Kim Kardashian West / Image via Twitter
There was no blueprint for Kim Kardashian’s genre of fame – aside from the obvious. A slew of socialites, most notably Paris Hilton, were famous in the same way (quote, “famous for being famous”) but there was no real framework for turning that into a long-lived empire. Hilton came the closest, but her Chihuahua-wielding reign has long felt nostalgic (or “very 2000s”).
Kardashian, on the other hand, has built a legacy that seems to keep going and going.
But will it?
A 40th birthday is as good a time as any to take stock of an empire, especially one that trades on youthfulness, and Kim’s milestone birthday party - a trip to a private island during the height of a deadly pandemic - had one clear message: we are completely out of touch. To quote Kanye West (though he apparently meant it as a compliment), “Kim Kardashian is the Marie Antoinette of our time.”
I don’t think turning 40 will put any real type of dent in Kardashian’s reign – Hollywood women have long defied the normal registers of time – but her elitism might.
Up until now, the Kardashian model has been fairly genius: any scandal that erupts irl is (usually) being simultaneously recorded as content for their show. Six months later, when Keeping Up With the Kardashians airs, that scandal is sympathetically repackaged for primetime telly. Naturally, anyone who took a stance on the scandal (whether critic or defender) might be interested in seeing it from their side.
It didn’t really matter how much flak they took, in fact, the bigger the better. It was all natural promo for their behind-the-scenes footage.
But the Kardashians have moved beyond their show.
There aren’t many TV series more popular than ever after 20 seasons so, despite what some of us may have relished in believing, Keeping Up With the Kardashians was certainly not cancelled. The Kardashian’s held absolute power in those negotiating rooms – and they decided to call time on the ratings jackpot.
Of course, this may have been nudged by the cracks appearing in their own lives, notably Kourtney’s unwillingness to continue and Kanye’s mental illness.
But by making the bold move to end the thing that truly made them famous, they have voluntarily removed a powerful tool from their PR arsenal. I mean, it was one thing to see the Jordyn Woods/Taylor Swift/Blac Chyna storylines from their perspective, but those ultimately amounted to celebrity gossip. The accusations being thrown at the Kardashians these days are bigger and badder – and the world is a much different place.
Travelling to a private island in the middle of a pandemic is bad, plastering it all over social media is worse.
Captioning those photos with the word “humbled” is beyond the pale.
It can be easy(ish) for those of us in New Zealand to forget how bad Covid-19 is. While we’ve successfully squashed the virus twice, America continues to reach new statistical heights, recently recording over 90,000 new cases in a single day. As people reminded Kim in her Twitter mentions, there are people who are dying.
I’ve never really subscribed to the Jameela Jamil school of thought around the Kardashians: i.e. that they’re exceptionally bad role models who promote eating disorders and butt enhancements. Diet culture existed long before we knew about the Kardashian Klan and it will likely exist in some form or another long after they’ve gone. The true problem with the Kardashians, in my opinion, is that they are capitalist hawks. They have almost no self-awareness and believe they deserve the obscene amount of wealth they possess.
And that attitude may have flown in 2008. They may have even gotten away with it in 2019. But in the year 2020, it’s coming up short.Support Villainesse