Illustration by Ambivalently Yours
As the whole world continues to weigh in on Kanye’s “Famous” music video, and President Bush remains the only one not flipping out about it, Piers Morgan has decided to attack Kim Kardashian and her feminism. In an essay he wrote for the Daily Mail this week, Morgan asks, “How can Kim Kardashian call herself a feminist and collude with Kanye turning women into pieces of meat?”
Calling West’s video a “shockingly tacky, hideously distasteful, darkly sinister porn movie,” Morgan also quotes Lena Dunham’s Facebook post in which she expresses her anger over the clip, comparing it to a snuff film and representation of rape culture. “If it was my daughter Kanye was violating in this disgraceful way,” he says, “I’d be round his house now with the L.A.P.D.” He continues, “Perhaps Taylor’s new boyfriend Tom Hiddleston will have his own way of dealing with such a revolting slur.”
He then criticizes Mr. and Mrs. West for their exploitation of young women: “Shame on you for making it and shame on your wife for so enthusiastically endorsing it.”
“[The video] makes yet further mockery of Kim’s claim to be some sort of feminist icon,” he chastises. “As with her pathetic topless bird-flipping selfies, this video actually serves the complete opposite purpose, portraying women as vulnerable pieces of meat for the delectation of the slathering public.”
The entire essay is just Morgan acting like some knight in shining armor, coming to helpless Taylor Swift’s rescue. Take his “If it were my daughter…” and Tom Hiddleston quotes—apparently girls are completely incapable of standing up for themselves, and he must then do it for them. “Poor Taylor,” as he calls her, is so hurt by the video, and so weak, that her boyfriend Tom, or Morgan himself, need to step in.
Let’s be real—Taylor Swift is not some powerless “young woman” being exposed to “public sexual humiliation” by a random older man. In fact, she’s one of the most powerful people in the entire world, regardless of sex. She doesn’t need Morgan or Hiddleston to fight her battles for her. If she’s actually as pissed about the video as Morgan says she is, we’ll hear about it from Taylor herself—most likely through song.
“Famous” may be disturbing to some, but none of the people represented are helpless victims. If Morgan wants to argue the video embodies rape culture and the women shown are being exploited, why does he only discuss Taylor Swift—the one white, straight, cisgender female presented in it? Kanye also included Rihanna next to Chris Brown, the man who infamously abused her, but Morgan doesn’t even mention her.
Untitled (We Don’t Need Another Hero), Barbara Kruger, 1987
He quotes Vincent Desiderio, the artist who created the painting West’s video was based on, but doesn’t criticize the original artwork, which pictures naked and anonymous subjects. The only reason anyone seems to be upset by the video is because West included recognizable celebrities, especially our favorite girl-next-door, Taylor Swift. Dunham discusses her own relationship with art and the nude body: “I don’t have a hip cool reaction, because seeing a woman I love like Taylor Swift (fuck that one hurt to look at, I couldn’t look), a woman I admire like Rihanna or Anna, reduced to a pair of waxy breasts made by some special effects guy in the Valley, it makes me feel sad and unsafe and worried for the teenage girls who watch this and may not understand that grainy roving camera as the stuff of snuff films.”
Does that mean she would’ve liked the video had it shown her enemies, or women who were completely anonymous? Or what if a woman was responsible for making the “waxy breasts?” And what if she made them in Santa Monica instead?
Though she does reference Rihanna and Wintour, she also says Swift’s body was the one she couldn’t look at. Neither Dunham nor Morgan mention Caitlyn Jenner, and like Morgan, Lena is focused on Taylor Swift, posing questions about the role her race, age and status as America’s Sweetheart play in the response people are having to the video.
Ultimately, Kim’s cameo doesn’t undermine her feminism, and Piers Morgan definitely doesn’t have the right to decide who is or isn’t feminist, or what constitutes a feminist action. Morgan is a dude, and feminism is based on a woman’s right to choose. And if I were Swift, I’d be more insulted by his and Dunham’s insinuation I need someone else to fight my battles, than of my appearance in the video itself.