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July 9, 2015

To Kardashian or Not to Kardashian, or My issues with Journalism.

Kim Kardashian, Beauty, celebrity

I sort of love Kim Kardashian.

I think she is stunningly beautiful. Sometimes her wardrobe is tacky and at many times extraordinarily revealing but that somehow does not detract from her actual beauty.

Kim K seems to be one of those genetic-prize winners: a perfect cascade of femininity, vulnerability, sexuality and just plain old pretty mixed together.

It’s as if some cosmic laboratory dreamt up a gorgeous voluptuous female with huge eyes, long hair, abundant hips and breasts and pouty lips and gave them to three people: Angelina Jolie in part (less body but good lord she is beautiful), the woman at the Post Office in my neighborhood, and Kim K.

I guess it’s a kind of girl crush or just plain admiration of female beauty but I have no trouble admitting her aesthetic appeal.

I have trouble justifying why I even know who this person is.

If she is world famous for her beauty, is she a model?

Is she a muse, inspiring great works of art like Suzanne Farrell to George Balanchine or Judith Jamison to Alvin Ailey?

Is she known for her talent, skill, creativity, ambition, drive, vision, and passion? Is she known for her displays of humility, compassion, gratitude, service to humanity, concern for those in crisis, self awareness and generosity of spirit, finances and love?

She very well may possess these qualities in spades. But the truth is, I don’t really know why Kim K. is famous other than she is beautiful and she is stunning to look at in magazines, on the Internet, on TV or in person.

And it seems that the minutia of her life, along with her naked or scantily clad body have become expected and sought after pieces of journalism.

My issue is this: is journalism about revealing and presenting news as it affects our daily lives on a level other than the superficial? Has the line between journalism and entertainment become so blurred that the fairly basic events of Kim K.’s life (divorce, marriage, babies- basic) are blindly accepted as newsworthy?

As I write this I am thinking of some answers to my own questions.

There is at the heart of the beast, the need to sell a product—not information per se, but the mechanism that delivers the information. Because information is sold through portals like books, magazines, newspapers, Internet clicks and TV advertising spots, and my beautiful Kim K. is a proven sales magnet, it’s fairly obvious why she is as in demand as she is.

But is that really it?

I suspect there is more to it than that. It seems to me that an earthbound goddess such as Kim K. allows us escape, distraction, projection of perfection and then of course satisfaction or empathy when she experiences both success and failure.

It’s perhaps become the job of the journalist to deliver to the masses not just updates about political and social corruption/reform/progress but light-hearted fare about current husbands, sisters’ boyfriends, assorted ex-boyfriends, cover shoots and the trials and troubles of curvy beautiful rich privileged women.

A food metaphor could be sort of like the freshly baked and generously frosted cupcake sitting next to the wilted and picked over spinach. The cupcake is yummy. Delicious actually. And very pretty. But the cupcake is empty of any nutritional value, and even worse to consume only cupcakes while you neglect your greens may impact how you see and choose food.

That was a long and winding metaphor but essentially if shiny, beautiful, sexy and just plain jaw dropping goddesses are to be considered worthy of news coverage, then the actual issues of profound impact in our society have some stiff competition for our attention.

As a woman who has struggled to find popular images of femininity that aren’t centered on sexuality, promiscuity, rebellion and drama, I see a particularly sad void.

I wonder—where are the pictures of women working hard every day as nannies, housekeepers, teachers, nurses, doctors and athletes?

Where are the images of women living in accord with values we want our children to embrace like intellect, humility, compassion, ethical responsibility and charity?

It’s not that Kim K. is a heartless monster—but is her moral compass why she is famous?

Is that why she sells? Is it because of her personal values and choices?

It doesn’t seem that way to me.

So I am caught in my own ethical dilemma. As I mentioned I sort of love Kim K. And I am also sort of conflicted by this love.

The other aspect of my feelings range between irritation and outright anger!

I mean, Who Is She???

So my issue and my interest and my conflict are all wrapped up in the same bundle: I loathe what I also love, and in my own way contribute towards the perpetuation of journalism being used as a platform for superficial celebrity notoriety rather than personal interest stories based on qualities you cannot always detect from a pretty smile.

This is an open-ended exposed inner-monologue that has many potential threads for exploration: for example, if Melinda Gates looked as hot and sexy as Kim K., would she also be known for her incredible charity work?

Or does beauty always eclipse contribution?

And will we see a day where journalism and media dare to support the beauty of the intellect, the beauty of the hard worker, the beauty of the bookworm?

When will the brain be as sexy as the body?

Therein lies the question as I peruse the internet: To Kardashian or Not to Kardashian.

 

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Relephant Read:

Why Celebrities Matter.

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Author: Melinda Abbott

Editor: Renee Jahnke

Image: Joel Kalumba-Flickr

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