A year ago, Kanye West was in the news because he had premiered a high-concept and well-publicized Christmas “opera” at Lincoln Center. I wrote about it then, and today I am bringing this earlier reflection back so that people have another chance to find it.
I do this, in part, because of how interestingly this syncs up with my reflection three days ago, when I pondered what makes a satisfying song about the birth of Jesus—one that neither abstracts from difficult social issues when taking about angels proclaiming peace on earth, nor propounds fake hope when taking about joy.
In the case of Kanye’s opera, this ramifies as questions about how he handled the story of King Herod slaughtering the children and how he presented his newfound faith in a gospel of “I’ve got mine, Jack.” As we will see, Kanye does both these things in fascinating ways—not least in light of his alliance with Donald Trump and how he offers us a nativity pageant with a black cast to compare with the black founding fathers in Hamilton—although on balance I found his effort largely unsatisfying.
My piece was called “I Watched Kanye’s Christmas Pageant So You Don’t Have To.” But here it is, if you do want to give it a try.
This also links to my ruminations a few months ago on how it can be that our gangster/grifter/president can try to wish COVID away with positive thinking or to cure COVID (that is, other people’s COVID, not his own which cost taxpayers a million dollars) by drinking bleach.
If you follow the link to my piece, you will find several other Kanye songs, not just the “Mary” nativity pageant—songs that are more interesting than the pageant is. But I’m only counting this as one day of Christmas songs because Kanye doesn’t deserve more than that, plus his songs aren’t all about the holiday.
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