Trevor Noah is reflecting on his viral segment about Kanye West on the daily show.
Beginning in November last year, West began making a number of impassioned public statements about his hopes of rekindling his relationship with Kim Kardashian, who filed for divorce from the rapper in February 2021.
Over time, West’s statements became more and more frequent, seemingly prompted by Kardashian’s blossoming romance with Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson.
Before long, West wound up taking his frustrations to Instagram, where he began publicly harassing both Kardashian and Davidson by sharing posts about them, some containing leaked text messages.
Concern for the rapper peaked in early March when, just one day after a judge declared Kardashian legally single, he released a music video for his track “Eazy,” which depicted him kidnapping and decapitating a claymation version of Davidson.
On March 15, at the height of West’s problematic online behavior, Noah discussed the topic in a segment on the daily showurging viewers to take the matter more seriously.
Noah — who grew up in an abusive household — began by noting that West’s behavior “transcended” tabloid fodder, saying that it “touches on something that is more sensitive and more serious than people would like to admit.”
“You may not feel sorry for Kim because she’s rich and famous … whatever, you hate her,” Noah said. “But what she’s going through is terrifying to watch, and it shines a spotlight on what so many women go through when they choose to leave [toxic relationships].”
He went on: “What we’re seeing here is one of the most powerful, one of the richest women in the world unable to get her ex to stop texting her, to stop chasing after her, to stop harassing her.”
During the nine-minute segment, Noah emphasized that he did not intend to villainize West, but rather encourage the public to think a little more about what was happening.
“I do understand that art can be therapy. But I also understand that therapy can be therapy,” he said, referring to the “Eazy” music video released earlier that month. “With Kanye, we don’t know how to feel. We don’t know how to worry.”
“I’m not saying Kanye is just a bad guy. Please, but just as a society, we have to ask ourselves questions,” he went on, urging viewers to approach such situations with nuance and compassion.
“Do we wish to stand by and watch a car crash when we thought we saw it coming? Or do we at least want to say ‘Hey, slow down, let’s all put our hazards on because there’s a storm right now?’” he asked.
The segment quickly went viral — currently boasting 2.5 million views on twitter and a further 3 million on YouTube — and it wasn’t long before West issued a response on Instagram, calling Noah a racial slur.
The response was in violation of Instagram’s policies on hate speech, bullying, and harassment, and as a result, West was banned from the platform for 24 hours on March 17.
Days later, a representative for West confirmed that his unannounced performance had been scrapped from the Grammys ceremony, which Noah hosted, over his “concerning online behavior.”
Now, the daily show host is reflecting on his decision to speak out against West, admitting that he felt compelled to use his platform.
“I’ve just become more comfortable speaking my mind in situations where I feel like the mob forgets that we’re dealing with human beings,” Noah shared during an appearance on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast earlier this week.
“It’s easy to stand on the sidelines, see a train crash coming and say nothing about it,” he said. “And then after the train crashes off the tracks, we say, ‘Oh, I saw that coming!’ Well, then why didn’t you say anything?”
“Especially if you have some sort of platform, you have some sort of obligation to speak a truth,” he added. “You know, see something and say something.”
Noah went on to say that his call to speak out about West’s behavior came from a place of love and understanding too, clarifying that he’s long been a fan of his work.
“Kanye West is somebody who has an indelible impression on my life. His music has literally taken me through different periods of my journey,” he said. “But then there are also moments where I go, like, ‘man, Kanye, you, you’re going off the rails here.’ But I can still say that, ‘I care for you as a human being, that’s why I’m speaking out. I’m not going to not care for you, I’m not going to hate you all of a sudden.’”
“I also understand that human beings are a paradox,” Noah said. “We can love people who we hate, we can hate people who we love. Human beings as a whole are complicated paradox. And so, I don’t like to live in a world where we constantly discard human beings like pieces of trash.”
He concluded by reflecting on the importance of holding one another accountable, even when it can be difficult.
“If you like me, or if you like anyone in your life, I hope you’d have the ability to say to that person, ‘Hey, I think what you’re doing here is wrong. I think you may be headed in a dangerous direction. And I’m saying that to you because I like you. I don’t discard you as a person,’” Noah said, before going on to hint that he hopes West can redeem himself in the eyes of the public.
“I think we have gotten very comfortable discarding human beings, immediately tossing them away and making them irredeemable characters,” he said, in an apparent reference to “cancel culture.” “I think all of us should be afforded the opportunity to redeem ourselves. All of us should have an opportunity at redemption.”
West has maintained a relatively low profile since his Instagram ban in March, only making a handful of public appearances in the months since.
The Yeezy designer found himself at the center of discussions earlier this month after he mocked Davidson in a since-deleted Instagram post marking his split from Kardashian.
A fake New York Times headline shared by the rapper read, “SKETE DAVIDSON DEAD AT AGE 28” — “Skete” being the nickname he uses in reference to Davidson.
Since then, reports have claimed that the SNL star has been in “trauma therapy,” “in large part” due to West’s “threatening posts” throughout February and March.
“The attention and negativity coming from Kanye and his antics is a trigger for [Pete], and he’s had to seek out help,” an insider told People on Aug. 8. “Moving forward he just wants to focus on his career.”