Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kim Kardashian or how to break the internet

Kim Kardashian, a celebrity that is famous for something, but nobody really knows what it is, decided to break the internet with her naked pictures and an appropriate hashtag. Some were outraged, I just rolled my eyes. She then received plenty of ridicule for the move and her photos were transformed into what seems like an  infinite number of memes (another overused word). I haven't seen such an out-pour of creative use of Photoshop online since Miley Cyrus was twerking on the MTV stage. Others were in turn outraged st the outrage saying that poking fun at Kardashian is anything from sexism, misogyny to a violation of the First Amendment (and "freedom of speech"  is the most overused and misunderstood legal term- yet a lot of people like to throw it in, relevant or not). Kardashian was then compared to some male musicians being shirtless, most notably Nick Jonas who don't appear to get that much backlash. And to clarify- I'm not a fan of neither. But it's obvious to me that somebody who is a musician, an actor, has some body of work whether I enjoy it or not, some other claim to fame besides being notoriously naked is allowed to even do something classless from time to time, because he or she has something else to fall back on. Ms Kardashian career, my friends tell me, stems from a sex tape that as some rumors have it her mother  may have or haven't been instrumental in production and distribution of.  Her body, her looks, her image being her main commodity. And there's nothing really wrong with that- although if you ask me I like my celebrities to have at ounce of a talent, interests and something to say. Antics are fine as long as they are in addition to something not the main focus. I hear the word "classless" tossed around in the Kardashian/Jonas comparison and while I think class is in the eye of the beholder, I think context is crucial here. Is the image artistic? Does it serve any other purpose but say "Look at me, I'm naked"? I have to say I do feel a bit odd seeing Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton in the same space and generating the same kind of interest as my beloved actors and musicians.  (But then I would like to see people cherished for their intellect and spirit and the content of their character). Although I do hear that Ms /Hilton is now a DJ and has a career to focus on. Make no mistake- it's Kim Kardashian who built a name for herself on her looks and body and she's very smart maintaining the interest. She took a gamble marketing herself in a certain way and for the most part it has paid off. The backlash is a natural outcome of what you put out there, especially if you intend to push buttons and provoke. Yes, there are historically different stereotypes associated with male and female nudity in popular culture. Many male musicians take their shirts off to perpetuate the image of a "badass rocker" while some female artist have deliberately used sexuality to both stir up controversy and make people think. While some of Madonna's material may have been explicit as she literally took her clothes off for "Erotica" and the "Sex" book she had a purpose, a message and an agenda behind it, and she talked about it extensively. She wanted to bring attention to the perception of women that can be either smart and creative or sensual and sexual but never both. She did it in addition to her popularity in music. She didn't need to make a name for herself and if anything, she hurt her sales with her antics. At the same time, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Steven Tyler perform shirtless all the time but it's not intended to have a sexual context or arouse anybody. If anything the male equivalent of the female nude breasts in media is full frontal nudity. And you don't see that, not from Nick Jonas, not from Adam Levine.

Some people are concerned that Kardashian is a mother. While I'd certainly be in shock having discovered my mother posed for Playboy, it's silly to assume that celebrity kids are raised like the rest of us. That they are not brought up to be smart about the media and manipulate popular culture in an effortless way. If the celebrities have their own way of life, what they value, how they act and what they pursue, why should we assume that it tones down when they become parents? And maybe, just maybe the kids are better off having the skillset more fitted for their world.

As soon as you start criticizing this actor or that starlet you hear about their "Freedom of speech". What people don't understand is that the First Amendment is sole about the government, what it can and cannot regulate or simply can they shut you up. It doesn't mean that you have the absolute right to say everything everywhere and even if you can- that you should. It doesn't mean that you're immune to criticism, that people have to listen to you and if they do that they must agree. And I'm a big supporter of the idea of sometimes keeping my mouth shot before I say something I cannot take back and will regret.

Kim Kardashian is interesting to me from one aspect- because my initial reaction was that she was back to her old tricks- I want to see what happens when she gets older. Will she still be pushing her brand of sexuality on us when Photoshop can no longer help her. Madonna said that when she ages she'll just use her mind. I'm curious to see if Kim Kardashian will do something entirely different, use her mind or maybe she'll open a very important debate on the perception of aging and human sexuality. For that I hope she can push the envelope where many others before her gave up.

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