We can’t let a chaotic persona excuse a pattern of seriously concerning behavior.
Another day, another Ye saga — at least, that’s how most of the Internet has reacted to the rapper’s escalating online behavior. While the rapper formerly known as Kanye West had already taken multiple public jabs at his soon-to-be ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her boyfriend Pete Davidson over the past few months, Ye escalated things in recent days.
In since-deleted posts over Instagram, Ye fed the Internet with: memes about Kid Cudi (who Ye said will not be on his upcoming album Donda 2, due to Cudi’s friendship with Davidson) Billie Eilish, and Davidson; messy (and false) insinuations about Davidson’s involvement with Ariana Grande while she was with the late Mac Miller; and, most concerning of all, screenshots of private text messages he’s had with Davidson and a frightened Kim, respectively. Then, on Monday, the same day reports broke that Ye and his girlfriend Julia Fox had called it quits, the rapper sent a truckload of roses to Kardashian for Valentine’s Day, an act that some have compared to love bombing.
This string of events, of course, comes after other recent incidents in which Ye has brought his family affairs out into the public — from his dispute over his daughter North’s use of Tiktok, to his apparent inability to attend the birthday party of another of his children, Chicago. To many, this new set of weekend posts is, from a bird’s eye view, just another string of events reflecting Ye’s prototypical, possibly strategic messiness, particularly as it coincides with the run-up to a supposed Feb. 22 album release.
In the reality-distortion apparatus that is the cult of celebrity, we perceive someone like Ye’s actions on social media simply as reinforcement of an inherently limited idea of a person; and in Ye’s case, that happens to be a public identity that is entwined with and even defined by his inability to be anything but candid, unguarded, and “real.” Ironically, that idea of trademark Ye rawness means we’ve become nonchalant, even entertained, about actions that in this case are seriously concerning and also distinct from his past dramas.
While his stretches of controversy over the years, particularly since 2016, have run through a cyclical mixture of shock, sensationalism, and concern over his mental health, the incidents have largely avoided him repeatedly and publicly targeting others in such a way, let alone an ex-partner. “IF YOU SEE SKETE IN REAL LIFE SCREAM AT YHE LOOSER AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS AND SAY KIMYE FOREVER,” Ye wrote in one post among many taking aim at Davidson, who he has begun to call “Skete.”
“U are creating a dangerous and scary environment and someone will hurt Pete and this will all be your fault,” Kardashian wrote in a text that Ye screenshotted and posted online. In the caption he wrote, “Please nobody do anything physical to Skete, I’m going to handle the situation myself.” (The second slide of the post showed a still from the film Baby Boy, of Ving Rhames putting Tyrese in a chokehold.) In another screenshotted text, Kim asked, “Why can’t you keep any of our conversations private ???” To which Ye responded, “Cause I got a text from my favorite person in the world. I’m your number one fan. Why wouldn’t I tell everyone!!!!”
Some have noted that the expression of concern may be enhanced by people falling prey to historical tropes casting Black men as dangerous or predatory, particularly in relation to white women. Yet the escalation from the public declarations of love to the invasive screenshots, stalker-like captions, and the bizarre truck of roses — all of it is tipping the scales from messy pining to legitimate harassment and potential abuse. As others have noted, any behavior like this in a normal situation, untethered by our altered perceptions of celebrity drama, would be enough to consider a restraining order.
While the posts have been deleted, it also begs the question as to whether or not Ye’s online behavior might violate Instagram’s community guidelines. Part of the platform’s rules read: “Serious threats of harm to public and personal safety aren't allowed. This includes specific threats of physical harm as well as threats of theft, vandalism, and other financial harm.” Mic has reached out to Instagram for comment; this story will be updated once a response is received.
Regardless, while it seems implausible that Ye himself is going to actually attack Davidson, his harassment of Kim begs for legitimate intervention that apparently came on Tuesday and that even Ye was receptive to.
“I’ve learned that using all caps makes people feel like I’m screaming at them,” he wrote in the caption of his post. “I’m working on my communication. I can benefit from a team of creative professionals, organizers, mobilizers and community leaders. Thank everybody for supporting me. I know sharing screen shots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim. I take accountability. I’m still learning in real time. I don’t have all the answers. To be good leader is to be a good listener.”
It’s not enough to say “Kanye is being Kanye” to let a chaotic persona excuse a pattern of seriously concerning behavior. Hopefully, even he’s starting to realize this, too. “To the public and the press: Sometimes people call me crazy,” Ye wrote in a caption from one of his posts over the weekend, “but to be in love is to be crazy about something and I am crazy about my family.”