Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

A Minute-by-Minute Recap of Kanye West’s “Runaway”

00:06: “Runaway” opens with an obviously disheveled Kanye running to or from something—a perfect analogy for my thoughts about this “full-length film”.

While my feelings about Kanye are well-documented, I wasn’t in love with the idea of spending a half hour watching what I knew would be a buffet of barely coherent and creative justforthesakeofbeingbarelycoherentandcreative-ness, and I stayed away from the Saturday premiere. Aside from a couple private conversations, I also didn’t read anything about it either. (and I actually still haven’t)

But, between me not wanting to not be able to add anything to the inevitable myriad “Runaway” conversations (and references) that’ll occur in the next few weeks and an unexpectedly strong sense of pop culture arbiter obligation, I finally relented and watched all 34 minutes and 33 seconds of it Tuesday afternoon. Basically, I was too curious and too conceited to stay away any longer.

As far as Kanye’s actual running, the best way to describe it would be that his stride reminds me of an opening scene in a random Jim Carrey-ish movie where a down-on-his-luck Jim Carrey-ish character is late for a job interview and is trying to catch a bus that the audience (and the snickering bus passengers) knows he has no chance in hell of actually catching; a scene establishing the Carrey-ish character’s down-on-his-luckedness. These scenes usually end with the Jim Carrey-ish character either falling in a puddle or getting tripped by a sassy old lady’s cane. (The old lady also usually says something like “Watch it, buddy“)

Neither happened in “Runaway”.

00:24: As what looks to be a comet falls from the sky, Nicki Minaj begins her 23 second long narration, starting in a standard Old English accent (think of how “The Canterbury Tales” are supposed to be read aloud), but breaking into standard Old Hoodrat once she starts rhyming. This obvious, Costner-esque break (and the fact that she’s even doing this narration) endears her to me even more. As much as it pains me to say it, I’m officially a member of Team Nicki. Please shoot me.

00:47: We finally hear some Kanye music, as “Runaway”—the opening track on his upcoming “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“—plays in the background while Ye is speeding through a psychedelic forest while driving a car that definitely was a part of my Hot Wheels collection in 1986. I’m already extremely annoyed by everything that’s going on.

And, between the production costs of this “full-length film” and the 1001 guest appearances he’s had on the 501 songs he’s released in the past two months, I’m also extremely curious about how much money he’s spent creating and promoting this album. Maybe his beautiful, dark, and twisted fantasy is to file for bankruptcy.

03:00: Kanye gets out of his car to investigate a mysterious creature lying unconscious in the middle of the road. The creature is surrounded by tree limbs, fire, and homosexual deer. Basically, it’s just like Easter at Bishop Long’s mansion! (Too soon?)

Anyway, it’s obvious the creature in the middle of the road was the streaking comet from earlier. It’s also obvious at this point that Kanye truly does watch a lot of porn.

05:10: It’s at this moment that I figure out the “creature” is a Phoenix—a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, and (according to Sanchuniathon) Phoenicians. (And people said the Greek Mythology elective I took my sophomore year was a waste of time. Ha!)

I’m also finally able to accurately identify the actress cast as the Phoenix—former Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks. She has nice boobs, I guess.

Ebanks is also one of Nick Cannon’s ex-girlfriends (they were engaged), a fact that brings me to another point. There are certain men—Derek Jeter, Lil Wayne, Justin Timberlake, and John Mayer, to name a few—usually cited when people talk about famous male celebs who’ve been romantically linked with numerous different desirable female celebrities. Yet, despite the fact that he’s been linked to Selita Ebanks, Zoe Saldana, Christina Milian, and Mariah Carey, no one ever seems to put Nick Cannon in that category. This lack of recognition for Nick the Quick bothers me much more than it probably should.

06:04: In a sequence even weirder than the sentence I’m going to use to describe it, “Runaway” goes from “eh, whatever” to “this is kind of awkward” to “this is kind of, for lack of a better term, pornographic” in less than 30 seconds as Ebanks’ Phoenix (from this point on, I’ll just refer to her as “Phoebanks”) sits on a bed and thrusts her bare chest skyward, convulsing orgasmically as Kanye hunches over a beat machine and manically cuts up “Power”. At one point during this orgy of extremely contrived autoerotic imagery, Ebanks stares into the camera so intensely that I actually blush and start loosening my tie. (I was wearing no tie, by the way)

I also finally get it.

Kanye is completely obsessed with the idea that he and his music can make any woman orgasm. I think he thinks he surpasses the Washington Monument as the world’s preeminent phallic symbol, but the angst in his music (and in his “art”) stems from his frustration that every woman in the world doesn’t see him that way. While Lil Wayne wants to f*ck every girl in the world, Kanye really, really, really just wants them all to believe he’d give them the best orgasm they’ve ever had if they allowed him to.

7:30: While “All Of The Lights” plays in the background (a song which was originally titled “Ghetto University” on each of the 123 Kanye mixtapes I’ve downloaded in the past five weeks), the scene then segues into a fireworks display and parade, with the head of Michael Jackson and a golden statute of a winged Kanye don in a white cloth robe serving as some sort of pagan God/parade balloon float mash-up. Although I don’t believe Kanye’s in the Illuminati, I’m pretty certain their resume, application, and interview process looks something like this.

