TimesTalks is a live conversation series run by the New York Times. The Times did not address why the discussion was canceled but told The Washington Post in a statement that “full refunds are being issued.”
West has not responded to the cancellation.
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"Normalizing being mentally healthy is a conversation that I really wanted to have with Kanye because he's been so vocal about his own mental health struggles. Unfortunately I think to have that conversation with him right now would not be productive and a total distraction from the point of the convo which is to eradicate the stigma of mental health especially in the black community."- ME.
West has recently been outspoken about his struggles with bipolar disorder, particularly in the recent news cycle surrounding his latest record, “Ye,” which he released in June. The cover art for that record was a photograph of Wyoming mountains with the words “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome [sic]” scrawled across it in green handwriting. And, on the song “Yikes,” he raps of being bipolar, “That’s my superpower … ain’t no disability. I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!”
He spent the ensuing months discussing his mental health in interviews. For example, he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and said it was important to be open about his mental health, “especially with me being black."
“We never had therapists in the black community. We never approached taking a medication,” he added.
Some fans, though, thought West’s presentation of his disease — especially his lyrics calling it a “superpower” — was problematic, even potentially harmful.
Anja Burcak, who has bipolar 1, wrote in the Mighty that ″stating that bipolar disorder is a superpower without acknowledging its dark side is not only misleading, but has the potential to make fans less likely to seek treatment."
Many people on social media agreed. “Nothing good is going to come from Kanye rapping about bipolar disorder and calling it a ‘superpower’ it’s irresponsible and misguided,” wrote one user.
West’s behavior remained a hot topic of conversation in the ensuing months, as he loudly advocated for President Trump despite great blowback from his fans and peers. He also got into arguments with the cast of “Saturday Night Live” because he insisted on wearing a red Make America Great Again baseball cap and implying that slavery was a choice on the part of slaves.
The breaking point for many people — including, it seems, Charlamagne — was his meeting with Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday. With his (now-signature) MAGA hat in place, West ranted fairly incoherently about several topics, including crime lord Larry Hoover, his own IQ and hydrogen-powered airplanes.
He also said that though he was “diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” a doctor “looked at my brain,” and “he said that I actually wasn’t bipolar, I had sleep deprivation, which would cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now.”
Some, such as rapper T.I., reacted to the conversation by saying they were done with West. “All I can say is … I’ve reached my limits,” the rapper wrote on Instagram. “At one time it was a pleasure to work alongside you … Now, I’m ashamed to have ever been associated with you.”
This TimesTalk cancellation comes less than two months after another high-profile, live-journalism celebrity interview was nixed: The New Yorker disinvited Stephen K. Bannon from being interviewed at its annual festival after a severe backlash from Bannon’s critics.