If you’ve spent any time on social media over the past few weeks, you’ll no doubt be aware of Kanye’s Instagram. That virtual blackhole that Kanye West has been using to publicly berate his ex wife Kim Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson?
Being eccentric and opinionated is part of Kanye’s brand and the world has been his stage for many years, and I don’t just mean in the music sense.
From interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMAs acceptance speech in 2009 to his full-blown war with Drake, the rapper has become something of a spectacle that fans and the rest eagerly watch like it’s own form of car-crash reality tv.
But if you’ve found yourself enjoying the tea or laughing at the bizarreness of what you’ve seen splashed across his social media, you might want to shift your way of thinking.
Something about this particular instance is noticeably different to those other times. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill celebrity feud. This isn’t spicy celebrity tea. This isn’t hot goss. This is a man with bipolar disorder who is in the middle of a breakdown that we absolutely should not be witnessing, and that breakdown has now crossed the line into abuse.
Pete Davidson has, unfortunately, become the one of the targets of Kanye’s rage. The rapper’s latest songs have included violent lyrics about the SNL star and in some of his Instagram posts, he even encouraged his followers to attack Pete if they were to ever see him on the street.
Kanye later shared texts that appeared to have been sent by Kim in which she pleads with him to stop threatening Pete as it’s creating “a dangerous and scary environment.”
He’s also exhibited behaviour that’s been designed to harass and humiliate Kim, including sending a truck full of roses to her home and maligning her parenting on social media for all the world to see.
Just remember that behind these group chat centre-piece worthy posts, are four kids who are watching their dad spiral out of control, a heartbroken/ concerned mother/ ex-wife who is copping abuse from her ex husband, her new boyfriend whose life has been threatened, and a man suffering from bipolar.
It’s very much public knowledge that Kanye West has bipolar. Speaking to Forbes in 2019, West said: “‘Crazy’ is a word that’s not gonna be used loosely in the future.
“Understand that this is actually a condition that people can end up in, be born into, driven into and go in and out. And there’s a lot of people that have been called that ‘C’ word that have ended up on this cover.”
During an interview with David Letterman that same year, West said that while he’s having an episode, everything can feel like “a conspiracy.”
“You feel the government is putting chips in your head,” he told Letterman, adding that he only got his diagnosis two years prior to their interview. “You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things.”
This isn’t the first time he’s used his public platform to harass and humiliate Kim. In 2020, Kanye went on what was described as a “Twitter tirade” against his family, not unlike his recent series of posts. He claimed his family sent two doctors to his ranch in Wyoming, to “51/50” him, referring to an involuntary psychiatric hospitalisation “of up to 72 hours for assessment, evaluation and crisis intervention.”
He also accused the Kardashian-Jenner clan of “white supremacy” and referred to his mother-in-law Kris Jenner as “Kris Jong-Un.”
As this was happening, Kim took to Instagram to explain West’s behaviour and pleaded with fans to show “compassion and empathy” for Kanye and their situation.
“As many of you know, Kanye has [bipolar] disorder,” she wrote. “Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words [sometimes] do not align with his intentions.”
Given that we’re armed with all this knowledge about Kanye and his mental state, it seems irresponsible to be mocking, maligning or showing anything but care and concern as we see his posts unfold.
And I don’t just mean care and concern for Kanye, I also feel that we need to be respectful of Kim and their four children and also of Pete. We need to recognise that what we’re witnessing is abuse at the hands of a man who is mentally unwell.
If we’ve learned one thing from the #FreeBritney movement, it’s that just because a celebrity is experiencing a mental breakdown, doesn’t mean that it’s a spectacle to sit back and watch whilst munching on popcorn. It’s unfortunate that their breakdown is occurring in the public arena, but we should still treat them as if it were a friend or sibling of ours who’s unwell. People now look back at the treatment of Britney in 2007 and shake their heads at the fact that her mental health issues became tabloid fodder and no one showed compassion for her. We must learn from our mistakes this time around and treat this situation delicately and with the respect and care that it needs.
At the time of reporting, Kanye has archived all of his posts, except two. The first is a photo of Kanye on-stage with a caption in which he apologises to Kim and appears to take accountability for his actions.
“I’m working on my communication,” he tells his fans. “Thanks everybody for supporting me. I know sharing screenshots 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.”
And the other post is a quote that reads, “God… please watch over me and keep my mind sane. I could use it right now. To anyone who feels alone, I’m with you and I love you.”