Kanye West finds his inner Hitler
Know who really, really gets Adolf Hitler? Kanye West. Because when you think of brown-shirted white supremacists goose-stepping in time to a Wagner opera, you totally think Kanye West. Not true, you say? Too bad. Kanye West agrees with us.
West's personal Beer Hall Putsch happened this weekend at England's Big Chill Festival, where he was the closing act. At one pivotal point during his set, West experienced a revelation: He needed to educate the 40,000 people in the audience, right that very minute, on the two most important topics in the world: history and Kanye West.
So he said, "I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I'm ... insane, like I'm Hitler. One day the light will shine through, and one day people will understand everything I ever did."
You're welcome, booing fans!
West, of course, is not the first celebrity to get loose with the Hitler references. Megan Fox used to have a job providing eye candy for the "Transformers" franchise until executive producer Steven Spielberg reportedly got wind of a certain Hitler reference and had her fired. The reference was to director Michael Bay. Fox had said, "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is."
Other celebrities who have invoked Hitler include disgraced couturier John Galliano -- who, literally, loves Hitler -- and Lars Von Trier, who put his foot in his Danish mouth during the latest Cannes Film Festival. Von Trier said, "I understand Hitler, but I think he did some wrong things." He later apologized. (Lars, seriously, next time, just put a Danish in your mouth. It's tastier, and it won't get you kicked out of a film festival.)
So why do celebrities keep bringing up Hitler even though they know it's just going to antagonize folks? Each celebrity Hitler gaffe is different, of course, but West's zinger might be the most clueless, according to two psychologists who treat stars.
"For Kanye West to compare himself to Hitler in that way, it suggests a certain level of narcissism," posited psychologist Jenn Berman, who treats celebrities at her Beverly Hills practice. "It was ignorant. To empathize with someone responsible for the deaths of millions of people, it can indicate a lack of sensitivity to how other people are going to feel about your comments. And, again, it can be a sign of narcissism."
And, just in case we're not totally clear here, Kanye West is a narcissist.
"Kanye West's referencing of Hitler is about narcissism and identifying with people in positions of power," said Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist. "I think everyone can agree that he has had issues with narcissism in his career, which lends itself to associating himself with fame and power, whether positive or negative.
"In his comments, he also referenced Michael Jordan. By referencing both of these men, he connects himself with both the most famous and most infamous names in his mind. I don't get the sense that he is associating himself with Hitler's belief system –- he's obviously aware of racism –- but due to his narcissistic tendencies, he sees himself as big and powerful as men like Hitler or Jordan."
Or maybe West is about to do an album of Wagnerian opera covers instead. You just never know.
-- Leslie Gornstein
Photo: Kanye West in New York City in June 6. Credit: Andrew Kelly / Reuters