Are we finally ready to embrace Kim Kardashian?
She is after all a woman whose ass has launched more think pieces than Helen of Troy’s face launched ships
Kim Kardashian at Paris Fashion Week
This week Kim Kardashian appeared on The Project and was by all accounts a very polite, affable guest who answered questions fully and played along with the well-worn soft evening news show format. In itself that wouldn't warrant much reflection, but being a Kardashian it spawned a huge online response. She is after all a woman whose ass has launched more think pieces than Helen of Troy's face launched ships. But this time, unlike many things the reality star does, Twitter was awash with ordinary people surprising themselves by saying very nice things. The general consensus of Twitter, the internet's cultural hive brain, was she seemed like a nice lady. And no one could get over that they were saying that.
Personally I never understood the backlash about Kim Kardashian. As far as I'm concerned, since Clara Bow we've had IT Girls and they've all been open to debate around their deservedness of the attention. While in the past it was an invitation to Truman Capote's Black and White ball or Andy Warhol's Factory that society girls lusted after, now it's a reality show on E and Ryan Seacrest on board as a producer. Celebrity shifts, but it also doesn't at all. In fact the only difference between Kim and Eddie, or Jade, or Cory, is that she's arguably proven herself to be the most savvy—she hasn't burned out or burned through all her cash.
Fashion sets have always been quick to adopt a trend faster than the rest of the world, and she's been a favourite among the glossier haired tribes for a while now. First as a novelty, not unlike our own delight in seeing Lara Bingle in an Ellery flare, but later as a firm fixture. Where once she has to sneak into the MET ball under the trojan horse that was Anna Wintour's soft spot for young, erratic men—aka. Kanye West—her recent wedding guest list read like a rolodex of 30-years of aesthetic icons.
Outside of the world of Versace dinner plates, the reception was still frosty, and to be fair it was understandable. Many saw her as the representation of all that was wrong with the 21st century. Her whole existence was fuelled by the weakest points in our recent culture, our desire for fast, vacuous entertainment, the pornification of our idols, and our willingness to sit, unmoving and consume.
Although it's easy to say she was a product of our desires, it's also plausible that she was an observer of them. And as a woman immersed in celebrity culture, she was Paris Hilton's BFF remember, she read our desires, interpreted them, and fed them back to us in a perfectly proportioned, evenly tanned package.
How is that different from an app developer looking over a marketplace for a need and theorising how they may fill it to pay off their student loan? This is probably a good chance to point out that she is an app developer, a $200 million dollar app developer. It has been theorised that if the bible was an app that is roughly how much it would be worth.
Kim has had a series of good publicity moments this year, her silicon valley tech talk was well received, and the countless profiles of her are increasingly posing her in a positive light. If you managed to make it past her hairless pubic bone, last week's Paper profile that set out to break the internet was actually a warm portrait of a young mother. So when did our wider, non- Riccardo Tisci opinion, start to shift? Was it when she married the biggest artist in the world? Or had an adorable baby? Or when said adorable child dressed up as a skunk for halloween?
Maybe it was when we started seeing her as a human being, not as a catalyst for our own culture's decline. One thing you have to credit her on is her bravery in interviews, it might not be immediately apparent but reading back, she's always unshakably herself. Sure she enjoys the attention we give her, but why wouldn't she? What is a celebrity if not the vessel for our eyes and opinions. We are obsessed with celebrities, we create them then tear them apart for being cool and aloof when they don't want us peering into their lives. If they make a mistake we shriek, as if we would never slip up if so firmly under the public gaze.
Kim is one of the few celebrities who is always affable, and past the much discussed sex tape, you'd be hard pressed to point out another public gaff. She is warm, beautiful, and a PR dream. She is as respectful to her sponsors as she is to her fans. She is the celebrity we always wanted, because we created her. She is the first truly modern media deity who was a product, not a cause of our obsessions, and she knows it.
As the reality of that settles in we're beginning to enjoy her. Because after decades of endlessly critiquing our idols—a topic for another time—we've carved out our perfect one. She's beautiful, funny, open, divisive, and most importantly available. So don't feel condemned by your guilty pleasures, after all, she's just giving us what we want. We might as well indulge.
Text by Wendy Syfret