I am krazily koncerned about the Kardashians. I’m a kompassionate kind of girl, so really, how kould I not worry about this komplex family unit?
And, by the way, I’m koncidering starting a movement to eliminate the letter “K” from the English language entirely, which means that I will need a new last name. I’m thinking I should probably steer clear from the surname “Duggar” though, what with their heavy associations with religion and chastity and recently revealed charges of child molestation.
Ironic how some things turn out, no?
But back to Kim and Kourtney and Khloe and Kylie and Kendall and Kurfluffle, who I’m just assuming is the family pet bunny. They have not gone away! Wasn’t part of the deal of making them famous for doing nothing that eventually they would gather their zillions like strippers scoop up the one dollar bills that smell of baby oil and desperation that end up on the end of the stage? Who negotiated the contract with this family and left out an exit clause?
Now listen: there’s no way that I can even pretend to be the kind of person who, though quite smart and discerning, doesn’t have a real weakness for some mindless television. I guess I could try to pull off such a stance, but since about a third of my writing centers on the recorded lives of Real Housewives, nobody would ever believe me – and they shouldn’t. And I also understand that there are many people out there who think that reality TV cannot possibly get any more vapid and gross than The Real Housewives franchise, and those people are entitled to their opinion. But having such an opinion will force me inquire whether the person has ever seen even a commercial for Marriage Boot Camp because there is the mindless and then there is the grotesque, and when you have people who are only famous for being reality stars and they have decided to earn some more money by appearing on yet another reality show and the concept of that show is to pretend to repair a marriage that probably should never have occurred in the first place and now involves complications like an alleged extramarital affair with a transsexual who sold the story to the tabloids, that’s on another level than the shit I watch and that level is located beneath the Earth’s surface and it’s submerged in a dank muck that can only be geologically created by a combination of desperation and Botox gone awry.
I spent a lot of years just ignoring the Kardashians and I did it because I figured they’d be going away soon, like Paris Hilton finally did. I remember when they first appeared in magazines and on television screens and I laugh when I recall that it was due to Kim Kardashian going on a date with a newly-single Nick Lachey and it’s silly to think that story qualified as news, but somehow it did. I know that I said to myself as I saw the picture of the two of them in front of some movie theatre, “I wonder which one of them called the paparazzi to let them know they were there…” because, even in L.A., photographers don’t stake out random movie theatres in the hopes that a wanabe starlet will maybe wander in to see an art house film. They are alerted by the starlets themselves because, somewhere around 2005, appearing in US Weekly clutching either a huge Starbucks cup or a small serving of Pinkberry suddenly became enough to make you famous.
I know there was a sex tape that followed with Kim and Ray J, a rapper I’d never heard of and, to this day, if you plunked the guy down in front of me, I probably wouldn’t know who he was. But what I do know is that the tape and her incredibly ample posterior made her famous and then suddenly she had a show and it turned out that there were seemingly hundreds of family members who appeared as though from nowhere and they all had hair the color of a blackened heart and names that started with the same initial and I watched the first episode so I could try to understand what the fuss could possibly be about and all I saw were sisters who were weirdly sexual with one another and who couldn’t make it through a sentence without saying “like” at least four times and they all spoke without any inflection in their voices, but then again, I guess that issue shouldn’t have mattered because they weren’t really saying anything of consequnce anyway.
This show will last another year or two and then they will just go away like a cured fungus, I thought to myself.
It was not the first time that I have been wrong – but that misread of our society and what we could possibly value and care about and tune in for and make rich really surprised me and I don’t think I’m over it yet.
I don’t live in a cave and I do go to celebrity gossip sites and I scroll through and don’t click on stories about Teen Moms and Kate Gosselin and all things Kardashian, but I still see the headlines – and there are thousands of them. I also sometimes have issues sleeping soundly and often there is nothing on television in the thick of the night besides episodes of Full House and infomercials about how the key to the finest and plumpest skin in all the land can be found inside of a melon in the vast countryside, so there have been times when I have turned to E! and watched an episode or three of Keeping Up with the Kardashians and I walk away from the show feeling a little bit dirty and very legitimately perplexed.
