About a month ago, I was standing in an endless line at a Los Angeles rental car company, watching Late Night With Jimmy Kimmel amongst strangers. At one point, a skit of DJ Khaled reading inspirational words of wisdom came on, and the gentleman next to me asked something along the lines of, “Isn’t this guy old news? What’s he doing on here?” I thought about his question – considering the fact that Khaled hasn’t really had a notable song in years – and realized he was right. What is DJ Khaled doing on Jimmy Kimmel?
Playing his character. Letting people eat him up. Getting money.
In a nutshell, that’s eventually what I told the meme-naive gentleman, explaining how the Miami DJ has used social media to expand his fame well beyond music.
Over the past few years, he’s become the lead in a self-directed comedy about his own life, who’s totally self-aware and plays himself up every chance he can. Despite coming across as borderline embarrassing, Khaled revels in the self-made momentum and has somehow managed to take his career to new heights as a result. For instance, he was recently interviewed by ABC’s Nightline. Yes, the same Nightline that used to be hosted by Ted Koppel and is known for covering legit world news.
If you watch the clip, Khaled’s music is a total afterthought. The reporter focuses exclusively on how he’s used his boisterous personality to become the ‘King of Snapchat,’ making his daily stories out to be the stuff of legends. They’re essentially putting a battery in his back and hyping him up for being himself. Yet, no matter how many times he reinforces how his over the top persona isn’t an act, he’s on camera and being encouraged to entertain.
When you’re constantly put on the spot — whether by choice or fame — when does the show end? Are we really amped up by DJ Khaled’s wide-eyed words of encouragement, or are we laughing at the fact he’s stuck putting on a show for us, 24/7?
More often than not, it’s feels like the latter and quite frankly, that’s kind of disturbing. Yet, in a world where Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Chrisley Knows Best get extended runs on big networks, our attention to retail is clear. If it sells, that’s all that matters.
Americans are easily amused and we value hype more than talent. There are probably 100 singers on Snapchat with 100 times more talent than DJ Khaled has in his left pinky, getting 100 times less views than videos of his breakfast.
But, we encourage the popularity contests that keep DJ Khaled famous, well beyond the time his actual talent stopped being relevant. You encourage them. Hell, I’m encouraging them by writing this post. And, that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is that eventually, when the joke gets played out, we’ll realize the schtick is silly and move on to something even more ridiculous.
At the end of the day, I’m just complaining about something that’s not going to change, while DJ Khaled is getting paid handsomely for being an overzealous celebrity self-help guru. I can’t even be mad at him. If anything, I’m mad at everyone else. We’ve let our priorities slip to the point where casual bystanders are being subjected to new levels of ridiculous, even though most of us can see right through the facade.
We the best, though. Right?