Here's further proof that every single that happened at this year's MTV Video Music Awards was a culturally significant moment worth pondering (or that every culturally significant moment worth pondering happened at the VMAs).
Stashed asked New York rapper A$AP Rocky about his appearance alongside out basketball player Jason Collins to introduce the performance of the gay-rights anthem "Same Love" by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert. Rocky appeared uncomfortable during Collins' rehashing of his coming out. When it was his turn to speak, Rocky sidelined the intro by promoting his crew member A$AP Ferg's Trap Lord album. The whole thing, including when Rocky pointed to Collins when saying the word "homosexuality," was awkward. Not hateful. Not think-piece worthy. Awkward.
In his explanation to Stashed, though, A$AP Rocky has made matters worse in a half-apology, in which he wonders why he was even asked to stand alongside a gay man in the first place. I mean, can you imagine the degradation? Via Pitchfork, here's Rocky's arm's length atonement:
I’m mad that my facial expressions was like that because I’m not homophobic at all, and that whole thing just came off real homophobic. I didn’t really notice it until I got home and saw it. I apologize to Jason for that, because people was laughing and shit, and you know… I really don’t think that’s funny. I saw they were making all the memes and pictures and making fun of him. There’s people out there that think I was doing that to be funny, and truthfully I got gay people in my family. I don’t give a fuck if you gay or you not, I just found it odd that MTV wanted to stand me next to this nigga when they are talking about gay people, that’s all. You know what I’m saying?
It's not odd at all, actually, given Rocky's outspokenness on the topic of gayness. He's said he doesn't care when people call him gay, and has discussed a pro-equality stance. He told Interview earlier this year, "...One big issue in hip-hop is the gay thing. It's 2013, and it's a shame that, to this day, that topic still gets people all excited. It's crazy. And it makes me upset that this topic even matters when it comes to hip-hop..."
Rocky's explanation to Stashed is so lucid in its convolution — he's basically representing hip-hop's evolving but still shaky acceptance of homosexuality. Here's a perfect, further example of that: Just moments ago, Mister Cee, a DJ for one of the most influential hip-hop radio stations in the country, Hot 97, resigned on air after yet another rumor regarding his taste in cross-dressing male prostitutes surfaced. His co-worker Miss Info tweeted some quotes from his final broadcast:
#MisterCee has resigned: "It's time 4 me to...take care of myself b/c there r situations when i try to do the rt thing, a setback happens"— Missinfo (@Missinfo) September 11, 2013
#MisterCee: "Im good Im safe Im happy Im blessed. But the last thing u want 2 do is hurt ppl u love, n I love this station. I love hot97."— Missinfo (@Missinfo) September 11, 2013
Rocky, meanwhile, acknowledges that homophobia is bad. He seems to realize that it's not socially acceptable, thus he must distance himself from it. That's easy enough in the abstract, but when it comes to actually standing next to a gay man discussing the same equal rights that Rocky has advocated, there's still an issue, there's still a need for distance. While it's admirable that Rocky called himself out (how often does watching oneself yield such humility?), I'm not sure how valuable that is. Rocky squirmed onstage and he's still squirming.
True solidarity comes without caveats. There is nothing odd about presiding over something you say you believe in. As it stands, A$AP Rocky's rhetoric is limp-wristed — no homo.