The reaction to Kanye West’s hijacking of the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards came quickly and unequivocally.
Celebrities and fans alike expressed their disapproval of West interrupting Swift’s win for Best Female Music Video to tout his appreciation of nominee Beyonce. “Taylor, I’m really happy for you,” West said after grabbing the microphone from a clearly stunned Swift. “I’ll let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!” Elliott Wilson, founder and chief executive officer of Rap Radar, sat in front of members of West’s entourage at the live Sunday night awards show and said the mood quickly turned from one of surprised amusement to anger. Watch West grab the microphone from Swift “At first, people weren’t sure if it was kind of like a gag,” Wilson said. “You could feel everybody being nervous and not knowing if it was a prank or something. Then people started booing him really loud.” Wilson said he believes that West — who he said bounded on stage from his seat in the front row near Beyonce — intended to have his say before allowing Swift to continue but said the rapper became angered by the crowd response in a moment that wasn’t captured by the MTV cameras.
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“The reaction to his tantrum was so strong … and what happened was, he gave everybody the finger,” Wilson said. Stars taking to Twitter returned the sentiment with some harsh words for the sometimes mercurial rap star. Singer Pink tweeted, “Kanye West is the biggest piece of [expletive] on earth. Quote me,” and Joel Madden of the band Good Charlotte tweeted, “All i’m saying is Taylor Swift is a young chic and you just walk up and grab the mic.” Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton said via Twitter that “Taylor Swift deserved that award, damnit. It is what THE PEOPLE voted! My heart broke for her, she looked so sad at the end of that moment.” Singer Katy Perry weighed in with “F— u Kanye. It’s like you stepped on a kitten.” VMA nominee Kelly Clarkson took to her blog to publish an open letter to West. “What happened to you as a child Did you not get hugged enough” she asked. On Monday, “Taylor Swift,” “VMAs,” “Kanye’s” and “Beyonce were top trending topics on Twitter. Watch Swift respond to what happened Wilson, a noted hip-hop journalist, said there was a great deal of tension inside the event Sunday night before West and his girlfriend, model Amber Rose, left the show. “It was almost like wrestling, when the good guy turns bad and the crowd turns on him,” Wilson said. “Every time his name was mentioned, people booed.” Wilson said he believes that alcohol may have played a part in West’s actions, given that the rapper appeared both on the red carpet and inside the arena with a bottle of cognac. Wilson added that West is well known for such behavior. He appeared uninvited onstage at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, walked out of the 2004 American Music Awards after losing in the Best New Artist category and reportedly threw a backstage tantrum at the 2007 VMAs because he did not perform on the main stage. “I think Kanye came in to be the bad boy, but he obviously had an emotional spaz moment because he is cool” with Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, Wilson said. “I think the alcohol blurred his judgment.” Wilson said attendees at the awards show were allowed to have drinks at their seats. Emil Wilbekin, managing editor of Essence.com, said West may have gone too far with his antics this time. “I think that it was not Kanye’s place to speak for Beyonce or to ruin Taylor Swift’s moment,” Wilbekin said. “It’s OK for Kanye to rattle off about himself, but I think he crossed the line when he decided to speak for other people.” Though West is known for having a healthy ego, Wilbekin said, his actions may be damaging the very legacy the rapper claims to want to leave. “He’s talked about wanting to be Elvis; he’s talked about wanting to be the new king of pop,” Wilbekin said. “It’s almost like he’s overshadowing himself by getting in his own way with his mouth.” West reportedly apologized to Swift via his blog. As for Swift, the young singer gave her acceptance speech after Beyonce graciously invited her onstage during her win for Video of the Year. West’s disruption wasn’t the only one the evening offered, Wilson said. During a performance by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, rapper Lil Mama rushed the stage. Wilson said that from his vantage point in the audience, the female rapper, who also serves as a judge on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew,” was neither expected nor wanted as part of the performance. iReport: Is civility dead
The stars’ behavior might have long-lasting consequences, Wilson added. “I wouldn’t be surprised if MTV banned alcohol [at the event] next year,” he said.