On the 19th of September, at 2:12 AM a tweet was sent out into the world, one that would make every social media and news outlet on the planet lose their mind. The tweet in question was Kylie Jenner’s: ‘Last night I had cereal with milk for the first time. Life changing’. 85,000 likes and 10,000 retweets later the world was baffled, and found itself once again questioning the completely warped and filtered bubble-life the Kardashian family lead and, more worryingly, how, as a society, we are so obsessed with them that stories of their surreal lives find themselves seeping into news sites such as ‘The BBC’ and ‘The Guardian’, no longer exclusive to tabloids and gossip columns.
Whether you like it or not, the Kardashians are always a source of conversation. Ever since their reality TV show ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ was first aired over ten years ago, their fame has consistently kept growing over time and has spiralled into a huge consumerist empire including 15 seasons of the show, countless spinoffs and many cosmetic and fashion businesses. It seems like the world can’t get enough of them, as newspapers eagerly write article after article detailing the shocking controversies and rumours surrounding the family.
The list of said controversies is indeed endless. They have faced the backlash for so many things: whether it’s cultural appropriation or Pepsi adverts, the Kardashians are constantly hounded by the press. Kanye West, though not a true Kardashian is still considered a part of the family and comments have arisen over his concerning friendship with Donald Trump, fuelling his twitter tirades and wearing his famous, bright red ‘Make America Great Again’ cap, as well as making uncomfortable comments about slavery and Taylor Swift. Perhaps most importantly, Kim Kardashian has recently received criticism for advertising appetite suppressant lollypops on her Instagram account and, while she is under no obligation to be selective about the products that she advertises, surely someone with such a large and impressionable audience should have a duty to think about the moral and social implications of her actions?
But being critical of the Kardashians is easy, they live under constant scrutiny from the media and, like every other human in the world, they are bound to make mistakes. The only difference is that the demand that we have created means that everything they do is recorded, documented and commentated on by literally anyone with access to twitter. We can’t ignore the ways they have changed society arguably for the better. The Kardashians are a matriarchal family of supposedly strong, independent women who have managed to build up an empire of cosmetics all on their own and singlehandedly changed the fashion industry forever. Caitlyn Jenner’s recent transition has educated many people about the transgender community and shown how deeply family values run. For the Kardashians, family comes first, always, whether that’s supporting Caitlyn through her transition and her new life or during the scandals and controversies the family faces on a very regular basis. However, is this family image of unity and support something that’s genuine or has it been hyped up for the camera?
Because, at the end of the day, that’s the big question mark looming over the Kardashians: how much of it is genuine? They’ve spent all their life living on the tv screens of most Americans, and it’s common knowledge that reality shows are always over exaggerated, hyped up and dramatised, specifically designed for the audience who’s going to watch it. So how much is authentic? How much is a publicity stunt, carefully fabricated to increase their fame and sales? Despite all the scandals and controversies the family has faced, they still come out on the other side as famous and as wealthy as ever. After having spent over ten years appearing in the media spotlight, the family has become the face of millennial Americans, the unelected representatives of the new, mass-consumer culture we live in.
On the surface, they appear to be harmless, just entertainment, comic relief. It is trendy not to take them seriously, to laugh at them and all the seemingly stupid things they say and do. However, dig a little deeper and they pose a potential threat to our generation. They take advantage of the impressionable audience they have and promote the wrong ideas and, although there is nothing wrong with advertising (it’s the way they make their money and it is a vital element in the society we live in) I think the Kardashians should really stop for a moment and evaluate how much influence they have over society: they have a huge platform and they cater for a largely young and impressionable audience. Surely they have some kind of responsibility and should understand the moral implications of advertising certain products such as appetite suppressant lollypops? By doing that, or saying controversial things, they risk promoting ideals that aren’t healthy or beneficial to anyone, purely for economic benefit. I think it is important for people who are as famous as the Kardashian family to realise how much of an impact they’re having on society and the dangers of being impulsive, and they should therefore make decisions being aware of the consequences their actions will have.
Sofia C, Year 12