Trevor Noah made a respectful plea to Kanye West, but Ye refused to hear it.
Kanye West seems to revel in being a provocateur. It’s almost as if he can’t exist in a state of just being; he has to be pushing a limit somewhere. It produces a horrible balancing act between the beloved artist and the cultural troll that we all wish would just chill out. We’ve all watched what feels like a downward spiral in recent years, to the point that as ex-wife Kim Kardashian was ending their marriage, she pleaded with her audience to show him compassion while trying to understand his struggle with bipolar disorder. But with his erratic behavior on social media and in his music, many have expressed concern for Kardashian’s safety. Last night, Trevor Noah perfectly encapsulated the problem with Ye’s behavior towards his ex-wife and her boyfriend, comic Pete Davidson, and how it is a high-profile example of the insidiousness of domestic abuse.
Noah starts by pointing out that the highly-publicized love triangle has evolved past meaningless celebrity gossip. He mentions the fact that Ye made a claymation music video last month for his song “Eazy” in which he buries Pete Davidson alive and decapitates him. Ye also made another animated video for the song in which a skinned monkey beats up “Skete,” as he calls him, because one video threatening violence against his ex’s new partner wasn’t enough. And on “City of Gods” with Alicia Keys and Fivio Foreign, he makes references to sending “goons” to SNL to beat up Davidson and possessively references Kim as still being his wife. Trevor Noah points out that even though Kim has gone out of her way to court the public eye since the dawn of her career, she doesn’t deserve this kind of harassment.
More importantly, though, Noah contextualizes the celebrity scandal of it all into the sensitive, real-world issue of domestic violence. He points out that while Ye’s aggressive videos and lyrics can be some version of art therapy, “therapy can be therapy,” too. It’s a point that’s been hard to ignore in recent weeks: that Ye seems to need real help, but no one is intervening. Noah wisely observes that this whole saga is a loud answer to the question of why women often don’t leave their abusers — because “a lot of women realize that when they do leave, the guy will get even crazier.” It brings Noah to his larger point: that in circumstances similar to these, situations can quickly escalate to actions that can’t be taken back. He brings up his mother’s struggle with domestic violence and how authorities, friends, and family downplaying her reality led to her being shot in the head by Trevor’s step-father. It’s a horrific story that Trevor vulnerably lays bare to illustrate just how serious these situations can get.
“It puts society in a precarious position,” Trevor admits. He asks if this is the kind of tragedy we will eventually have to admit that we saw coming while doing nothing to stop it. And while none of us normal people can do anything to change the situation between Kim, Pete, and Ye, we can change how we conversationally frame it. Because situations like these shouldn’t be fodder for tabloid gossip, even if they involve some of the rich, famous, and ridiculous characters we know in pop culture. As Noah argues, if Kim Kardashian of all people can’t get her ex to stop harassing her, what are regular women to do in similar circumstances?
In true Kanye fashion, it’s taken less than 24 hours for him to fire back in a way that only serves to reinforce Trevor’s points. Much like when he threatened to have D.L. Hughley “hurt” recently after the comedian said in a VladTV interview that Ye was “stalking” Kim, Ye is now lobbing racial slurs at Trevor. In the early hours of Wednesday morning, clearly after having seen The Daily Show segment, Ye posted a photo of Noah’s Wikipedia page with a caption that referred to Noah as a “k**n,” a derogatory term used to describe Black people who work against Black causes. In the same tirade, he also posted more Pete Davidson and D.L. Hughley vitriol, and then ended his online fever rant by praising Michael Che. It all makes no sense and is genuinely alarming. It all also makes it very clear that Ye is not digesting constructive criticism right now. But good for Trevor Noah for trying to respectfully address the situation, and for turning a celebrity gossip story into an informative and important PSA against domestic violence.