Kanye West stirs up controversy with nude celebrities in ‘Famous’
(Note strong language in paragraph 13)
By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rapper Kanye West set tongues wagging on Monday with his latest music video that features nude portrayals of high profile celebrities including pop singer Taylor Swift, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and comedian Bill Cosby.
The music video for “Famous,” which premiered on E! News, featured low-resolution footage depicting 12 celebrities sleeping next to each other with West situated in the middle, nestled between Swift and his wife, reality star Kim Kardashian.
Other celebrities include former U.S. President George W. Bush, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, rapper Chris Brown, R&B singer Ray J, transgender reality star Caitlyn Jenner, model Amber Rose and singer Rihanna, who provided vocals for the song.
E! blurred out depictions of breasts and genitals. It is not known if the portrayals are paintings or wax statues, but in some cases it appears to be the actual celebrity posing.
The video ends by pausing on the sleeping faces of Swift, Rihanna and Brown over the audio of heavy breathing.
Representatives for West, Kardashian, Jenner, Trump and Cosby declined to comment on the video. Representatives for the other celebrities did not immediately return requests for comment.
E! News host Jason Kennedy said “Kanye wants everyone to know this is not a video. This is an art visual.”
The imagery for “Famous” is inspired by artist Vincent Desiderio’s 2008 painting “Sleep,” which featured people in various states of undress sleeping next to each other.
Desiderio called West’s video “a tableau that was disturbingly familiar, rapturously beautiful and frighteningly uncanny,” in an essay published Monday for W Magazine.
West, known for often embarking on rambling ‘tweetstorms’ on social media, held the first screening of the “Famous” video in Los Angeles late on Friday.
The video quickly became a trending topic online over the weekend especially due to West’s complicated history with Swift.
The rapper famously interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and snatched her microphone award out of her hand. The duo buried the hatchet at last year’s MTV Video Music awards, but the truce did not last long.
The two fell out again in February after West’s song “Famous,” off his latest album “The Life of Pablo,” featured the lyric “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex, I made that bitch famous.”
West claimed Swift had approved the lyric, but the pop singer’s representative said Swift was never aware of the lyric and had cautioned the rapper about the “strong misogynistic message” in the song.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Mary Milliken)