I can actually see the appeal of Khloe. She’s got the build of a linebacker but she knows how to dress for her shape and she is kind of funny sometimes and she strikes me as protective of her family and she knows how to have a confrontation so a conflict won’t fester and ooze and she also seems maybe bright enough to know that this part of her life is just for show. I never invested enough in her to care about who she married or who she might divorce or which rapper she’s currently dating, but she seemed like a somewhat real person and her voice didn’t stay at one tone or octave at all times and I never walked away from an episode wondering why nobody has killed her yet. But the rest of them? I was able to locate nothing about any of them to understand the appeal they definitely must have and I genuinely do not know how this society has embraced them in the way it’s all gone down.
I think it’s undeniable that Kim has a beautiful face, though I can’t help but find it jarring to watch her sitting at a kitchen table discussing absolutely nothing while made up with eyelashes so long and full that it looks like she has either a feather duster or small kittens attached to her eyelids. It’s not that her makeup isn’t perfectly applied; it is! It was obviously done by a professional with a shovel that can also provide a sick contour, and I get that she knew she’d be on camera, but I have honestly never seen someone in real life or in reel life so loaded with makeup when they weren’t attending an event like a wedding or the porn awards that are held annually in Vegas. The other thing is that Kim seems like a relatively nice person, but she never really says anything of consequence. Most of them don’t. It’s tempered thoughts told in a bland manner and they all blink their eyes extra slow – probably due to the weight of the lashes – and they lift forkfuls of salad into their painted mouths and slap one another on the ass and talk about nothing. And when the time comes and the seasons change and the Earth rotates and they actually do find themselves discussing something of real consequence – like their brother’s possible addiction and severe weight gain and debilitating depression or their stepfather transitioning into a woman – I kind of cannot believe that they are having these discussions on camera.
Now, I know enough about production and contracts to know that Kris Jenner – the Machiavellian Mother whose very presence makes me often call my own mother to thank her for not exploiting me for commerce – gets to see rough cuts of the show and basically has the power to remove any moment she doesn’t want in the final cut. And I guess that part of me can’t help but applaud her for creating such a power for herself, but I’m just not sure how it could help her troubled child to have her painted daughters discussing him while the cameras roll. I don’t know how it is that you can get to a place in your own heart and mind where you learn how to see your struggling kid as a storyline and, though I wish none of them any actual ill will or real misfortune other than to spontaneously combust and go away so there can be better things playing across our television screens, I can’t help but think that if the brother’s issues are as dire as they have been made out to be, there could potentially be a really terrible outcome and I think what saddens me the most is that there will then be meetings to decide how it will all play out on the show. I’m not saying that if the show didn’t exist – if his entire family had not sold their entire souls for constant attention – that Rob Kardashian would be in perfect mental and physical health. I don’t know that guy and I haven’t watched the show nearly enough to know anything of consequence about him or whether he is emotionally balanced, but this scenario cannot be helping him and, though it’s made them all richer beyond anyone’s initial assumption of how much profit there could be in the realm of reality television, there has to be a price to pay and I wonder what price will finally be too high or if that barometer simply doesn’t exist anymore.
I did watch the episodes where the family discussed dealing with Bruce Jenner’s transformation because I wanted to see how it was handled and I thought it was all handled pretty well and that every person came off as compassionate and well-meaning and I think that there might actually be people out there who are struggling with a similar issue who could find a real comfort in seeing a family try to stick together. But I was also going through a writing funk about two weeks ago and I had a ton on my mind and I needed to clear my head of the cobwebs I was sure had settled inside and exercising didn’t work and talking to a very handsome guy on the phone didn’t work and taking three Tylenol PMs didn’t work, so I turned on the TV and went to watch House of Cards, but I just couldn’t make myself concentrate and that show requires fucking focus, so I finally sighed and switched to regular cable and scrolled through and ended up on an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians that centered around a seventeen year old’s lips – and that’s me explaining the plot literally and not making any kind of completely inappropriate joke.
