How did Kanye West pick the celebrities included in his controversial "Famous" video?
Kanye West's "Famous" video is being hailed as a master class in the art of provocation by some and derided as "dumpster juice" by others. Inspired by "Sleep," a painting by American realist Vincent Desiderio, the video depicts a bed in which wax statues of 12 celebrities doze peacefully in the nude: George W. Bush, Anna Wintour, Donald Drumpf, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian West, Ray J, Amber Rose, Caitlyn Jenner and Bill Cosby.
“It’s not in support or anti any of [the people in the video]," Kanye explained in an interview with Vanity Fair. "It’s a comment on fame.”
Specifically, "Famous" is a comment on Kanye's own fame. It might best be categorized as performance art; the reaction of the media and public is part of the production. In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Desiderio likened Kanye to Andy Warhol: "Think about how [Warhol's] whole life was a performance piece and then you understand why Kanye at one point said, 'I'm Andy Warhol.' The way we're thinking about Kanye West and the way he's portrayed, there's an orchestration to it, but social media is so large right now that it spins wildly out of control."
HNHH traced Kanye's relationships with the eleven other celebrities depicted to better understand the "Famous" video and its implications.