Kanye West is Homeland’s Carrie Mathison IRL
Kanye West's recent publicity tour reminded us of a certain Showtime character.
The other night I was sitting on my couch, listening to Yeezus, watching “Homeland.” Carrie was going on one of her tirades about something, and it got me thinking. I turned up the volume on the TV and turned down the music. Carrie was trying to tell Senator Lockhart something, but from the audience’s perspective it looked, and even seemed, as if she was yelling at him. For those of you who don’t watch Homeland, Carrie suffers from bipolar disorder.
Earlier in the day I had watched the latest of the interviews conducted with Mr. West, where he now famously told Sway that he “aint got the answers!” However, before he had jumped to that conclusion, Mr. West had been making a lot of sense. He had some great ideas, but the route he took to discuss them was a poor one. I’m not saying Mr. West is bipolar, but if you haven’t noticed, there are two sides to his personality. One is the rational, creative, and intelligent side. The other is his controversial, outspoken, and hotheaded side.
I know what you’re thinking — Kanye West is a huge rap mogul and Carrie Mathison is merely a fictional character on a TV show. You’re right. But these two have a lot more in common than you think. (Warning, later seasons’ plot points will be discussed below.)
In “Homeland,” Carrie Mathison, played by actress Claire Danes, is a CIA officer who has just returned from assignment in Iraq. In real life, Kanye West is a jack-of-all-trades, famously known for his music, and most recently, his interest in fashion. The fashion world is to Kanye what the government is to Carrie.
In the first season, Carrie has crucial information for the CIA and the White House. She knows something that no one else is aware of. Carrie knows that Nicholas Brody, a beloved veteran from Iraq, is in fact a terrorist. Instead of trying to rationally communicate her thoughts to her superiors, Carrie instead decides to monitor and investigate into Brody’s life on her own terms. Her inability to be straightforward about her lead and follow protocol makes it impossible to take her seriously.
Similarly, in the beginning of Kanye’s career, he had some preeminent thoughts, too. One of them was the injustice that African Americans still face. During a Hurricane Katrina relief concert in 2005, Kanye got on screen and spoke of our President at the time saying, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” Kanye later said his purpose was to highlight the feeling of insensitivity towards the black community that many had felt for far too long. That would have been a great point worth making, but again, the way he said it made everyone tune out and assume he was simply an irrational celebrity.
Another issue that both Carrie and Kanye suffer with is selfishness versus selflessness. The CIA assumes that Carrie is doing this for her benefit, and the world assumes that Kanye is just an egomaniac. Wrong again, everyone, wrong again. Carrie and Kanye are far from selfish. In fact, they are advocating for the world. Their ideas are not limited to their lives, but are in fact meant to open our eyes to what is going around us.
In the second and third seasons of “Homeland,” Carrie has a close group of confidants who finally have begun to understand her more, and how valuable her ideas are. Let’s say Saul is her Jay Z. The one person who had confidence in her from the beginning but was too high up and worried about his career to defend her or get involved. However, having Saul/Jay Z on your side unfortunately doesn’t protect against those who still want to bring them down.
That’s where Amber Rose and Dana Brody come in. Brody’s daughter Dana used to trust her father with everything she had. She looked up to him as her savior from her terrible mother and her boring/potentially mute brother. Amber used to worship Kanye. He took her from a strip club in Philly and had her star in the video for “Robocop.” Unfortunately, Brody didn’t just hurt Dana, he exposed her to the harsh reality that her parents aren’t perfect, and one could actually be a terrorist. Kanye hurt Amber by publicly seeing multiple women during their relationship. Now, in present day, Brody and Kanye both see Amber and Dana as failures from their past that motivate them to be better.
Recently, both Carrie and Kanye have been acting out. No one important seems to be listening to them but they have a lot to say. Carrie is the only one who knows that even though he’s a “terrorist”, Brody is innocent in the Langley bombing. Carrie knows that Brody wants to make things right for Dana. Kanye has been ranting in interviews and on his Yeezus tour. He wants respect from the people who aren’t giving him it. People like Hedi Slimane, the creator director of Saint Laurent, who thinks of his ideas as a joke. And for Carrie, people like the head of the CIA, who thinks everything that comes out of her mouth is bogus because of her disorder. When people try to limit them, they get frustrated and act out.
At the end of the day, it is unfair to decide that you don’t want to take someone seriously just because his or her approach is foreign to you. Not everyone is great at communicating their ideas, but that doesn’t mean that those ideas are not valuable to you. Kanye is trying to break down the glass ceilings that exist in each respective industry that he enters. That is not easy.
Kanye’s rants are devalued with the way they are presented but contain valuable information to people, while Carrie’s rants are devalued with the way they are presented but contain valuable information to the CIA. One of Kanye’s main points is that he wants to prove himself as more than just a rapper. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps Kanye and Carrie are in on a conspiracy theory that only they know about? Calling them crazy certainly won’t encourage them to share their brilliant ideas with us.
Mr. West wants to be here to stay. In order to do that he wants to put his foot in every door, which may be intimidating to people who are higher up and already more experienced in those industries. He feels like he is being placed in a box as a rapper, and that he doesn’t have the freedom that it seems that he has. His recent hit song “New Slaves” is a perfect example of some of his points. In the song he says, “Meanwhile the DEA/Teamed up with the CCA/They tryna lock niggas up/They tryna make new slaves”. Though simply a rap line in one of his many songs, Kanye has a point that people need to open their eyes to. Slavery isn’t over it is merely redesigned.
I am currently reading an amazing book that a friend recommended to me called “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. The book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. Alexander explains The War on Drugs to the reader, and how black men are targeted by the U.S. criminal justice system.
Kanye caught on to this conspiracy early. Similarly, Carrie caught on to the conspiracy of Brody being a double agent. These people have brilliant minds, we have to encourage them to speak, and not discourage them because of their execution.
To conclude, give crazy-seeming people the benefit of the doubt. Some of our greatest ideas were thought of by the craziest people.
As Marilyn Monroe famously said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring”
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