By David T. Valentin
Kanye West has made the headlines these past few days after erratic, jealous behavior towards ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her new boyfriend, comedian Pete Davidson. The rapper and R&B hip hop artist has taken strange actions in trying to not only maintain a relationship with his children, but to try and win Kim back even after she filed for divorce last year in January.
Not only did he buy a $4.5 million dollar home across from Kim’s, he’s made comments about his daughter North West being on TikTok, posting private texts to social media discussing his behavior and overall trashing Pete Davidson.
While fans of Kanye are flocking to his side, sopping up his sob story of only wanting to maintain a good relationship with his kids (while admitting to thinking Kim will just “come back to him”), women are seeing the moment for what it is: a crazy ex pursuing her despite her wishes and the many boundaries she’s set after a break up or divorce.
In a USA Today article, clinical psychologist and author of Detox Your Thoughts, Andrea Bonoir says, “The reality is, the media can be culpable and truly damaging people’s lives. And when the media frames it as entertainment or a public spectacle, we make it acceptable to talk in this way about any human who is suffering.”
Indeed, it has been noted by a few media outlets that Kanye, now legally named Ye, suffers from manic depressive disorder. The rapper has even been open in the past about grappling with his mental illness.
Our need to ridicule, mock and criticize Kanye for moments which are clearly depressive episodes is reflective of how we view and tolerate mental illness, celebrity or not.
We exercise compassion and empathy to those who have mild symptoms when dealing with mental illness, symptoms that do not disrupt a person’s ability to live their day to day lives. We post little infographics on what to do if we notice when someone is feeling “blue,” a little different than normal, or not as attentive as they usually are.
But what about people whose day to day lives are ruined by their mental illnesses? Where their rooms are buried with piles and piles of clothes because they cannot bring themselves to clean it themselves, whether because they don’t have the attention because of ADHD, or simply can’t get out of bed. What about the people who can’t even get out of bed to take a shower and go days without taking one because they can’t bring themselves to care? What about the people who can’t function at their workplace because their minds are constantly clouded by “What if’s” and foggy brain?
Americans like to believe there’s a new wave of education on mental illness—that workplaces are implementing little surveys to check in on their employees happiness and mental health overall. But are these workplaces implanting any change in a person’s material wealth? Are they increasing wages, providing adequate healthcare and decent work-life balances? Most probably not, especially if you’re working for a massive corporation.
And because we do not address the root cause of why someone might feel depressed, not only the internal factors but the external factors as well, we place the blame on the individual and we pretend mental illness is a single individual’s problem and not the failure of an entire system.
Not only that, but The United States as a whole lacks the culture to even recognize mental illness because of our work-centered attitude, for if a person fails to produce, they’re lazy rather than unmotivated, unambitious not deterred for lack of a reward, they do the bare minimum, not underappreciate and burnt out.
This is in no way to excuse Kanye’s abusive behavior towards Kim and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson, but his actions shouldn’t be making news headlines as the butt of some joke. We can still hold people like Kanye accountable while acknowledging his struggle with his manic depression. But we can also acknowledge and critique a culture that feeds off the struggles of others so as to elevate them and put people like Kanye in desperate situations, searching desperately for attention. Perhaps even for help.