By Becca Seel
When I heard that Kanye’s latest video to his song “Runaway” was a thirty-five minute opus, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
For full disclosure, I don’t take Kanye West seriously.
I watched his gift to the human race with a healthy dose of skepticism, and found that my suspicions proved correct.
Just as with anything West has ever created, the overextended video was the equivalent of Kanye spending thirty-five minutes saying, “Look at me! I’m so talented!”
While the video has strong points and may deserve some of the heaps of praise and adulation West will receive, the flaws of the video eclipse my enjoyment and the critical resonance of the work.
The video relies heavily on its visuals, and West certainly succeeds in this department. From repeated shots of explosions to Kanye’s phoenix girlfriend in flight, all images are carefully planned for maximum effect.
Colors are a major component of the video, with saturated reds, purples, and greens, with white and black accents.
To speak specifically to the story itself, I found it to be the greatest weakness of the entire work. Though he does imbue it with his own innovative style, it has been told a thousand times. A man coming upon a strange woman in need of assistance, leading to an ill-fated love affair. Try “Swan Lake,” the majority of Disney films, and a slew of fairy tales just to name a few.
Sorry Kanye, but with hundreds of years of folklore and storytelling, with many versions more emotionally poignant than sad Kanye and his feathered lady friend, you just got owned.
I must give West some credit. Kanye’s filmmaking (almost) pulls together his work. There’s creativity in the way in which he frames his shots, and the heavy use of cranes, swooping up and down and zooming in and out on the video, adds visual interest and contributes to the dramatic elements of the story.
I was very enamored with one portion of West’s video. The scene of ballerinas dancing to the video’s titular song was absolutely gorgeous and could have sufficed as a music video in and of itself.
The video’s namesake is played in the sequence, and is perfectly complemented by the dancers sporting eggplant-colored tutus, who employ traditional and modern styles of ballet to undulate and balance on their tiptoes to Kanye’s music.
The colors, choreography, and music of the sequence was a beacon amidst the cluttered, confusing (not in a good way) entirety of the video.
If Kanye released this small portion of his video, it still would be powerful and stunning, more so than its unfortunate placement amongst the other twenty minutes worth of fodder.
I may fault this video for many things, but it is an original and unsullied product from West’s mind, especially seeing as how he wrote, directed, starred, and scored it.
When given an abundance of control, artists can come up with strange but awesome things. However, an ambitious and arrogant musician such as West will use the freedom to produce an ode to his own talent.
“Runaway” had kernels of brilliance and certainly held my attention during its exorbitant length. However, the achievement of holding my attention span was due more to my savoring deriding his work.
Kanye West has proven that he is a musical innovator. He, however, doesn’t need to thunk us over the head with thirty-five minutes of dreck to get us to agree with him.