Seems a girl who grew up with cameramen in her living room and in her bathroom and was thrust into a spotlight before she could personally understand what it might possibly mean and then gave consent to having her life projected to the masses currently feels a little insecure about having somewhat thin lips. We all have insecurities and they exist at any age, but anyone want to try to take the idiotic stance that this kid’s physical insecurities have not been magnified to a percentage that’s somewhere around six-septillion because her image has been plastered across screens and tabloids since before she got her period? Anyhoo, the girl finally got some lip enhancements and those things have ballooned up to an almost incomprehensible size, but when reporters ask her questions about any of it, she clamps those inflated lips shut because she’s not ready to talk about having obvious tweaks made to her appearance.
I could maybe expound for a day and a half about whether or not I think this girl should have to say anything she doesn’t feel like talking about to anyone, but could I possibly have been the only person who was most confused as to why reporters wanted to speak to her in the first place? She is seventeen years old. She does not sing. She does not dance. She does not write and she does not act. She was all but grandfathered into a reality empire that I truly believe will slowly destroy the family – and perhaps the world at large – from the inside out, but it is a legitimate fact this kid doesn’t actually do anything that should have garnered her this amount – or any – attention. And when I watched her talk about how she wanted to explain things to her “fans,” I literally screamed at the television set, “Fans of what?”
I get that Kylie Jenner is famous for being on a reality show, but who are the people who have decided that they like her and what could that affinity possibly be based on? The girl has done nothing on that show. It might not better society’s future in general, but at least Khloe has a personality that comes across on television and she says some incendiary things every now and again and you might be able to buy that she could maybe run a business because she’s got some steel inside of her that flashes out of her eyes when she really seems to have something to say. But in all the episodes I’ve come across over the years, I have never seen this Kylie chick do anything except text. Seriously – she is filmed texting and maybe she then says something, but it’s never anything evocative or funny and it’s often not even a full sentence and she often says it without looking up from her phone. And I get that she’s only seventeen, but let’s all go ahead and be honest and admit that both she and her family gave up on her childhood a very long time ago and now she looks almost exactly like a life-sized doll that I once saw on display at The Museum of Sex and I’d be more concerned that my greatest physical likeness is one made out of latex instead of the fact that the fans of my televised texting might be confused by the physical transformation I have made to my face and that I have never lived an extended period of my adolescence off-camera and that it is my own mother who made that choice for me in the first place.
The truth is that I don’t really care about any of these people, but I do very much care about what this rampant and watery emptiness is doing to all of us as people. I think we’re losing something important when we anoint people to superstar status before they have done anything to earn it. I worry that we are embracing a mindset where being looked at matters far more than being listened to and I’m seriously concerned that it’s become acceptable that people sitting around on their phones are being filmed with cameras and that nothingness is being televised because we are so starved for entertainment that we have become able to be entertained by absolutely nothing at all.
Just a few days ago, one of my favorite websites published a discussion between two writers about why Kim Kardashian should be taken seriously. I could feel my eyebrows raising as I clicked on the article and I settled back to read intelligent men discussing Selfish, Kim’s new book of selfies, a joke that pretty much writes itself and allows me to relax for a second and take a nice sip of strong coffee. But I almost spit my coffee clear across the room when I read the following:
“Here's where it may start to get really interesting. What might it mean that collective critical thinking, such as it is, in this case, the acceptance of Kim not as a freak show, huckster, or something sold, but instead as something self-created, self-aware, and sincere...”
You know what? I think it’s fine that there are people willing to delve into the pop cultural landscape to seek to understand who we are as a society and what currently motivates us, and I’d even be willing to believe that Kim Kardashian is maybe somewhat self-aware, though I will not even entertain the notion that she is a walking commodity that was created by herself instead of by a committee of people who have profited handsomely off of her. She is something sold, and she is selling herself, and maybe that’s okay for her and maybe she’s at peace with the choices she has made, but through all of it, the only sentiment left screaming through my head is still the question, “Famous for what?”