Kanye West’s “Bound 2” Premiere Was Smarter and More Subversive Than You Think


For better or for worse, it’s high time we just accept that Kimye — or, if you prefer, Kim and Kanye — are here to stay. Since the couple made their first public outing in early spring 2012, they’ve been met with a mixture of befuddlement and distaste. While both individuals are polarizing on their own, the noisy public reaction to their relationship has sounded something like, “What is he doing with her?”

Controversial as he is, much of the public respects — or at least vaguely acknowledges — Kanye’s artistry; Kardashian, on the other hand, continues to fight an uphill battle. Self-made business woman or not, the reality TV star is still viewed as a dense, social-climbing bimbo — and that’s without even delving into the sex tape. With almost every major media outlet constantly — and none too subtly — reminding West just who he is procreating with, it stands to reason that when it comes to his new video, “Bound 2,” he just might have even more to say than, “This is the woman I love; suck it.”

That the video’s premiere occurred not only on daytime television, but on Ellen — home of Sophia Grace and Rosie, for Christ’s sake! — is, on its face, utterly batshit. There’s no doubt that the show’s producers were fainting with glee at the prospect of such an exclusive, but what was West’s angle? What’s to gain from showcasing a half-naked Kim Kardashian at 4pm, to stay-at-home parents and retirees?

As usual, his ambitions are grand: Kanye West aims to subvert and reclaim Middle America’s conception of Kim Kardashian in one fell swoop. This video premiere is straight out of Kanye West’s Practical Guide for Containing Multitudes™. Kim may be a “bad bitch” with whom he is simulating sex on a motorcycle, but she’s also the mother of his child and, according to him, a font of stabilizing advice and the love of his life.

Before even airing the video, West and Ellen DeGeneres spent close to ten minutes discussing decidedly family-friendly topics like parenthood, true love, and compassion, and Kardashian’s adroitness at all three. This calculated prelude extended the meaning of “Bound 2” beyond the video itself. Kanye was making us confront the fact that, while Kim is very much the dream-girl sweetheart and mother he praised to Ellen, that doesn’t mean the two of them don’t have some freaky motorcycle sex from time to time. Quite simply, there is no Madonna and no whore in this narrative. The binary does not apply.

When DeGeneres asked West if having a child had changed his approach to the obscene, he deftly responded, “I’m not as concerned about the idea of profanity or nudity, it’s more the messaging behind it.” As an example of that ethos, the “Bound 2” premiere contained an unusually complex (albeit imperfect) message about adult female sexuality, with West doing his best to show that Kardashian is more than the sum of the parts that E! and Vivid have shown us of her. Taken in its entirety, the Ellen segment thwarts viewers from neatly placing Kim Kardashian in any one box. She may never be held in high esteem by the world at large, but if West can make society view her even a bit more holistically, he may well succeed in complicating pop culture’s one-dimensional female archetypes.