Why I defend Kim Kardashian

20 Aug

Look, I don’t think Kim Kardashian needs any help from me: she’s far too rich and famous to actually let the haters bring her down. And yet, I feel compelled to come to her aid—if not out of genuine sympathy, then at least because her role as walking punchline is absurd. There are people out there who spew hate and actively make the world a shittier place. There are people more deserving of our mockery. Which is not to say that Kim should be off limits comedically—far from it. Make all the jokes you want, but do make sure they’re original. Because Kim’s mere existence isn’t as inherently hilarious as so many seem to think.

In light of her wedding, the jokes have been more and more persistent. And sure, some of them are funny, but the vast majority come down to the following—Kim Kardashian is a vapid, vacuous whore. Let’s break this down.

1. Kim Kardashian is stupid. Is she, though? I’ll give you that she doesn’t have a whole lot of actual talent and has gotten famous for, well, nothing, but that in and of itself is a skill. It takes some sort of savvy to know how to market yourself and make a career out of fame. So while jokes about Kim’s blatant attention-craving behavior make sense, jokes about how she’s a total idiot don’t, really. Not to mention the fact that, like Paris Hilton, her occasional airhead demeanor is likely a persona created to attract an audience. And it looks like it’s working. I’d also argue that there’s also a hint of misogyny to this humor (more on that in a bit). Kim Kardashian isn’t just dumb—she’s a “dumb bitch.”

2. Kim Kardashian is selfish. Spoiled, yes. Selfish is harder to prove. On Twitter, comedians retweet the admittedly shallow things Kim complains about, then counter her with a real world crisis or their personal problems. And yes, Kim’s nails pale in comparison to the number of unemployed individuals in this country, or the violent persecution of gay people in Uganda. But just because she’s tweeting about frivolous issues (which, I might add, we all do) doesn’t mean she has no sense of more pressing problems. How else to explain the clothes she donates to the Dream Foundation, or her trip to Africa in support of Russell Simmons’ Diamond Empowerment Fund? You can find a full list of her charitable contributions here.

3. Kim Kardashian is a slut. This one bothers me the most, because it reflects such an obvious gender disparity. We call Kim Kardashian a slut for the same reason we call Paris Hilton a slut: they both reached new levels of fame through widely publicized sex tapes. But while jokes about Kim and Paris being whores never seem to cease, we willfully forget all the men who have also had sex on camera. The list includes Rob Lowe, Colin Farrell, Eric Dane, and Tommy Lee. (Pam Anderson gained notoriety from her honeymoon tape. Tommy Lee earned a reputation for being well-endowed.) So, yeah, Kim Kardashian had a sex tape, and she profited from it. Good for her.

There are plenty of other easy jokes to be made. You could say Kim has a big ass, because making fun of the way someone’s body fat is proportioned is always hilarious. You could mock her for being Robert Kardashian’s daughter, even though that’s not exactly something she could have avoided. (Full disclosure: I made a Robert Kardashian joke on Twitter this morning. I stand by it, and don’t believe it targets Kim as an easy punchline.) You could make reference to Kim’s apparent penchant for black men, as though that’s some sort of character flaw. Relax, it’s not racist if everyone else is saying it!

I’m not trying to shame anyone: some of my closest friends, all of whom I consider to be exceptionally funny, make these jokes. And I don’t think less of them for it. I just believe that we should all hold ourselves to a higher standard. If you want to mock a celebrity, fine, as long as you’re being creative. Bonus points if you have a legitimate reason to tear him or her down—that is, something not related to gender, race, or sexuality.

You might, for example, ridicule Chris Brown’s insistence that he loves women in light of his violent beating of Rihanna. (Old news? Sure, but it’s still horrifying.) You could lampoon Katy Perry’s role as an ally in the LGBT community when her first major single “I Kissed a Girl” was a queer politics nightmare. Or maybe you just hate their music and think they’re annoying. Nothing wrong with that either. We’re all entitled to our opinions.

What do I think about Kim Kardashian? I think she’s a mostly obnoxious reflection of a celebrity-obsessed culture that values exposure above all else. I don’t feel sorry for her. I don’t think comedians should stop making jokes about her. But give me something new. I’ve told you why I defend Kim Kardashian—now tell me why you hate her.

Crossposted to Huffington Post Culture here.


20 Responses to “Why I defend Kim Kardashian”

  1. Dragonbettie August 20, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    Well said. Kudos on your original and, in my humble opinion, accurate thoughts.

  2. GR3G0R (@GR3G0R) August 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    It took a lot of pure will and teeth-grinding to get to the end of this post, but when I did, I totally got your point. Any “celebrity” who is famous for doing nothing or for doing something like being the offspring of someone famous/wealthy (which is the definition of non-doing) does not deserve our societal attention. Maybe comedians should start making fun of the people who are fawning over these psuedo-celebrities. That might be the only way to reverse such a vapid trend.

    • Louis Peitzman August 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Not exactly my point, but it’s a valid one. It’s fair to criticize Kim Kardashian for being needlessly famous, as long as we acknowledge that we’re all culpable. Look, I wrote a whole blog post about her. I’m part of the problem!

      • GR3G0R (@GR3G0R) August 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

        I should have been more clear. I wasn’t intending to summarize your position (your blog post is succinct enough as is). Everything after my first sentence should have been separated and essentially started with “In my opinion…”

        But outside of that, I’m not exactly sure I would equate the ability to market ones-self to intelligence. A certain type of intelligence, yes. Savvy. Sure. But on a similar note (and to support the general point you make), I don’t exactly enjoy Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his movies because he makes obscure references to Wallace Stevens. I mean, he looks like he could, but that means jack-squat.

        (I absolutely loved your William Carlos Williams tweet btw)

  3. Miah Saint (@MiahSaint) August 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    A quick response:

    I would argue that the men you listed with sex tapes were legitimate, established artists in their respective fields when their sex tapes broke; their careers were not launched by their genitalia. If you want to see the logical progression of the Kardashian/Hilton fame, look no further than Montana Fishburne.

    I have a huge problem with reality TV in general and how it has lowered the bar for creativity. It doesn’t help that I know so many talented actors and writers – truly gifted comedians – laboring away in obscurity because America can’t get enough of “Real Housewives.” And I confess to treating the Kardashians as figureheads for this sad, sad movement – it’s probably not fair of me, but, oh well.

    Sorry for being such a snobby downer, but that’s where I am today. Maybe I just really miss “Sports Night.”

    • Louis Peitzman August 20, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

      I thought about that, and you’re right. There is no good example of a male celebrity who has gotten famous from a sex tape. I’m still confident that if there were, we wouldn’t call him a whore.

      Of course, Kim’s sex partner Ray J did get a career boost from the tape as well, earning a reality show of his own. So there’s that.

      I understand your issues with reality TV, even though I enjoy plenty of reality programming. It’s definitely frustrating as a writer, but I think it’s unfair to place the blame for a current dearth of creativity solely on reality shows. (Not that you were necessarily doing that.) Either way, making fun of reality stars because they’re reality stars isn’t what I was addressing in this post.

      You’re neither snobby nor a downer. I miss Sports Night, too.

      • Miah Saint (@MiahSaint) August 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

        Of course, you’re right that reality tv is both a cause and a symptom of the shallowening (a word, probably) of the creativity pool, but though you say “making fun of reality stars because they’re reality stars isn’t what I was addressing in this post,” it’s the Christian Louboutin-branded elephant in the room.

        If we decide to discuss her, what else is there to discuss?

  4. Eric M. August 20, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    I think you’ve raised some very good points that everyone who makes these jokes would grudgingly admit, or, in my case, not even grudgingly. The reason I target Kim Kardashian in humor (though not on Twitter) has nothing to do with her as a person. As you’ve said, you need a certain kind of savvy to turn being famous into fame, you can date whomever you want, etc. I target her because she is a symbol of a culture I think deserves a healthy mocking. Some people are actually calling her wedding “The American Royal Wedding.” I mocked the hell out of the Royal Wedding, but even I can see that Kim Kardashian has nowhere near the grace, class, or demeanor of a Kate Middleton. But the greater issue is, Kim Kardashian isn’t just a product of this entitled celebrity culture, she’s a willing participant and in many ways, an intentional spokesperson on its behalf. She hasn’t found herself in this role, she has created this role for herself, and so joking at her expense is joking about everything stupid about celebrity worship in America and the world. My 2 cents. Peace. Out. (p.s., I hope she is blissfully, happily, and for the rest of her life wed to the man of her dreams and they make each other very happy).

