For Americans, this Fourth of July was already one for the history books. Protests sparked by George Floyd‘s murder were still erupting across the country, with many people denouncing the holiday altogether as a statement against racial injustice. The coronavirus pandemic raged on, with cities in varying states of lockdown and cases skyrocketing by the day. Then, in a move that capped off an already hectic week in American politics, Kanye West announced he would run for president of the United States.
The controversial rapper tweeted yesterday: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States ??! #2020VISION— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States ??! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020
Within a few hours, the hashtag “Kanye announces running for president of the United States” made its way to the trending list of China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.
The comments, predictably, are internet gold — a mix of delighted astonishment at the United States’ political upheaval and pop culture jabs. The slang “eating melon” (吃瓜) — the phenomenon of people watching from the sidelines without any stake in the matter — feels especially applicable here.
One user wrote, “I hope he’s elected, not because I want to see him as president but to watch Kim Kardashian’s First Lady reality show.”
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“I’m not afraid of Kanye as president, I’m afraid of Kim Kardashian as first lady,” wrote another.
“I feel that a new shoe release is coming, brothers,” added one.
Some pointed to Kanye’s lesser-known China connections. “A well-known Nanjing rapper is running for US president,” reads one comment, in reference to the West’s year-long stint in Nanjing while his mother was an English teacher there.
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Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian is also emerging as a cultural icon in China, gaining recognition for her reality TV empire and dipping her toes into the Chinese ecommerce game. Late last year Kim sold 15,000 bottles of her perfume on a livestream with influencer Viya. She responded to her husband’s tweet with an American flag emoji, indicating that she is also on board with a West-Kardashian White House.
Strengthening the China links, Ye has already received an informal endorsement from Tesla founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, “You have my full support!” Musk has made frequent overtures to China in recent years and was instrumental in the firm setting up a Gigafactory in Shanghai.
Plentiful memes are also making their way across American social media. However, many are also taking seriously the potential political consequences of a West presidential bid.
"I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye…" pic.twitter.com/dzpwgOAzrc— wanye ?☄️? (@omgwanye) July 5, 2020
"I miss the old Kanye, straight from the go Kanye…" pic.twitter.com/dzpwgOAzrc
— wanye ?☄️? (@omgwanye) July 5, 2020
Kanye has not made any concrete steps just yet. Many people, American and Chinese alike, appear to be treating this announcement as yet another indication of the instability characteristic of an increasingly divisive political system (and of the attention-seeking of West), precipitated by Donald Trump’s presidency. Still others say: bring it on, 2020. Let’s see what other chaos you have in store.
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