Glastonbury Festival. For many, it is the epitome of what festivals should be. A huge collective of like-minded individuals devouring art and covering themselves in the rich social-mud of the year. But for many, it has now just become a vivid pastiche of itself – “Let’s go take mushrooms in the Stone Circle, Hugo! We must!”
This year Michael Eavis and daughter Emily have made it even easier for those turned off by Glastonbury and their continual conformity to turn their back completely with the inclusion of the serial ego-masturbator Kanye West as the Saturday Night Headliner.
The problem with West’s inclusion at Glastonbury is not an attack on Hip-Hop at alternative festivals, one of our favourite performances of last year was Earl Sweatshirt at Primavera, nor is it racially motivated as Kanye laughably argued recently. It’s the pandering to the masses, the establishment and the moron himself which is troubling.
We’ve all known for a while that Glastonbury was diluting itself, many serial-goers would argue that has been happening since the ’90s, but it seems that Glastonbury has finally taken its crown as the Facebook of festivals and The Pyramid Stage its news feed.
Sure, we’ve been told of when it was group of individuals trying to find the love in life, we all still check in from time to time hoping for something exciting and there are even a few clever pieces of artistry dotted in the furthest corners but it’s now a colossal money-making machine that we’re pretty sure is dumbing us down to the level of the cows who occupy the fields in the fallow years.
This is no better displayed than with the Capitalist cum-shot that is Kanye West. I find it hard to see how this act can be transferred anywhere near to what Glastonbury stands or at least stood for.
Glastonbury originated essentially as an illegal rave. Well, an illegal Pop, Blues and Folk Festival. It was built on the ideals of the hippies who attended it, the counterculture they followed and the free festival movement which Pilton found itself in the forefront of. There are still hints of this in The Green Fields and Healing Fields but to sound these former values off against the current climate of pop princesses and money-making moguls makes for laughable reading.
Many are billing Kanye’s inclusion as an act of defiance against a ‘safer’ choice. Really? Kanye West, one of the most highly profiled celebrities in the world right now is not a ‘safe’ choice? Have a laugh. He represents not only an easy billing for extra press-coverage, material gain and the opportunity for Kanye to say the word ‘create’ four or five times but a way to connect further with the money-holding Millenials of Hugo and Henrietta who get to wear those stupid glasses with their ‘Leavers’ hoodie they got in Rugby. It’s the safest choice for the future of the festival and the Eavis’ personal gain they could make. (Expect to see this strewn across Somerset).
I also deliberately say celebrity because frankly, that is all he has become. A money-making machine built on the promotion of material gain, his wife’s incredibly easily-bought ass and his self-proclaimed ‘genius’. Since ‘N*ggas in Paris’ it’s hard to find a song of any note (‘All Day’ I hear you cry? You can thank Skepta for that.) and the sampling of a song to self-promote your brand is not genius, it’s barely a song. If Da Vinci spent all day painting pictures of his dick, he wouldn’t be called a genius.
The Saturday headlining slot doesn’t really need a genius, it should provide energy and in fairness West’s hype man will likely provide that, but it also requires those ‘Glastonbury Moments’. A moment in time where 100,000 people feel connected as one being, one entity, a counter-collective against the world – I struggle to see Golddigger having the same attraction as say Faithless did with ‘We Come 1’.
It feels strange to be so adverse to what is considered a hero of British culture. The highlights of its Golden Years are there for all to see and their work for Greenpeace should not be disqualified and will hopefully live on as the defining and expanding feature of their charity. But with so many other options (Bestival, Y Not and Beacons to name a few) there surely must be an easier way to give to charity, save half the £250 you’re spending on a ticket, go to one of the aforementioned festivals and give the other half to your favourite organisation – simple.
But for me, the inclusion of West strikes a nail in the coffin of Glastonbury Festival. It buries their ideals as a counter-culture movement and instead places them firmly in the hands of the Grim reapers of mass media and finance.
Many would argue this happened years ago (one points to Robbie Williams 1998 inclusion), but we had always hoped for a zombie awakening. We instead must be subjected to a spoilt brat screaming his genius whilst he flings shit across an easel and tries to sell trainers and column inches. Glastonbury have bent over to indulge him in his necrophilia.
Kim broke the internet? Kanye just bummed Glastonbury.