Kanye’s VMA Speech from a PSU Lecturer’s Perspective

Photo posted by Kanye West | Instagram (@kanyew.est)

At the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West infamously interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for Best Female Video. Fast forward six years and Ms. Swift is presenting Kanye with the Video Vanguard Award on the same stage that their first incident occurred. Well played, MTV. Well played.

Kanye was awarded the prestigious Video Vanguard Award based on his significant contributions to MTV’s culture. As expected, the artist’s speech was anything but ordinary and lasted for 11 minutes. Obscure, powerful, bizarre and captivating are just a few words to describe the performance that Kanye gave upon receiving his award. His long pauses, random outbursts, and especially his Presidential candidacy announcement created an uproar of applause from the audience. Is there anything Kanye won’t do?

What seemed like the most unscripted speech of the century actually reflected Kanye’s extraordinary artistic flair. Penn State Communications Arts and Sciences Lecturer Travis Brisini compares Kanye’s most recent speech to his 2009 outburst.

“The last time we can remember seeing Kanye on the VMA stage was during the 2009 Taylor Swift feud. During that event, his remarks were delivered quickly, seemingly without much of a filter, and he was keelhauled by the American public for his performance,” Brisini says. “It makes total sense to me that he would make a stylistic choice to seem more pensive, regretful and thoughtful. Slowing down the rate of his remarks was an easy way to give that impression and better control his own image.”

Kanye’s speech was unlike anything we have ever seen or heard before. He spoke slowly, deliberately and took long pauses to find his words, which created an emotional image for the rapper. Kanye’s raw and emotional speech gave the impression of a “tortured artist,” Brisini says. If that was Kanye’s plan, he flawlessly executed it.

And if you thought Kanye’s speech could not get even more interesting, he admits to smoking something before he went out on stage. Jesus, Yeezus.

As eccentric as this speech was, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for Kanye. He will always be an artist who astonishes the public time and time again with a controversial comment, a game-changing music video, or just the fact that he is married to Kim Kardashian.



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