Why I Hate (what) The Kardashians (represent)
It was an innocent post on a friend’s Facebook page. A friend who I like, respect, enjoy and is an incredibly nice and generous person. But when she asked if it was “weird” that she so enjoyed meeting someone who worked with Kim Kardashian and hearing the scoop about what a nice person she was, I answered. And I felt a little bad about it, but she asked, right?
I said, “Honestly, I can’t look past what I see as an incredibly negative impact on society and our twisted values towards everything from materialism to body image. I don’t care if she’s “sweet,” when you have that kind of platform and don’t use it to make the world a better place, but rather to promote yourself and your materialistic values, you’re a loser in my book.”
She didn’t know that it’s bad to ask me such questions when I’m in a kinda foul mood. Not her fault.
But I don’t care how nice Kim Kardashian is to the people she works with, she’s a fucking cancer on the soul of society. At least I didn’t say that on Facebook. Her, and her entire family. I don’t care if they kiss every baby in every orphanage on the planet, they are the epitome of the vain, shallow, self-serving, materialistic, selfish, unrealistic and destructive behavior that is not only destroying the planet, but making modern American culture one of the largest forces leading us down that path.
So let’s get a few things out of the way. I will start, as I often do, with my favorite quote of all times, from that great American philosopher, Dave Barry, who will some day realize how much he loves me. “A person who is nice to you and not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.”
Of course Kim Kardashian is nice to her real-estate agent. Sometimes “nice” has to do with the impact that a person has on the world around them. And the more impact you have, the more responsibility you have. “Nice,” then, is less about how you make the people close to you feel, but about how all of the people you touch feel as a result of that touch. I’m willing to bet that someone close to Hitler, maybe who knew him as a child even, would say, “he was always so kind to me, I think he was very insecure, people misunderstand who he really was.”
That may be, who am I to say? His tailor probably loved him. But I’m pretty clear that the impact of his actions on the world are in no way mitigated by the good manners with which he spoke to his tailor.
That’s how I feel about the Kardashians. Yes, I just compared them to Hitler, and I will stand by that. Because I think that the impact they have on the world is about that positive.
Before I tell you why, let me make very clear that I am a fan of capitalism in theory. I have no issue with wealth, or even wealth inequality – I don’t think that we all are, or need to be, equal in any regard. HOWEVER, I have huge issues with exploiting the insecurities of others in order to amass fortunes that ultimately serve to hurt those others. And that’s what I think celebrity culture does, in large part. Especially those who are famous simply for being famous. For “selling” us a lifestyle that few of us can possibly afford and marketing it as The American Dream. Which is what they do.
We admire them simply for being rich. Well, and tacky, and thoughtless and scandalous. We have given them millions of dollars for the pleasure of watching them set the standard of what it means to “have it.”
As a society, we are suffering from the delusion that we should all have bigger houses, fancier cars, bigger bling, grander adventures. MORE. BIGGER. BRIGHTER. Largely because of people like them.
And it’s killing us. We are drowning in debt and insecurity all based largely on this idea that we have to “Keep Up With The Kardashians.” As if keeping up with the Jones’ wasn’t bad enough. Her wedding was “our” dream wedding. Great! Promote the idea that couples should go thousands of dollars in debt for a party that will impress other people. No, it’s not reasonable. It is dangerous.
Promote the idea that we should marry and divorce on a whim. That any personal event can be packaged and sold, as if it is about what it can “get” us rather that what it means to us or does to us. Promote the idea that dating is about what “he” can give you, where he can take you, what he can do to impress you, rather than slow and honest discussions about who we are and what we want as humans. Promote the idea that what we wear to an event is more important than …..
And for goodness sake, you win if you get more things and more money…
No, I won’t buy it. And I won’t stand by and watch while other people watch her and say “but she’s so nice.” It is killing us. We are buying things we can’t afford, with no regard to the debt, the impact on the planet, the condition of workers, the waste or even if it will actually make us happy.
Does she know what impact she has on the world? I don’t suggest that she intends to do harm. I’m quite sure she doesn’t, but here’s the deal, for her and her whole twisted family: When you have that kind of platform and don’t use it to fix some of the problems in the world, then you fail as a human. Just flat-out fail.
She could use all that power to live a perfectly luxurious life and help us see how our behavior is killing us. How we consume and waste in a way that is not only driving us into debt and taking us far away from our authentic selves and authentic relationships, but that also allows us to turn a blind eye to real problems. Climate change? Hunger? War?
The money that was spent (whether it was profit or not) on her wedding could have funded early childhood education programs in Seattle. But by making such a spectacle of her wedding she showed us what she valued. And by supporting it, we showed her what we value. Oh, I know, the marketers “gave” her that stuff so they could be seen. I get it, I come from marketing. But why is THAT what should be seen? Why are those things what we should sell? Why are we buying it?
I’m sorry, it’s disgusting.
Is she misunderstood? Is she a victim of the world in which she grew up? Probably. But she’s all grown up now, and she can stand up to it. In fact, she’s one of very few people who can. She could speak credibly to how corrosive this culture is – even to the people who promote it. Who were weaned on the rancid teat of materialism. (No offense, Mrs. Jenner, I’m sure your teats are lovely.)
If Kim is the lovely person that some people would like to think she is, here are some suggestions for her (and I’m resisting the urge to tell her to wash her face.)
1. Stand up to it. Look at people like George Clooney, Oprah and Angelina Jolie as examples. Are they perfect? Nope. Are they living a spartan life? Nope. But even with their luxurious lives, they are doing real work in the world to make it a better place. To shed light on the problems we face and the solutions we can work towards. They are every bit as famous, and every bit as luxurious, but they are setting examples of thinking beyond their next party and their next “oh my god I’m so trashed” photo-opp.
2. Give people something aspire to that is GOOD for them. Rather than being some strange Suess / Orwell Dystopian Princess, help the next generation of kids avoid the pitfalls that your stiletto heels fell headlong into. Wash your face (damn it, I meant not to say that) and launch an “inner beauty” campaign for urban kids. Start a contest for kids to find their own look and reward creativity rather than material-mob mentality. Start a media project to help kids talk about how they feel with their families and friends. Use that (absolutely amazing) ass of yours to launch a body-image project for teens. DO SOMETHING GOOD. And if you do something good, often enough, you will be something good.
3. How about a show in which YOU celebrate real people, living real lives. You could even call it “Getting Real With Kim.” (But please god don’t make it the insulting black-face style travesty of whatever that things was that Paris Hilton – to whom you bear an uncanny likeness – and Nicole Ritchie did. Could that have been more offensive?) Take us on a journey of real discovery about what it means to make life work, and the amazing things that real people face, do and accomplish in the real world. Not a “pity the poor people” charity hour, but a “real world heroes” kinda thing.
4. Warren Buffet. Enough said.
And no, showing up for a photo opp because you wrote a check to some charity is not the same as being charitable. Looking good is not the same as being good. And certainly is not the same as doing good.
As long as you are the poster child for materialism, vanity, and capricious folly, you are not doing anything good in this world. Worse, with the celebrity platform that you have, you are endorsing these things as societal goals.
No, it’s not your “fault” that this society looks up to its celebrities. But you are solely to blame for your actions, and the impact they have on others. “But I didn’t mean to send the message that we should….” Doesn’t matter, you did it. It’s like saying, “I didn’t mean to give you a black eye when I punched you in the face.” Doesn’t matter, you still threw the punch.
So ya, I hate everything the Kardashians represent. And I hate that we celebrate them and mask it in the veil of “they’re great marketers.” Yup, they are. Genius marketers. Which is what makes it so much worse that they market toxic crap.