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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas