I Write Letters

Dear Western Pop Culture and Everyone Who Pays Attention to It:

The Kardashian Sisters are human beings. I just thought we all needed that reminder, since it seems like many of us are incapable of speaking about them without using the most hateful, objectifying, exploitative, and straight-up eliminationist rhetoric.

While I have everyone's attention, I'd also like to specifically address famous men, like Daniel Craig or Jonah Hill, for whom publicly trashing the Kardashians has become a great new pastime: The constant whinging about how the Kardashians aren't famous for "doing anything," because what they do—put themselves out there as entertainers—doesn't meet your threshold for the sort of entertainment that deserves fame, is really ugly.

You don't have to like what they do, and you don't even have to like them. But there's a market for reality programming, and it's a niche they're willing to fill. I sure as shit wouldn't be willing to live my life, or some partially-scripted and highly-edited version of my life, on camera, for the entertainment of others—not for all the money in the world. I wouldn't be interesting enough, anyway, even if I did.

That's not incidental. People want to watch the Kardashians. Whether it's to love them or to hate them, people want to watch them. I don't know if they've got talent, but they've evidently got charisma.

I get that there may be some haunting Video Killed the Radio Star anxiety about the increasing popularity of "unscripted" television, when your multimillion-dollar paychecks are dependent upon the popularity of mega-produced mega-polished mega-productions. But, listen, if there's really not enough room in this media-saturated world for the Kardashians and James Bond, that's not really their fault. Fame is fickle because it's based on the whims of the consumer.

(And the television executive. And the tabloid editor.)

Now back to the general audience for one last thing: In many (most) of these multitudinous attacks on the Kardashians, I have detected a little (a lot) of the sneering hostility that tends to get reserved for women who have the temerity to take up space in the world. Which is really gross, and really pathetic in the year 2011. And don't even get me started on the transmisogynist "humor" used against them, or the heinous ubiquity of "jokes" intending to demean them sheerly on the basis of observing some of their partners are/have been Black men.

Maybe we can all just lay off the Kardashians already. By which I mean: Save our criticisms for things that deserve criticism (like, say, the casual use of transphobic slurs), and stop talking a stream of nonstop rubbish auditing their "right" to be famous.

I'll end with his note of irony: Despite my well-known reputation for consuming all manner of garbage television, I have never seen an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, or any of the spin-offs. The primary reason I even know who the Kardashians are is because of all the people who can't shut up about how horrible it is that they're famous. Whoooooops!


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