Yesterday I riffed a little bit on this quote from LA Times’ writer Patrick Goldstein, writing of Russell Crowe and machismo:
…the alpha males of the past often ended up ruining their lives, along with most of their marriages, with all their womanizing and boozy excess. Yet we’ve lost something too, since many of today’s best-known actors and athletes are cautious and dull, fearful of jeopardizing their careers with any intemperate behavior.
This morning it occurred to me that one current male who fits that former description is Kanye West, whose new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s ambitious, over-the-top, and great—a hip-hop Sergeant Pepper. West himself seems like a jerk—arrogant, insecure, obnoxious. But his talent is undeniable. So often these qualities go together: the dysfunctional personality and the exorbitant talent. (Think Frank Sinatra.)
Do we need that kind of figure in our culture? Quoted in the LA Times, singer John Legend—who couldn’t be more different—says yes to Kanye and others like him.
“We need rock stars in our culture,” Legend said. “I feel like we don’t have as many right now as we used to. It’s cool to have an outrageous, outsized persona in popular culture, and Kanye’s doing that. He’s also making really interesting, innovative and exciting music. We should be grateful to have an artist like him right now.”
If it’s a choice between bad boy Kanye West at one extreme and good boy Justin Bieber at the other, I know which way I lean….