By Mathilda O'Neill, Third Year, Film & Television with Innovation
Following a time skip of six years, Act III ‘Awakening’ deals with the Kanye we know today. The new difficult, offensive and unfortunately unstable Kanye. In footage that feels increasingly hard to watch, the reality of Ye’s existence is exposed with brutal honesty.
So here we are at the end. What was once a joyous capturing of Ye’s rise ends - as T.S. Elliot put it “not with a bang, but with a whimper.” There’s a kind of sick irony in this final act, with three hours dedicated essentially to the thrill and excitement of his rise, now that his utter faith in himself has come to fruition, the victory is hollow and only seems to bring him alienation.
Kanye’s controversies have finally come into focus, with the inclusion of footage from his 2020 pep rally and backed up with his own words during Coodie’s filming, these topics are at last up for discussion. In this act, Ye makes a number of statements that are morally abhorrent and politically dangerous. At multiple points he rambles incoherently about his relationship with God, and somehow connects this with abortion and the moral failure he believes it to be.
In fact, incoherent doesn’t do these moments justice: they are troubling, not the leapfrogging political nonsense of a Jordan Peterson or Ben Shapiro but genuinely difficult to watch because of the display of mental instability they truly are. His controversial views are expressed as blind ramblings, propped up by a circle of blind lemmings who’d never dream of saying anything against him. This is not to condone his words but rather convey the genuinely difficult experience of watching them be expressed.
The causes for this aren’t dissected and spelled plainly out for the audience, but are rather gestured to and for this directors Simmons and Oozah deserve a great deal of praise. In this act’s opening moments, we’re taken back to 2002 to see Rhymefest take Ye to task for describing himself as a genius saying: “Who are you to call yourself a genius … For you to feel disrespected, cause somebody don’t think you’re something, you gotta get yourself together man.” Ye replies “I just feel like it was really funny for me to even get offended by you not calling me genius. Like how arrogant is that?”
His days as a rising star are long gone, Ye is now, undoubtedly, on the mountaintop and no longer has to trouble himself being around people who won’t tell him exactly what he wants to hear. The tragedy here is that this clip shows he welcomes it, and now the uninterrupted ramblings of the more recent footage seem a desperate attempt for someone to simply tell him no.
Aside from aspects of the time spent in Japan, this means the final act is missing warmth, humanity and excitement, attributes the previous two acts had in spades. I don’t mean this to be disparaging; of course this tonal gap lays bare the hollowness of his current existence. The ‘capturing of lightning in a bottle’ quality of Coodie’s filming has been replaced with a sense of desperation, as this long-time friend can seemingly think of no other way of helping Ye than fostering an understanding of how he became this way.
Kanye’s current wellbeing and moral character are inescapable in reviewing this conclusion and seemingly in any discussions of Kanye West currently. The concurrence between the arrival of this documentary and yet another of his controversies feels almost inevitable now. Watching this final act, I realised that his infamous pep rally has basically fallen out of public memory, and wondered when the same could be said for his current obsession with Pete Davidson.
The portrayal of Ye’s mental health makes it feel doomed to deteriorate and as a result so will the controversies. It illustrated just how unlikely it is for things to get better and at the end of this I didn’t feel the same way about being an avid fan of his music.
Act III sits you down and takes the shine off of the apple of being a Ye fan, and that’s (unfortunately) a good thing.
Featured Image: Netflix/IMDB
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