10:28: My 2nd favorite G.O.O.D. Friday track—“Devil In A New Dress”—begins as Kanye, Phoebanks, and a bunch of niggas from Detroit sit at a giant all-white table to eat. Also, in a detail sure to further convince Michelle Malkin of the evils of hip-hop culture, they’re being waited on by the country’s whitest catering crew.

13:52: During easily the stupidest sequence in this entire “full-length film”, Kanye performs the title track while accompanied by ballet. At this point, even Nathan Lane is probably sitting at home watching it and thinking to himself “Damn, that was some gay-ass shit.”

Between this, the VMA’s, and SNL, there’s a chance I’m just not smart enough to get his “Runaway” performances. There’s also a chance that Waka Flocka Flames and Willow Smith will collaborate for a track titled “My Little Bitches”. My point? F*ck chances, and f*ck each of these stupid-ass “Runaway” performances. (adding insult to injury, I actually like the song)

23:43: Phoebanks freaks out as the main course is finally served, AND IT’S A BIRD!!!!!!!! AND, SHE’S A BIRD!!!!! THIS MEANS SHE ISN’T FIT FOR THIS WORLD!!!!!

26:00: Kanye and Phoebanks have their first actual conversation as she explains why she can’t stay on Earth. If the metaphor for Kanye’s feelings about his place in the universe was any more obvious, it would be giving me a lapdance and writing this entry.

Directly after this conversation, Kanye and Phoebanks have the type of sex the Jetsons probably had when they conceived Elroy.

28:00: The “full-length feature” ends as Phoebanks leaves the planet to the chorus of my third favorite G.O.O.D. Friday song—“Lost In The World”—while Kanye keeps on running. I hope he catches that bus.

Although I have my aforementioned theories, I really have no idea what the hell Kanye is trying to do. Despite his seemingly forced eccentricity, he still compels us because he’s completely impervious to prediction; we pay attention because we have no f*cking clue what he’s going to do next. None.

But, I do know one thing: I can’t wait to buy (yes. buy!) this album, so whatever it is he’s trying to do, it’s working.

—The Champ

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for and EBONY Magazine. And a founding editor for 1839. And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at Or don't. Whatever.

  • Thanks Champie darling.
    I no longer need to watch this.
    Doesn’t mean I won’t eventually. I just no longer have this burning need.

  • I love Kanye West, but that short film did not need Selita Ebanks squealing! lol I felt awkward for her.

    Anyway, Kanye Stans Unite. :D

  • Liz

    Those people at the table did seem a bit bizarre.

    Like they were from DETROIT!

    I’m glad you didn’t go by every minute. I could barely take this the first time. I love Yeezy to death but even I know he gets carried away with himself.

  • Liz

    Oh. About Selita. I think she looked beautiful, and up until a few weeks ago I thought she was seriously overrated. Mostly because she has a boxy figure and I thought it odd she was so boxy, being an underwear model and all. But, I think her acting was better than Kanye’s, her body is kinda sick, and I loved her makeup.

  • The biggest thing I got out of watching this was the realization I need to go download all these G.O.O.D. Music tracks that are floating around.

    Kanye knows he really can’t lose right now, so he can pretty much do what he wants. I’m glad he’s stepped his creative game way up in the last year while in hiding, but I think he pushed the envelope right off the table with this No one man should make all that abstraction.

    Of course, that’s just me though.

  • simplysope

    I really really wanted to hate this video. I was almost certain it would be 35 minutes of the visual equivalent of Kanye jacking off to himself…. and it kinda was, but it was actually really endearing. He just wants us to like him, and even though he’s all twisty and misunderstood (Red Klansmen Masks?) I’m not mad at it. I like you Kanye West. I WAS mad at the fact that I spent a good 3 minutes trying to figure out of old girl was wearing something over her boobs, or if she was just naked.

    “Although I don’t believe Kanye’s in the illuminati, I’m pretty certain their resume, application, and interview process looks something like this.”

    I am fairly certain for the real Illuminati application, old girl would have been sacrificed or something, or at least they would have drank some of her blood.

  • “Runaway” was the most expensive student film of all time…OF ALL TIME! It had (what I thought cinematically) some cool moments, but overall it reminded me of something I would see as a senior thesis for a film student with no limit to his/her budget.

    I will say I enjoyed the soundtrack and looking forward to the official disc dropping.

  • My post from 2 days ago was my review of this “film.” Kanye basically spent 35 minutes LITERALLY d*ck-slanging his ego. Apparently, the Phoenix is supposed to be Kanye. What the hell ever. It was PAINFUL to watch. I want them 35 minutes back. Actually, I watched 31. Seems the last 4 were credits. At that point I was dunzo.

    Things I’d rather do with 31 minutes rather than watch “Runaway” again include:

    * Count the grains of rice left in my bowl
    * Paint my nails, smear them on purpose, and repaint them. Just because.
    * Listen to Taylor Swift’s CD
    * Count how many licks it takes to get to the center of the tootsie roll pop

    Anywho, here’s my review: iRanaway

  • Am i the only one who thought the short film was just an extended version of Andre 3000’s “Prototype” video?

  • I can’t even read your commentary (though i’m sure it’s delightful), let alone watch this video. kanye is not mj and after all his shenanigans ever, i can’t bring myself to spend 30 minutes of my life watching, reading or thinking critically about him. maybe i’m just tired. there are dancers in it… (i’m a dancer, lol)

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