  5. Brian Davey (@BrianDavey) August 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    I absolutely agree that people are too hard on Kim Kardashian and she is undeserving of much of the criticism she receives but her status as a joke is her own fault. I don’t understand the hatred towards her. I don’t hate any of the Kardashian clan. I do find most of them incredibly annoying but mainly because they take themselves so seriously. Inability to laugh at yourself is a quality very worthy of hatred. Kim takes the brunt of the Kardashian hatred because she’s the most famous, the prettiest and arguably the silliest. Her entire persona is a monument to pretentiousness. Her gobs of make up, her over dressing in the highest fashion, her earnest attempt at music (a song which in my opinion rivals Rebecca Black’s “Friday”) and her focus on her “career” is all just so silly. It wouldn’t be so funny if she would just acknowledge the joke but she won’t. She combats criticism by taking herself and her status as a celebrity even more seriously. While I agree with you that she isn’t stupid or even that selfish, I don’t think that her skill of marketing herself is that admirable and even may be the biggest reason people hate her. She overexposed herself and her desire to monetize every facet of her life (she’s making millions off a wedding which ideally and traditionally is a private affair) is just so annoying. It’s the celebrity equivalent of a little brother putting a finger an inch from your face and repeatedly saying, “I’m not touching you.” So I get your point, I agree with your points but I understand people being bothered by her. I find it entertaining and laugh at that show for the same reasons I laughed at Borat. I just don’t think they think of themselves that way.

  6. Joe (@BigDroz75) August 20, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    I, for one, have a lot of respect for you for writing this blog. I am sure you are going to get a lot of flack from it, but it is about time someone stood up for this girl. There is a big difference between being funny and being hateful. There is a certain non-reality to Kardashian and these people who are famous for being themselves (a list that is groing fast), and it opens itself up for jokes. But, if a person sitting in Des Moines really allows him/herself to hate this girl that he will never meet, then they are just as ridiculous as unexplainable fame.

    In the end, I think that she is an example of balance in this world. People hate her because other people love her and people live her because other people hate her. This is nothing new (see New Kids on the Block twenty years ago, Bieber and the Jersey Shore cast today).

    My favorite part of this blog is that you pointed out how, for some reason, people act like it is alright to make fun of a girl for dating black guys. That shit annoys me. Good job on this blog!

  7. Ben August 21, 2011 at 7:15 am #

    you seem like a good writer, why waste your time writing such inane bullshit?

  8. Kayleigh August 22, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I know why you defend her. Because someone has to do it and no one wants to, so you did it. I can see why, but it’s useless, which you probably already know. I agree with you on every point. Unfortunat­ely people will always listen to what the media will tell them or in this case show them. I can’t say I like her or that I don’t like her. I haven’t met her. It’s funny to read what people think of her and her family while not even knowing them. I am sure there is all some truth to it, but still I don’t see what the fuss is all about. Even more interestin­g is the fact that people ‘dislike’ her but still seem to follow her every move. From what I read she is in the news a lot, people say they do not care but still they are talking about it day and night.. Unless I am mistaken that seems a little contradict­ing to me..

  9. Noel August 23, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    If she’s just “a mostly obnoxious reflection of a celebrity-obsessed culture that values exposure above all else“ to you, and you don’t feel sorry for her, why does it matter to you how creative or new or original the jokes made about her are?

    • Louis Peitzman August 23, 2011 at 9:04 am #

      You’re right—it doesn’t really “matter.” I’m just asking people to think about the jokes they’re making, to see where the jokes are coming from, and to hopefully find a more original way to lampoon pop culture.

      • Noel August 23, 2011 at 11:45 am #

        Well, I think if she herself gave people more of a reason to stop going after her, they would. But she has chosen to largely ignore the jokes people have made about her, and has even made fun of herself at times. And as you said, she’s rich and she’s famous. Everything has worked out great for her so far. So she herself would probably say “If it ain’t broke….”

  10. nancy poole September 6, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    I was soooo sooo happy when her husband Kris H in Bora Bora told her spoiled heiness that she is way too materialistic! she’s a spoiled brat and I can’t stand her or her mother!!!
    i love kourtney and khloe and bruce; the others are blahhhhhhhhhhh. this marriage WILL NOT LAST!!!! This Humphries guy is way too real and down to earth to put up with all the freaking bullshit of the kardashian snobs!!!!

  11. baby March 17, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    Retarded spoilt bitch … Seen the show a couple of times … What a kunt


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