Everybody likes Taylor Swift.
You can't have the moment Swift is having - crossing over from Country to Pop, and not be well liked, in a general way, by pretty much all concerned. Yes, she's a little bland and her big successes - Love Story, and You Belong With Me are treacly, fairy tale romance singles... but when you can leaven that sweetness with a song like White Horse ("I'm not a princess, this ain't a fairy tale... and it's too late for you and your white horse... to come around"), clearly, there's a lot going on.
At nineteen. And you wrote all of it.
That, really, is what makes Kanye West's behavior so appalling; it would be one thing if Taylor Swift were just some American Idol winner, processed and polished beyond all recognition (that woud be Kellie Pickler, for those who don't know), but Swift belonged on the stage just as much as the young women she competes with in the marketplace. Watching the VMA crowd - Pink, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, hell, even Madonna - you could see these women flash with the recognition of a kindred spirit: they had been her, too, at 19. And Kanye had no right to step on that, or take it away.
Let's pause for a minute too and just point out the obvious: who the hell cares about the VMAs? Does anyone really believe they recognize the real breadth and artistry in music videos? Can anything really encompass what has become, clearly a short film art form as well as a commercial vehicle? Can you recall anyone who's won the award Swift won, ever? Me, either. So let's not wax too rhapsodic. It's a minor award, and the real excitement has always been the balance of control and anarchy in the show itself. Those are what we remember.
And so, Kanye added to the chaos. And yeah, he's real sorry about it, and wasn't Neyonce gracious to try and right the wrong. But still; one reason the right had, essentially, no way to add fuel to their massed outrage is that the distance from Kanye West to Joe Wilson was about 3 inches and 2 days. You want to end rude, disruptive behavior... well, start somewhere. And all of this before we get into the mess that Serena Williams created for herself.
Of course, David Brooks gets it: these are rude, unthinking times. Ones where people feel free to insert themselves into whatever moment however they feel. The right has tried, for years, to blame a permissive, liberal culture.. but we're way past that when last week had Joe Wilson and the weekend had the DC tea party. No one, it seems, remembers the words "boundaries" or "standards" never mind fundamental decency. It's nice that Kanye's sorry... it'd be nicer if he'd never done it in the first place. Or never did it again. But then, as long as we, as a society keep rewarding the bad behavior, rather than the better ones - when we make Kanye the story, rather than the grace of Taylor Swift in a horrible moment, or the graciousness of Beyonce Knowles to try and make things right - we're already answering what matters - the scandal, the bad behavior, and the outrage. Surely... we can do better than this.