Celebrity Egos

The largest uncontained and expanding mass on earth is that humongous mound of garbage and debris (estimated to be the size of Texas) floating in the Pacific ocean. Arguably, the second-largest uncontained and expanding mass is Kanye West's ego.

Not to pick on this gifted performer, but even if he were joking about his intention to run for U.S. president in 2020 (please, God, give us a sign that he was joking), his staggering sense of self-importance makes those of us with weak stomachs and refined sensibilities want to puke. Whatever happened to the concept of "modesty"?

Not that Kanye is alone in having an overinflated opinion of himself. Far from it. For one thing, let's not forget that the man is prodigiously talented. And for another, upon closer inspection, compared to what Steven Segal and Jesse Ventura said about themselves, we might be compelled to conclude that Kanye comes off merely as "absurdly conceited" and not "certifiably nuts."

In an interview with the "London Sun" newspaper (4-12-00), Steven Seagal, a second-echelon action-adventure movie actor, said, "People the world over recognize me as a great spiritual leader." Mind you, this was a former martial arts instructor and chauffeur talking.

Even to those of us who admire his work (I liked him in "Under Siege" and "Hard to Kill," not so much in "The Patriot), that was a bonehead remark to make, even for an egotistical, pony-tailed movie star. Indeed, the Pope or Dalai Lama (authentic "spiritual leaders") wouldn't have had the balls to stand on their hind legs and utter something so self-aggrandizing.

Moving from Hollywood to politics, let's consider Jesse ("The Body") Ventura, the ex-Navy SEAL, ex-professional wrestler, and ex-governor of Minnesota. Like literally thousands of politicians before him, Governor Ventura had had a tempestuous relationship with the media.

Accordingly, while he was conducting his last official press conference, on the Friday prior to leaving office, Jesse said to the assembled group of reporters in his most menacing, Navy SEAL voice, "Beginning Monday [his first official day out of office], you will fear me."

Aside from its nauseating machismo and overweening sense of self-importance, Ventura's remark was hilarious. Can we imagine another politician saying that? Can we imagine Jimmy Carter, in 1980, after losing to Ronald Reagan, telling the White House correspondents that after January 20, they will "fear" him?

Politicians simply don't talk that way. On the other hand, your average pol isn't an ex-brawler capable of beating the living crap out of any reporter he's likely to meet. After losing the California gubernatorial election, in 1962, Richard Nixon told the media they wouldn't "have Nixon to kick around anymore." Unlike Ventura's absurd threat, Nixon's final words were appropriately wimpy and self-pitying.

And then there's all those stories about celebrity singers having stipulations in their contracts forbidding any of the little people (staffers, roadies, ushers, craftsmen, etc.) to "make eye-contact" prior to a concert. We don't know if it's true or simply an urban legend, but two names you hear mentioned are Madonna and Barbra Streisand, both of whose music I adore.

Still, insisting that no one make eye-contact seems wildly egotistical. Prepping for a show is a whole other deal. We can all understand the need to prepare oneself and not want a star-struck stagehand asking for an autograph moments before the show is to begin, but forbidding them to even look at you? That seems extreme.

As for objecting to Kanye West thinking he should be president, perhaps we should revisit that. Considering that Sarah Palin actually believed she was qualified to be vice-president, Kanye believing he's qualified to be prez is not only not farfetched, it's self-evident.