Last week, Kanye West sparked fierce backlash when he released a music video that depicted him kidnapping and decapitating a claymation version of Pete Davidson, his ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s new boyfriend.
It came after weeks of the rapper lashing out at Pete both online and in his new songs, with Kim even expressing concern for her new partner’s safety in texts that Kanye — who legally changed his name to Ye last year — leaked online.
While Ye has also publicly dated other people over the last 12 months, his and Kim’s amicable relationship soured in December when she filed to be “legally single” after he’d allegedly failed to respond to repeated requests to “terminate” their marriage.
The following month, Ye’s tirade against both Pete and Kim began, with his January single “Eazy” berating Kim’s parenting style. It also contained the lyrics: “God saved me from this crash / Just so I could beat Pete Davidson’s ass.”
Ye went on to coin the nickname “Skete” for the comic, also branding him as “garbage” and “trash” in a series of now-deleted Instagram posts.
He also urged his millions of followers to “scream” at Pete if they saw him in public. This led to Kim expressing her concern that somebody might hurt Pete as she accused Ye of creating a “dangerous and scary environment” in private texts that he posted online.
In response to her messages, Ye told fans: “UPON MY WIFE’S REQUEST PLEASE NOBODY DO ANYTHING PHYSICAL TO SKETE I’M GOING TO HANDLE THE SITUATION MYSELF,” which some interpreted to be a threat.
Soon after, Ye boasted about driving Pete off Instagram after the comic deleted his social media account when his first post was flooded with comments calling him “Skete” and telling him to “find God.”
And last month, Ye released his much-anticipated album Donda 2, on which he was once again accused of threatening Pete.
In the song “Security,” Ye raps: “Never stand between a man and his kids / Y'all ain't got enough security for this.”
Neither Kim or Pete have publicly acknowledged Ye’s tirade, but court documents that were released last month revealed that Ye spreading “misinformation” on social media had caused Kim “emotional distress.”
Ye also leaked a private text message that Pete had allegedly sent him, with the SNL favorite seemingly attempting to extend an olive branch by insisting that he will never stand between Ye and his four children.
In the disturbing footage, a caricature of Ye throws a bag over the head of a depiction of Pete before transporting his tied-up body on the back of a motorcycle in a blatant kidnapping.
Ye’s replica then drags the body across the floor and buries the Pete-like cartoon alive. Even more distressingly, there are multiple animated scenes of Ye holding Pete’s severed head.
The video ends with an unnerving message about Pete that reads: “EVERYONE LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER EXCEPT SKETE.”
The word “Skete” has been crossed out and replaced with “YOU KNOW WHO,” before a final frame flashes for a brief second that reads: “JK HE’S FINE.”
The footage prompted a huge wave of both support and concern for Pete from horrified viewers, with many urging him to take legal action against Ye.
Pete has yet to personally acknowledge the video, but people on social media are encouraging both him and Kim to sue Ye for harassment and file for a restraining order due to the threatening nature of the video.
“Kanye West is so fucking embarrassing. I hope Pete Davidson is gonna sue his ass for harassment,” one person tweeted. “I hope Kim and Pete use this in court to get restraining orders against Kanye,” another wrote.
Ye seemingly addressed the backlash on his Instagram page on Sunday, appearing to defend the violent scenes and accusing anybody who interpreted them as a threat of having ill intentions toward him.
He wrote: “Art is therapy just like this view. Art is protected as freedom of speech. Art inspires and simplifies the world. Art is not a proxy for any ill or harm. Any suggestion otherwise about my art is false and mal intended 🖤”
Ye’s suggestion that those uncomfortable with him depicting the kidnap and decapitation of Pete are unfairly targeting him prompted a discussion about gaslighting online. This is a pattern of manipulation in which somebody creates a false narrative and makes their victims question their own responses and reality.
Addressing Ye’s insistence that the music video is nothing more than “art,” one critic wrote in a Reddit forum: “It probably would have been accepted like that if it was a stand alone moment. The problem was it came after weeks of Kanye bashing Pete online and blaming him for the breakdown of his marriage, telling people if they see him in real life they should scream ‘Kimye Forever’, not [to] mention publicly disown one of his friend[s] just because they were also friends with Pete. This seems like gaslighting Kanye. 🤦🏾♀️”
“Lmao not Kanye trying to gaslight us,” a second remarked. “So everyone is mal-intentioned but him. That's handy,” one more wrote, while a fourth drily summarized: “'It’s not my fault, it's yours.'”
Another social media user commented: “This is another attempt to paint himself as a victim.” And another pointed out: “Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequence.”
While there has been a lot of public discussion about Ye’s recent behavior over the past few days, it has been business as usual for Kim as she attended Fashion Week and breezily posted to her social media pages about Netflix reality show Love Is Blind.
Although she hasn’t commented on her ex-husband’s treatment of her new boyfriend, she did demonstrate her support for Pete on Twitter last week.
Following the release of the “Eazy” music video, filmmaker James Gunn tweeted: “For the record, Pete Davidson is one of the nicest, sweetest guys I know. A truly generous, tender & funny spirit, he treats everyone around him with respect.”
It didn’t take long for fans to notice that Kim had shared her agreement with James’s post by liking his tweet.
James also replied to a follower with some more praise for the comic, writing: “I’ve been on set with Pete & I see how he treats all of the crew & background actors. I’ve been to restaurants & see how he treats the staff. I’ve seen how he treats his longtime friends. I’ve seen how he treats fans.”
Meanwhile, a source told Page Six that Pete is using Ye’s antics to “grow,” and that he is determined to turn “all of the negativity into a positive thing.”
The insider added: “He finds the fact that Kanye included a cartoon version of him in his music video hysterical. He is almost flattered by it all because it is so ridiculous to him.”