Friday, October 25, 2013

On Kim Kardashian's coveted Hollywood star (or lack thereof)

Last week in "news", Kim was disavowed a star on the Hollywood Blvd. To recap: Kim feels that she has defined a new type of television. She strongly feels that her 5 years of work as the "first" reality person was deserving of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the same place as people with larger bodies of work like Shirley Temple, Greta Garbo and Elvis Presley. Kim was disappointed with this turn of events and - rather than retire elegantly and perhaps re-group later - Kanye West became her advocate on national television. This is telling. If you are so famous as to currently deserve a star, should you not be also famous enough to do your own press tours?

Let's back up a step. Are you aware of how a person receives a star in the first place? I am. One must be nominated by a third party, ideally by someone who already has a star, and the fee is upwards of $30,000 USD. Once nominated, one is then subject to review by committee and then either confirmed or denied the privilege.

Kim may be one of the most famous names in reality television but she is not the first, nor did she do it singlehandedly. These would be the kind of things the committee would look for. The first reality stars I can think of off the top of my head would be the cast of the first Survivor. And before that, the father and son from The Bicycle Thief (1948). Then I would imagine the producers would be first in line for "inventing" the idea of reality. That's probably how Hollywood works, fairly in order, right?

The committee seems to lean toward those who have made a significant, tangible and positive impact in film and television. Here Kim falters again because Kim is unknowable (see @ohmeags). If she has a thought, or a value or a moral code or a favorite food or designer, despite the omnipresent camera, she has never shared it with us.

What she has shared is her big floppy body. Kim's is a Cinema of Attraction of the Body and all the ways it can horrify the American puritanical bourgeoisie. First it was overexposed in a pornographic video, where the make up was lovingly applied and subsequently fetishized. Then it was too big in some places, too small in others (think: diet pills). Then it was covered in too much make-up. Interestingly this look was named - to paraphrase another reality television show, Toddlers & Tiaras - Kim's Glam Look™. Like a swamp monster under the florescent light of a police cruiser it was gratifyingly (yet still horrifyingly!) revealed from the make-up whilst bathing. Then it was cast in a series of white dresses (for marriage, then later for divorce), then it wasn't. To speed up a messy divorce she used her body again, by getting pregnant with another man’s child, but it backfired and changed shape too much (big+pregnant+swollen = monster!). Despite a thousand pieces of the world's most expensive fabric and a lifetime of Olympic-style shopping sprees, none were ever, ever draped correctly, so much so that Vogue magazine digitally removed her body from their photographs. The Empress was always naked. If Kim had anything to say to us, she has said it with her body. This makes her a star of the modern silent avant-garde, and yes Kim, you are most definitely the first.

Kim's reality television is Kim's self-created reality. Period. She believed herself to be a "stylist" to the stars, and so she designed a closet for Paris Hilton. Paris had a sex tape, Kim filmed one, too. Paris disavowed her terribly on a radio show - as she did with her other former friend Lindsay Lohan - and Kim shot straight into the national consciousness, effortlessly, without uttering a word. (Kim personally owes everything to Paris Hilton.) Kim fancied herself a married woman and found an overly tall chump to do the honours. Kim is quoted as saying in response to a question about how she caught such an eligible bachelor; "I ignored him. He wasn't used to that". Her silent body, her feminine mystique.

What Kim isn't is an actress, or even a student of the craft. Tangled together (and not Kim alone) the K's are a fascinating pastiche of a middle-class family that married well and managed to spin outrageous personal tragedy into outrageous fortune. Gaming the system to such an extent is a sheer genius. The mother should be teaching MBA seminars at Harvard, not hosting a ridiculous talk show. But these are scripts and Kim is wholly unconvincing. Speaking of which, one of the sisters on the show speaks so slowly I initially thought she was developmentally delayed.

According to the committee, Kim was not even nominated. If this is true, it's hilarious. In Hollywood, like everywhere else in life; if you can't win on talent, or money, or influence, you can win on merit. However, someone from the committee was quoted as saying that no one "really likes her very much". That’s just mean, but you don't send your boyfriend? Babydaddy? Kanye "The President Doesn't Care About Black People" West to shame the establishment for you. This is a man who proclaims himself a genius and a god. Picasso claimed to be a genius, but he did it after producing a coherent body of work over a lifetime. Like Kanye, Picasso was influenced by a fame-hunting and money-seeking woman who milked her relationship with him for all he had. You may want to slow your roll, Kanye. And Kim, you may want to examine why this icon of credibility is something you seek, yet don’t have the courage to ask for. It is one more example of knowing nothing about what you are doing and trying -like toddlers winning tiaras - to glam the world into making it Kim's own.

You see, Kanye is the narcissist mouth that Kim does not use, Kim is the body Kanye wishes to control. They complete each other like a shark meeting a tornado. Her body will continue to orbit his star until a richer, brighter, louder star comes along or until she finds her own voice. Now that would be something to watch! Never fear, Kim, it will happen as all things do in real life: when you are least expecting it.

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