Last Friday, Kanye West nearly made the Internet fall in on itself when he made a joke about Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me” holding his collaboration with Jay-Z, “H•A•M,” back from the top spot on iTunes. “Yo Britney, I’m really happy for you and I’mma let you be #1, but me and Jay-Z single is one of the best songs of all time. LOL,” he typed. It was funny! It was sorta self-aware! And of course it got completely distorted by people who can’t read inflection into anything online—including and especially gossip bloggers, who seem to get bonuses every time they can have a pearl-clutching “OMG YOU ARE A MEANIEEEEE” reaction to something that was clearly meant to be funny.
At the time, Kanye got irritated about the reaction, deleting the offending Tweet and saying, “I thought LOL signified a joke… I didn’t get the 2011 LOL doesn’t signify a joke anymore memo… LOL or something else I guess.” He then went back to rooting for the Bears and complaining about beef-flavored pineapple in 140-character increments and that seemed to be that… until last night, when an MSNBC consumer tipped him off to his being name-checked there.
It’s unclear whether the tipster meant MSNBC the channel or MSNBC the web site, but the words “Twitter War” do make a cameo in the headline of this post on the MSNBC site; it’s a three-day-old item that was syndicated from Us Weekly and it gives a little bit more context to the “LEAVE BRITNEY ALOOOONE” reaction that emanated from certain quarters. Including Britney’s manager Adam Leber, who took over his charge’s account to say, “Thanks for ‘letting’ us be #1.” Meow!
Anyway, this bit of poking elicited a reaction from Kanye that was probably not surprising, and also not really all that wrong! (He also debunked the “Kanye-face watch” item—which we, whoops, posted the other day. Sorry about that!) “How can u “let” someone be number one??!! That was the whole joke!!!” he said. “I know intelligent people know this so bear with me. When I said the comment about Brittney I was giving her props for being #1 not dissing her at all! But stop making it seem that my aim is to hurt or down people! That’s just not my style! As pop stars we’re all in this shit together! We on the inside of the TV!”
And he’s right. But of course, “Kanye says something funny and slightly self-deprecating” doesn’t fit into the overall Kanye Narrative, so rivalries have to be ginned up and the stupidest readings have to be applied to anything funny he might say. (And it was funny—I gasped with laughter upon reading the original Tweet, in part because he was pretty much flogging a way-past-its-sell-by-date joke in order to poke fun at himself. What with comedy being tragedy (here, the tragedy of overused jokes) plus time and all.) Granted, ‘Ye might want to point the finger at the Us staff instead of the poor MSNBC wire-service editors who syndicated the post from that site, but his being rankled over being included in crudely plotted fan fiction written by people who never met a joke they couldn’t completely misconstrue stands.