Kardashianitis

This morning, New York mag’s website featured a story titled “What Will the Fashion World Do With Kim Kardashian?” It was a well-written article, partially an examination of the snobbery directed at Kim from select fashion-world heavyweights. Supposedly some designers refuse to dress her, seeing it as a debasement of their talents. Supposedly Anna Wintour has banned her from the Met Gala. Supposedly.

The more interesting part to me is the author’s musings on Kim Kardashian as a construct—or Konstruct, I guess. She’s built a multimillion-dollar, multifaceted empire—nail polish, klothing lines, reality show, product endorsements—ostensibly on the charms of her personality but really on the utter lack of shame that allows her to televise every moment of her life, crowdsource every decision, and embrace her own hype so completely the distinction between genuine and fake not just disappears but ceases to even matter.

I’m not a fan of reality TV to begin with, and I am especially unenthused about the inescapable Kardashians. I have not seen any of the family’s shows, nor do I ever plan to. But still I find myself simultaneously repelled and fascinated by the family. Their popularity represents so much of what’s awful about American culture, but, to lean on a kliché, it’s like witnessing a train wreck—you just can’t look away.

Voyeurism is increasingly becoming an inescapable part of our lives, between all those different social media platforms, the ubiquity of camera phones, and those reality shows that spawn one another like a virus. I guess it’s no wonder then that a family so hell-bent on exposing every private detail (they don’t even take off their mikes to go to the bathroom) has won if not adoration from the masses, then at least a reluctant, twisted interest.

 

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