September 14, 2009

Beyonce Saves "Act An Ass" Day

My goodness, somebody declared this past Sunday an impromptu "Act An Ass Day" in the black celebrity community without telling me. Kicking off the foolishness was the always interesting, never boring, Serena Williams. Under relentless pressure from unseeded wild card Kim Clijsters (returning to competition after taking a break to marry and have a child), Serena was losing the match and her cool. After losing the first set she pulverizes her racket:

Already having been penalized earlier for pulverizing her racket, Serena completely loses it when she is called for what turned out to be a bogus foot fault from an overzealous line judge on match point. Check it:

It was an ugly display and it cost Serena the match, $10,000, some dignity and a nasty hit to her public image. Even mama Oracene remarked that she could have kept her cool. Serena is a champion, but she blew the opportunity to show the heart of one with this performance. I think the Williams sisters have had to bear a lot for their success in tennis. The reaction to them in the tennis world for many years and SOME of the heat directed at Serena for this episode smacks of the same kind of crazy tax that Obama is paying (brothers no less, showing up to speeches openly carrying weapons? Come on!) The Daily News aptly noted some differing standards at play "We condemn Serena and Venus for juggling business interests, while applauding Clijsters for quitting the game completely to have a baby."

Years in the game with often it seems only grudging respect for their accomplishments and saddled to a degree with an undeserved "tennis players you love to hate" role, mayhap we should be applauding Serena for such a minimal amount of truculence in a stellar career. Meh, maybe not. When mama Oracene says you should have kept your cool, the reality is, you blew it. It was a very classless display and I'm quite sure Oracene raised those children with appropriate hometraining (they wouldn't have accomplished what they have without it) Its sad and upsetting to see so many take such delight in seeing her embarrass herself (Even Dr. Laura seemed to take an extra helping of satisfaction in highlighting Serena's poor behavior). This episode doesn't make Serena the devil. It just means she's still got some growing up to do. Who doesn't? But she sure did kick off "Act An Ass Day" with a bang.

Not to be outdone, Kanye West figured to close out "Act An Ass Day" with a spectacular feat of boorishness at the MTV VMA awards. Kanye lost his mama under tragic circumstances and some have remarked that he has been even less right than usual since then. He completely showed his no class behind at the VMAs. Taylor Swift, part of the Disney pantheon of stars and a performer my own 9 year old daughter likes, won the best Female Video award. As she is making her acceptance speech, Kanye crashes the stage, and snatches the mike from her to proclaim to the crowd that Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time and essentially that Swift didn't deserve the award. Check the foolishness:

OMG, where do I start? Taylor Swift is all of seventeen years old and she was brought to tears backstage by Kanye's savaging of her moment in the sun. Its one of the most stunning acts of unnecessary cruelty and stupidity in public I have ever seen, like clubbing a kitten to death in front of your neighbors for kicks and thinking its cool. The crowd reaction was stunned incredulity at first, which morphed quickly to open hostility expressed with loud boos, to which Kanye through up the one finger salute (that move wasn't caught on camera). The stupid quotient of the moment is heightened by two additional factors: 1. Beyonce's "Single Lady" video is not the best of all time and 2. since when does Beyonce require help from Kanye? Last time I checked, she wasn't missing any meals. Mega recording artist, married to another mega recording artist, movies, top charting records and visibility that hasn't reached saturation point yet. Winning Video of the Year later for "Single Ladies" only further drives home the point. Kanye was booted out of the show and issued a sorry pretense of an apology on his blog later that was so indigent in sincerity that the resulting storm of protest crashed his site.

He issued a second apology later, stating “I feel like Ben Stiller in Meet the Parents when he messed up everything and Robert DeNiro asked him to leave…,” Kanye writes. “That was Taylor’s moment and I had no right in any way to take it from her. I am truly sorry.

Sorry Kanye, thats not going to cut it. You destroyed a young girls moment in the sun, a moment she can't ever get back. An off hand apology like that is still lacking in sincerity and frankly, you need to issue it in person in front of an audience like the one where you gave the offense. It was a stupid business move, a stupid human move, a stupid industry move. Kanye was sitting down front with Beyonce and Jay-Z. Guests at the VMAs are permitted liquor and Kanye reportedly had a bottle of cognac with him. See what drink combined with stupid will get you? This is brand destruction with a bullet. Kanye attempted a mumbling, fumbling bit of damage control on Jay Leno tonight. Kudos to Leno who had the guts to ask him if he thought his momma would have been disappointed in his behavior, which Kanye had the decency to acknowledge she would have. Other than that bit of honesty (I thought he was going to cry for a moment), his comments were a jumbled mess of garbled self pity.

Which brings us to our unexpected savior of "Act An Ass Day",.... Beyonce. The night wore on after the Kanye flipout, punctuated by the silliness of Little Mama jumping on stage during Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes' set. The major award of the night comes round in the form of the Video of the Year which goes to Beyonce. In what has to be one of the classiest, savviest brand protection and enhancement operations under fire I've ever seen, Beyonce takes the stage and promptly turns over her moment to Taylor Swift, letting her have the moment Kanye jacked earlier in the evening. Check the cool under fire:

I've never been unsure about Beyonce's business savvy, but I have wondered sometimes if she had any class. That move put my doubts to rest. In a few words and with one gracious gesture, she delivered a rebuke to Kanye, enhanced and protected her brand and helped a young woman get past an ugly moment by replacing it with a beautiful one. Business savvy and class factor...confirmed. Beyonce salvages "Act An Ass Day". My hero.