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The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole.

“Nah, I still look at Pornhub,” Kanye West told Jimmy Kimmel a few weeks ago when asked if having daughters had changed his views of women. As today’s headlines show, he clearly wasn’t kidding. Last night, West co-creative directed Pornhub’s first ever awards show at the Belasco Theatre in Los Angeles.

Working with Willo Perron, West produced the staging, dressed the porn stars in new YEEZY apparel, designed the actual awards themselves — a series of extraterrestrial dicks! — released a batch of YEEZY x Pornhub merch, performed with Teyana Taylor, and released a new track and video with Lil Pump directed by Spike Jonze.

It’s a lot to take in — there’s a lot of cultural crossover happening all at once. As one Twitter user put it, “Kanye is the creative director of the @Pornhub awards and honestly I’m not sure what timeline I’m in anymore.”

It’s a fair reaction, it really is, but this is very much on 2018’s timeline.

Yes, there’s something weird about it, but this is just base-level weirdness when you think about how culture, media, and capitalism interact today: Grimes has been dating Elon Musk, Donald Trump is the US president, nothing really means anything anymore so Kanye West and Pornhub teaming up makes perfect sense right now.

Here’s why.

YEEZY wants to be for the everyman, just like Pornhub

In April this year, West tweeted, “YEEZY will become the biggest apparel company in human history,” before telling us, “I am this generations Ford Hughes Jobs Disney.”

Ford, Hughes, Jobs, and Disney? Well, fuck. What Kanye is suggesting is that the long-term target for YEEZY is neither the luxury sector nor his fanbase. The goal for YEEZY is to become a mass-market product available to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Just like free porn.

This idea of appealing to the everyman is at the core of West’s long-term vision, and for that to happen, he needs a) a strong product, and b) for everyone to know about it.

Pornhub deploys similar tactics in its bid to enter the public subconscious, such as the perfectly SFW ad it placed in Times Square: “ALL YOU NEED IS HAND.” Or the equally G-rated “Pornhub Gives America Wood” campaign, which pledged to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the site’s “Big Dick” category. Timber.

Speaking to Highsnobiety earlier this year, Pornhub VP Corey Price said, “Our initiatives are born from our eagerness to provide for our fans — be it technologically, philanthropically, etc. It’s important for us to remain top-of-mind so our fans keep coming back for more.”

Is there any better way to be “top-of-mind” than to ingratiate yourself with the one of the world’s most provocative artists? As writer Aleks Eror puts it in our article, “Most people go back to particular tube sites out of habit rather than any special feelings of affinity.”

They’re both masters of unconventional marketing

Just like the faux-paparazzi campaign for YEEZY Season 6, the Kanye West x Pornhub award show is very much of its time, using rumor, viral marketing, and collaboration to subtly seed both brands in people’s minds.

The adult film stars appearing at the Pornhub Awards were all clad in skin-tight YEEZY dresses, but it wasn’t just marketing, it was a glimpse into the future. The show was set in the year 6918, after all. Everyone in all-YEEZY everything. It’s similar to how YEEZY made customers buy Season 6 in bundles, encouraging you to wear it head-to-toe or not at all.

Neither Kanye nor Pornhub are progressive forces

“I’ll buy you some new tits, I’ll get you that nip-tuck,” the rapper spits on his new track with Lil Pump, “I Love It.” This is, sadly, where both West and Pornhub fall short in their ambitions.

If there’s one thing West loves to rap about women, it’s controlling their image. On “Yikes,” he raps, “You know how many girls I took to the titty shop?” In some cases it’s worked out okay, as with his wife Kim Kardashian, who went from being excluded by the fashion world to wearing a custom Riccardo Tisci dress at the Met Gala due to Kanye’s interference.

But there’s something dark about what’s happening here, particularly the Lil Pump track. When West raps about paying for women’s plastic surgery, ostensibly he wants every woman to look like his wife. While wearing a gold chain with his mother’s name around his neck, he calls himself a “sick fuck” and degrades women by calling them “such a fuckin’ ho.” The fact that West’s mother Donda appears to have died due to complications after plastic surgery seems to have been lost, or if not lost, willfully ignored.

Pornhub tries to give the impression of being a semi-woke lifestyle brand through collabs with Richardson, hosting lookbooks by Blackfist, and supporting queer filmmaking by artists such as Brooke Candy, but it’s still a porn site on which women are almost across the board treated as objects in demeaning ways.

In the same sense, West would probably claim to stand for some sense of intense personal liberty while boasting of molding women into something he personally finds desirable and rapping “Send me some more shit, you triflin’ ho bitch (bitch, bitch, bitch)” on his new track.

So as porn giants, entertainers, and fashion collide, it’s perhaps easier to just accept that this is how culture works now. Everything happening a lot, all at the same time.

However, we can still expect more from it. Such is the case with “I Love It”, a track which in spite of classic Kanye production value is riddled with hypocrisy. It only allows for Kanye to be Kanye, when his message is one for the everyman, which is that everyone can be like Kanye.

Words by Max Grobe
Associate Fashion Editor