Kimmy Kardashian is koming back.
Hi there readers! This is another one of those blog posts that has been brewing in my brain for a while. I was scrolling my FB newsfeed today when I saw that Kim Kardashian is returning to filming Keeping Up With The Kardashians after the horrendous robbery that took place in Paris. Predictably, the misogynistic twitter jokes have started rolling in:
People enjoy Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Full disclosure: I don’t actually watch KUWTK. I know, I know, for those of you who regularly read my blog and know of my genuine love for reality tv that will come as a shock. But I don’t. I have watched the odd episode here and there and enjoyed it – I just never got hooked. Maybe I don’t relate to it as much as girls who have sisters? I only have one (legendary) brother so obviously my family dynamic is different.
I will say I think the runaway success of KUWTK is in large part due to the portrayal of the Kardashian sisters’ relationship. That relationship is something a whole hell of a lot of women relate to and enjoy seeing on tv. We all have a yearning to have our experiences reflected back to us; the Kardashians clearly meet that need in some way for a substantial set of people.
Kanye I love you like you love you.
More disclosure: I FUCKING LOVE KANYE WEST. Wait, hear me out!! Australians are an egalitarian bunch. We were settled by convicts. We don’t like tall poppies and we distrust a show-off. But Kanye is not Australian. Kanye is a black American and his self love is a radical act in what is still a very racist society. Also, his twitter is genius and according to my musician husband his music is pretty genius too. I don’t want Kanye West to be boring and basic and beige. I want my artists to be eccentric and push boundaries and be interesting as shit. Which he is. And he loves Kimmy K. So that equals points in her favour in my book.
Breaking down the Kimmy Kardashian hate.
But back to Kim. I know the accusations levelled at her the most are: One – she is famous for nothing. Two – she got famous off a sex tape so she is a bad woman. And three – she promulgates a kind of vapid materialism and vanity that people find off-putting at best and infuriating at worst. Allow me to deconstruct.
Famous for nothing.
The first accusation – that she is famous for nothing and has no talent. Well that is just patent bullshit. She is a master of the reality tv form. Like I said, KUWTK is not my jam but it is beloved by many, many people. Ask yourself how many reality tv shows have started and failed…? Not hers. Also, she is clearly a genius level business woman. Why is that a bad thing? I don’t see men who are successful at business getting torn down the way she does.
She is an expert brand builder. Yes, she began her career with privileges but cast your mind back to 2006. She first turned up as hate figure Paris Hilton’s stylist! And then came the sex tape. Like, that is not an easy thing to turn in your favour and go forth from and build an empire. Which brings me to the second accusation.
Famous off a sex tape.
The second accusation – she got famous off a sex tape so she is basically a whore who deserves…what…? Like I can’t even follow this line of thinking. It’s too infuriating. COME ON NOW! The sooner we stop getting co-opted by the patriarchy into dividing women into categories – “good” that is, chaste, pure, sexless and “bad” that is, sexual, seductive, fallen – the better. Again, the only people who benefit from this pernicious divide and conquer bullshit are the patriarchy. She is a great beauty. There have been famous great beauties forever. So she had sex on a tape – I don’t judge. She benefited from it- well at least it was her that benefited! To reference the tweet at the top of this post, I would argue that until she came along it was always the jizzer who ended up the winner, and never, ever the jizzee.
The hollow brand.
And the third accusation? That Kardashian represents a sort of self absorption, vanity and vapid materialism that people find gross? Okay, you know, I get it…BUT. I think it’s also tied up in her business proposition which is one that relies on saturating the media (tv, print, social) so that we buy her product. I think the accusation is really that she has all this giant cultural capital and yet she spends it on building her brand and not on philanthropy or trying to improve the world. But her brand is a mixture of sexy, beautiful, relatable and rich. Hence the selfies and the flaunting of wealth. And those brand contradictions are quite the contradictions for a famous woman to embody. Why the fuck does she have to be Audrey Hepburn or even Angelina Jolie for that matter? I don’t see male celebrities being interrogated the same way.
Go Kimmy K!!!
It feels to me like this “bad” woman is being criticised for not being “good” enough. As if there is only one way to be female, famous and beloved and that way is chastened, chaste and humble. And then she gets robbed, she is the victim of a violent and terrifying armed robbery, and people suggest she faked it for a publicity stunt. That is disgusting and frankly, woman hating. This went on sale, possibly one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen:
That was an actual Halloween costume (since withdrawn) that went on sale. There are writers who posited that the response to her being robbed was so callous because her brand is an empty, hollow thing. Because she stands for nothing but money and looking good. But isn’t that analysis just more internalised misogyny? Isn’t that more of the same, castigating her and demanding she behaves in a certain, narrow and proscribed way so that we can consider her worthy? The thing I like most about her is that she dares to reflect the male gaze. She gives zero fucks. Being sex positive, being body positive, being an openly and unapologetic ambitious business woman…to me that makes her as worthy as worthy gets. Go Kimmy K!!
However, the fact that she won’t call herself a feminist? That’s a whole other ball of wax. That I definitely have an issue with. Get that shit together Kim Kardashian and then go on with ya bad self! The end.