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Kanye West: The Game Theory Master

In 2009, Kanye West, a popular celebrity and music icon took to the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards to interrupt Taylor Swift’s reception of “Best Female Video” award. He grabbed the microphone from Swift and proclaimed the true winner of the award to be Beyoncé, and not Swift. This flagrant insult took social media by storm and Kanye became the highest trending entity. Now in 2015, millions of fans and viewers of the Video Music Awards reminisce of that day in 2009, waiting in anticipation for Kanye West do something big again: whether it be an apology, acknowledgment, or second insult. And at the 2015 Video Music Awards, Kanye West made another big splash, proclaiming his plans to run for the presidential bid in 2020. Whether or not his intent is legitimate, Kanye is succeeding; he is staying relevant in a rapidly changing and fast paced culture.

Game Theory governs Kanye’s life. Kanye West has many competitors in the music industry and must constantly analyze and plan strategies in a market where new stars, discovered every day, render the old obscure and irrelevant. Kanye is a veteran celebrity, and has managed to maintain a large presence in the media. One cannot do this without making carefully calculated moves consistently. Despite media depicting him as “reliably unscripted”, it is unfavorable for a celebrity to not consider their social standing with every action they do. It is Kanye versus the world, and the dominant strategy for a mainstream celebrity such as Kanye to pursue is to differentiate himself through radical, spontaneous, and unique actions. A majority of celebrities choose to be “good” celebrities and many fear deviating from the norm. In 2009, Kanye chose to be the villain in a time of celebration and honor; in 2015, Kanye chose to be a scholar in a vapid environment of superficial woes, by speaking on relevant issues and declaring his candidacy for president. Another approach to stay relevant in an ever changing popular culture, is to bandwagon on the current “thing”. Arguably, Kanye could be said to be following in Donald Trump’s footsteps as he runs for the GOP presidential bid, and is currently dominating all of social media. Regardless, Kanye is pursuing the best strategy in maintaining his celebrity status and staying in the spotlight, by considering and evaluating the actions of others around him.

Kanye West is not amused


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September 2015