a soul. In fact, it was even worse. So confident was West that the record would be banned that he tweeted: "Yoooo they banned my album cover!!!!! Banned in the USA!!! They don't want me chilling on the couch with my Phoenix."

But they do, Kanye, they do. They love you chilling on the couch with your Phoenix. They can't get enough of you chilling with your Phoenix. Walmart is making dedicated space for you and your Phoenix.

Kanye West reminds me of an old Peter Cook TV sketch in which he was the film star Garbo, she of the famous phrase "I want to be alone". Finding that no one was going out of their way to pester or photograph, he toured crowded high streets on the back of a trailer announcing through a megaphone, "I want to be alone. I want to be alone." No one looked up from their shopping.

Kanye is telling the world through his megaphone: "I want to be banned." But no one will help the poor guy out. He has, of course, realised that hip-hop is becoming too respectable. Outrage about ho and bitch lyrics has waned, and if Kanye isn't careful, he could one day morph into Cliff Richard.

He knows that hip-hop needs to be outrageous again, and what better than being banned. But as others across the arts have found, banning is no longer in vogue. Records no longer fall foul of the BBC. Plays, unless they are about ethnic minorities, can say what they like. The British Board of Film Classification has seen it all, and is rarely shaken or stirred. If you want to cut your arm off on screen, go ahead. Viewers can always shut their eyes.

And so my heart goes out to Kanye. If he really wants to be banned, then the best way might be to take stock of recent events and see what can still cause outrage. Perhaps putting the Cenotaph on his album cover would have done the trick.

But rap star with naked angel plus a parental advisory warning sticker to sledgehammer the message home? It's trying too hard, Kanye. I'm afraid the dreaded spectre of respectability looms.

Not what I call restorative justice

Booking for a West End play the other day, I noticed that I was being charged the now near-ubiquitous "restoration levy" on my ticket. It may only be a pound or two, but it is annoying and, dare I say, slightly unethical.

We already pay heavily for the tickets. Any restoration costs should come out of the normal ticket price. The people owning West End theatres are multi-millionaires, and they make big profits. If they choose to renovate or brighten up their buildings, then that is all to the good, but why should audiences have to help to foot the bill with an extra charge? And why are these charges compulsory rather than voluntary?

Perhaps there is a solution. As I am paying towards the restoration of these theatres, can I and other audience members assume we will now get a share of the profits? That, surely, is only fair.

Do you really need to go to the States, Jodie?

The actress Jodie Whittaker has become the latest star to hit out at financial cuts to the arts. Whittaker, who is shortly to be seen in ITV's new ghost drama Marchlands, told The Stage that cutting the arts would prevent Britain from being a "creative" place. She said: "I think it's devastating and short-sighted. Why do they want us all to go to America? Don't moan about us all going to America and doing all this work there – it's because it gets done there."

The alternative – continuing to work here, perhaps for slightly lower fees, is obviously too ideologically perverse to contemplate.

We're all in it together, eh?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee