Kanye West's Truman Show : The New Yorker
Jared Sperli stashed this in fun
Kanye West has been talking a lot recently. One televised interview was pure treacle, which isn’t too surprising given that his baby’s grandmother was in the room. Then he got loose off that Goose, to more entertaining effect. Most recently, Zane Lowe, of BBC Radio 1, brought out the Kanye we’d been waiting for: the impulsive, gifted child, brimming with ideas but too excited to express them coherently.
Speaking to Lowe, Kanye compared his most recent album to a hologram from “Star Wars,” and himself to Michael Jackson. He laid claim to the leather jogging pant, and seemed surprised by his own genuinely unintended puns. He also expounded on his previously disclosed intention to become a designer—“not just clothing but water-bottle design, architecture, everything.” He justified these second-career ambitions by saying, “I’ve reached a point in my life where my Truman Show boat has hit the painting.”
As someone who wrote recently about the “Truman Show” delusion, this allusion gives me pause. Not because I fear that Kanye is a Truman patient—while his may not be the world’s most stable brain, his delusions of grandeur seem firmly nonbizarre—but because I worry that the trope will devolve into cliché. The image of the boat hitting the painting is a brilliant one—the terrifying crunch, the corporeality of the canvas—and it is unsurprising that Kanye West, a connoisseur of smart images, chose that one instead of, say, the green curtain of digits from “The Matrix,” an image that has aged far less gracefully. Still, it would be a shame if “Truman Show boat” came to signify just any earth-shattering event, the way “Rosebud” has come to be associated with any twist ending. “The Truman Show” was relevant in 1998 because it was timely, even prescient; but it remains a classic because it exposes something timeless and specific about human psychology. It has nothing to do with music production and water-bottle design. A few seconds later, Kanye said, “I have reached the glass ceiling as a creative person, as a celebrity.” That’s a good metaphor.