They took the words right out of our mouths.
In an interview that hits home for many of us, Kim K explains her branding and gives us a lesson in Hip-Hop. Love or Hate Kim and her ‘brand’, is it wrong to accept that she’s not going away any time soon?
For those few who haven’t yet had the pleasure, Kardashian is a 31-year-old US reality TV star, lately prominent in Britain, who has, since becoming famous in 2007, ascended to the level of a symptom in the culture. Keeping Up With The Kardashians, currently in its seventh season, is contrived, sensationalist, repetitive and witless, but no more so than a lot of things one enjoys without accusing them of spiritual corruption. The difference in this case is reach. Twitter is an unreliable measure of influence, but Kardashian has nearly 16 million followers, putting her ninth in the world, three places behind President Obama. (Lady Gaga is number one; Taylor Swift number eight.) With her two sisters, Khloé and Kourtney, she runs a chain of clothing stores called Dash, has a Las Vegas-based outlet called Kardashian Khaos, promotes makeup and fashion lines under the label Kardashian Kollection, all of which act as window dressing for the business, merely, of being Kim Kardashian: a woman of above average looks, seemingly rather nice, who along with the rest of her family – emotionally speaking – strips on TV for tips. After the shoot, we sit in a courtyard at the back of the studio and Kardashian tries to explain what the fuss is about.
“When I hear people say [what are you famous for?], I want to say, what are you talking about?” she says slowly, her eyes wide as a bushbaby’s. “I have a hit TV show. We’ve shot more episodes than I Love Lucy! We’ve been on the air longer than The Andy Griffith Show! I mean, these are iconic shows, so it blows my mind when people say that.”
But you’re not performing; you’re just being followed around by cameras…
“But to be able to open up your life like that and to be so… if everyone could do it, everyone would. It doesn’t make sense to me.”
The day before the interview, I go to Dash in Beverly Hills, the flagship store aimed at Kardashian’s teen fan base. A bouncer stands outside letting teenagers in one by one, although the store is almost empty. “There’s a line!” he calls out to baffled passers-by, and the teenagers snigger. Inside, the clothes are very nice; soft T-shirts, cute shorts and dresses, but that isn’t why people are here. Kardashian says that since the show started airing, the store has become a “tourist attraction” and the stock is angled accordingly. After taking photos of themselves in front of a giant Kardashian family montage, the adolescents buy one of several items within their price-range; a $20 compact mirror; pencils for a few dollars; or a $10 bottle of water with the Kardashian sisters’ photo on one side.
“Our water sells out all the time,” Kardashian says. “People collect them because each store has a different picture on the bottle.”
“It’s really crazy,” she says. “I mean, a water bottle? It’s crazy.” She blinks slowly at the wonder of effortless profiteering.
Kardashian characterizes her typical fan as “a younger girl, like 15 or 16, who loves fashion, loves to be a girly girl, loves beauty, glam”, and whom she respects as a backwards projection of herself. If you can overlook the vacant materialism, she is in some ways not a bad role model. She points out that she is not “your stick-skinny typical model”; that she doesn’t go out on benders; that she tries not to swear too much. “I remember this one time when I used the F-word – and everyone was like, I can’t believe you said that! You never say that! I am really cautious about what I say and do. If I look at the message I’m portraying, I think it definitely is be who you are, but be your best you.”
And yet she makes people incredibly angry. “Yeah. I have no idea why. I work really hard – I have seven appointments tomorrow before 10am. I’m constantly on the go. I have a successful clothing line. A fragrance. I mean, acting and singing aren’t the only ways to be talented. It’s a skill to get people to really like you for you, instead of a character written for you by somebody else.”
She is currently dating Kanye West, who might have had a hand in the following analogy. “When rap music first started,” Kardashian says, “rappers were not respected and people thought it was just a fad. And people thought reality shows were going to come and go. They have taken over the soap operas. So it’s a modern version of a soap opera.”
For the record then, what is Kardashian’s talent?
“What is my talent?” She cocks her head to one side. “Well, a bear can juggle and stand on a ball and he’s talented, but he’s not famous. Do you know what I mean?”
Yeah Kim…we know what you mean.
Images via WENN/Twitter