The Society of Spectacle: Kanye West and Politics in 2020

Adam De Salle
8 min readSep 5, 2020

Recently hip-hop artist and mogul Kanye West made waves by announcing he is running in this year’s election for President of the United States of America-yeah, really… West actually declared he planned to run for President in the 2020 election during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards and has spoken frequently about a potential campaign over the last 5 years. Kanye made his announcement on the 4th of July via Twitter, “I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION”. The announcement received over a million likes in 24 hours, trending №1 on Twitter, and receiving co-signs from public figures such as Elon Musk.

There has since been mixed news about West apparently dropping out, others saying he’s still in. But regardless of whether Ye actually does run, does he even stand a chance of winning? Nathan L. Gonzales, editor of Inside Elections, a nonpartisan publication that covers House Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential campaigns, said of Kanye’s announcement, for Complex, “Right now, this is not a campaign, this is a tweet about a potential campaign […] The timeline is working against him. And that’s even before we get to the question of if there’s even an electorate who wants him to be president of the United States.” Do Americans want Kanye West to be President? Well I imagine America are probably gagging for something other than Trump’s administration, but to answer whether Kanye would be elected, one must first analyse the state of politics in 2020.

Politicians painstakingly sculpt their personalities in order to optimise their appeal to voters. French Marxist Philosopher Guy Debord in his 1967 ‘la société du spectacle’ (‘The Society of Spectacle’ in English) warns of a culture driven entirely by image, a world in which people are more concerned with how they are perceived rather than how they actually are, a society fundamentally altered by the power of ads that perverts reality so that the only thing that matters is the projection of a specific representation, where we are all preoccupied with managing and curating our image. The content of these images is inconsequential, all that matters is how much attention it demands, and as the phrase goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

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Adam De Salle

I am a young writer interested in providing the intellectual tools to those in the political trenches so that they may fight their battles well-informed.