Seeing as how we're getting into the Holy Season, I've been thinking about Kanye West's miraculous conversion from washed-up rapper to sorta-Christian. He swears that he's sincere, but then again, he also swears that he's running for President in 2024. His new Jesus Is Bitchin album has generated some buzz but it has also led to the Twitter Mob getting their collective chonies in a bunch. Religion has always been such a touchy subject...so let's touch on it.
Back in high school, these two guys I played ball with, Lionel and Lewis, were on the crazy side. Not violent or destructive, just mischievous turned up to 11. When we got to winter break (it used to be called Christmas vacation), they were their usual crazy selves, but when we got back two weeks later, they showed up to school dressed in suits and handing out Jehovah's Witness literature. They would stand in the lunch room and proselytize, telling everybody how they had found the Lord and how they could help us find Him, too.
Having just learned about Will Rogers, I lifted one of his bits and told Lionel, "I don't belong to an organized religion; I'm a Catholic."
We all thought it was hilarious and we told them that it was one of the best gags ever. But they never got out of character and it went on for weeks. After a while, we started getting worried. Back then, school in L.A. started around the autumnal equinox (Sept. 21) and ended around the summer solstice (June 21). So, the end of the first semester was around the end of January. We had a three-day weekend and when we came back to school, Lionel and Lewis were back to normal.
We all congratulated them on their magnificent goof, but they swore that they had been converted, but just couldn't handle the pressure of being that good and that devoted to God. They said that they had fallen short but were better off for having tried. We could not convince them to tell us (what we believed to be) the truth. That's what makes it the greatest trick ever. Decades later, I STILL don't know if they were goofing on us.
I'm fairly certain that Kanye West is goofing on us. We've seen this act before with others. When I was growing up, I saw people who were struggling with drugs and/or alcohol and suddenly found God. I used to believe that they were trading one addiction for another (albeit physically healthier) one. Good for them, I suppose, but I also saw people who did it for effect.
Picasso had his Blue Period; this is Kanye's God Phase. It's really rather lame. It leaked (yeah, right!) that people who were working with him on the Jesus is King album had to forego premarital sex during the making of the record. My favorite part of this whole thing is that he apparently found a god for Kim Kardashian, as well. I saw her being interviewed the other day on TV. She still had her usual 12 pounds of makeup on her face, but the outfit she was wearing looked like she had borrowed it from Aunt Lydia on "The Handmaid's Tale."
A few weeks ago on "Saturday Night Live," Michael Che was having fun with Kanye and his Jesus Is King album. Che said, "I mean, he (Kanye) used to be one of the coolest black dudes on Earth. Now he's showing up to events in sweatpants and orthopedic sneakers, listening to Kenny G and trying to get black people to like Donald Trump. How long before this guy changes his name to Cathy?"
Then he added, "Now, you might think that I'm crazy, but about five years ago, there was this fella named Bruce Jenner and he moved to Calabasas..."
People went absolutely nuts over it. Hysterical crowd reactions and the fact that Donald Trump uses it on a daily basis are among the reasons that the creators of Twitter are going to go straight to hell when they die (if not sooner). People accused Che of being "transphobic" and of engaging in the practice of "deadnaming," which is defined as referring to a trans person's birth name instead of their chosen name. According to one thing online, deadnaming is an act of violence toward a trans person. GTFOH!
I treat every person—gay, straight, trans, Republican, user of vaping products—with the respect that he or she deserves. (And if you start lecturing me about pronouns, you deserve very little respect. There are way more important things than that.) Not everybody is doing something wrong all of the time. Just calm down.
I've always been a sports guy. I remember Bruce Jenner in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. His performance in the decathlon was one of the great sports moments of all time. Am I not supposed to recall it as such? Caitlyn Jenner won the Gold medal back when she was Bruce Jenner. Why does that offend anybody? I sincerely hope that Caitlyn Jenner has found peace and happiness at this stage of life. But I also wish that all of the people who work themselves into a lather over little or nothing would take their deadname and shove it up what used to be called their rectum.