The Milgram experiments, which began in 1961 at Yale, studied human’s willingness to inflict pain on other people. The experimenters instructed subjects to administer high-voltage shocks on another participant — that participant was, in fact, an actor. Even as the actor began banging on walls and screaming, more than half of participants obeyed orders to increase voltage.
I was reminded of Milgram’s study at Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 show, watching a model with a broken stiletto boot perilously limp down the runway. It took everything her limbs could muster to simply keep upright, and as she inched forward, the crowd stood with mouths agape. The question on my — and, I imagine, everyone’s — mind was: Should I intervene before her ankle snaps? Or should I follow orders and behave as one does at a typical fashion show?
And then there was the sheer magnitude of the event. Fashion shows are typically 15 to 30 minutes long. Yeezy Season 4 lasted four hours. It began at 1:30 p.m., when guests boarded shuttle buses on Manhattan’s West Side (cabs weren’t allowed near the entrance to the park) and ended at 5:00 p.m. The clothes in the show were — as in previous seasons — mostly beige, cream, and black, in either oversized or body conscious silhouettes. Parkas, sweater-bralets, and off-shoulder hoodies were all paired with the aforementioned boots, wobbly on more than one occasion.
Was yesterday’s show art? Capitalism? Sadism? The line seems hard to draw. Eventually, one man did intervene to help the wobbling model. As she limped off the runway, leaning on his shoulder, the crowd applauded. — Alice Hines