Nonfiction

In Defense of The Kardashians

25 February 2016

How the Kardashians are pioneering an evolution in entertainment.

There was once a time when going to theatre to watch a naturalistic play was new and different in comparison to established entertainment styles. Now naturalism and realism have become the most normal and mainstream forms of entertainment. But there is a new phenomenon that has swept the world; reality TV.

It’s a genre that is similar to naturalism, but goes even further by taking out the performance aspect and showing the everyday lives of real people. And what’s more natural and real than the Kardashian family unashamedly airing out all their dirty laundry for the world to see?

The Kardashian family is at the forefront of the reality TV phenomenon, having risen to fame through their reality show Keeping up with the Kardashians. Despite what seems like a natural progression of the entertainment industry, many people still dismiss the Kardashians as being talentless, fame-hungry socialites. This could be because reality TV doesn’t require people to develop a specific craft or perhaps it’s because people are simply clinging on to more familiar forms of entertainment.

Either way, the Kardashians wouldn’t be where they are today if they weren’t the smart business-minded people that they are. They’re some of the most important players in the entertainment industry today, and I’m here to tell you why.

The Kardashian Empire

The Kardashian family have created an empire out of their name. Maybe Kim’s sex tape had a little bit to do with how that name was heard, but since creating a reality show, several clothing lines, stores, apps, books and magazine covers these women have effectively become household names.

Before she was famous, Kim Kardashian actually ran a successful eBay business where she would sell her old clothes as well as buy new items and sell these for a profit. She then began to clean out the closets of her celebrity friends and take a share of the profit. Similarly, Kourtney entered the fashion industry with her mother after her father died. This was soon followed by the opening of D.A.S.H with Kim and Khloe.

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It’s clear that from a young age that they have been interested in the fashion and entertainment industry, and did everything they could to become successful. They’ve worked for everything they have, but people assume they haven’t because the general public has only seen them at the height of their fame. It’s like any other business, once it gets its big break it’s associated with that level of success from then on, and the work leading up to this success is forgotten. It’s a lesson to everyone that if you work hard enough as an entrepreneur and seize the right opportunity you can achieve success.

It should also be noted that the Kardashians would have faded into obscurity after Kim’s sex tape scandal had it not been for Kris Jenner teaming up with Ryan Seacrest to create Keeping up with the Kardashians, in what was probably the best business decision she ever made.

I think people’s judgment of the Kardashians is often clouded by the assumption that they are just “famous for being famous”. But they ultimately started out by working in the fashion industry, and have capitalised on their newfound fame and a movement towards reality TV in entertainment, which has lead to their enormous success as some of the most recognisable faces in pop culture today.

Reality TV = Documentary.

Reality television is almost always received with a level of disdain or mockery. But shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians are not the kind of trashy TV we think they are, but are in fact important landmarks in the evolution of entertainment.

I’m a big fan of documentaries, and one of the reasons I find them so interesting is because they show us new information about things we’re fascinated by. With rumours about the Kardashians constantly in the media, their reality show often delivers exclusive answers to highly speculated questions.

Documentaries often focus on a person or topic that the general public has shown interest in, and provide viewers with new unearthed information about the topic. Because of the Kardashian’s massive presence in the world of pop culture, these are events that many people are intrigued by. Amy is a recent documentary that follows the life and death of Amy Winehouse, and is the highest grossing British documentary of all time. It follows a similar idea of providing new information about a much-loved celebrity.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians address rumours that Khloe is possibly not Robert Kardashian’s daughter as well as dedicating two episodes to Bruce’s transition into a woman. The show also offers exclusive footage documenting the difficulties of Kim’s highly publicised pregnancy with North West.

When rumours circulate, the Kardashians usually address it exclusively on their show. Just like any good documentary, they give people an insider look into the truth behind the rumours and speculation that constantly surround their famous family. The general public sees documentaries as being legitimate and worthwhile forms of entertainment though, whilst reality TV is not. However the similarities between the two genres are undeniable, which I believe represents the value that can be found in reality TV.

The Kardashian’s ability to control their image through their TV show is also powerful as they have control over what people believe about them, allowing for an exploration of topics that are often taboo in mainstream media, which leads me to my next point.

Talking the Taboo:

The Kardashians touch on a number of important issues through their show, like Scott’s battle with alcoholism. There was this frightening moment at the end of the trailer for Kourtney and Khloe take Miami that shows the darker side of the Kardashians’ lives, and gives an important insight into alcoholism and its effects.

Caitlyn Jenner’s life as a transgender woman is undeniably one of the most important things the show has documented. When the former Olympic athlete stated that she was indeed a woman, after much media speculation, she became a beacon of hope for the transgender community. Regardless of your opinion on Caitlyn and the Kardashian/Jenner family it’s undeniable that having such a high profile transgender woman on a reality TV show, not a scripted TV show, is extremely significant in normalizing and supporting the transgender community.

What’s more significant is the fact that because of Keeping up with the Kardashians, viewers felt like they really knew Bruce. They got to know him as a man on the show, but now they are learning all about Caitlyn and her journey as a woman. Everyone is being given the opportunity to learn about the idea of being transgender, which I think is pretty groundbreaking.

We’re also given an insight into the way all of the Kardashian and Jenner children react to the news of Caitlyn’s transition into a woman.

In the ‘About Bruce’ special Kendall heartbreakingly says “I just don’t like it when people say Bruce is going to be gone” regarding the news of her Dad’s transition.

Khloe is also very vocal that she doesn’t like the way Caitlyn went about her transition. She is upset with her about the famous Vanity Fair article in which Caitlyn has some controversial words about the life she and Kris Jenner built together, and she is concerned for Kendall and Kylie.

Neither of the two are ever critical of Caitlyn’s choice to transition into a woman, but I think showing how individual members of a real family react and deal with this is an important step that the show takes. It shows people that even if you don’t understand it or feel like you might be loosing someone, this entire family is able to learn about and accept Bruce’s transition into Caitlyn by going through their own journey of acceptance.

Keeping up with the Kardashians continues to feature Caitlyn as well. This is important because it shows the normalcy, or as normal as it can be in this family, of the life she’s living as a transgender woman. The show continues to engage audiences by showing that after her transition Caitlyn is just Caitlyn, living her life as usual, and showing people everywhere that being a transgender person is not that strange at all.

It’s just goddamn entertaining!

Keeping up with the Kardashians gives us a glimpse into the lives of a family that is so different, yet similar in some ways, to our own. A lifestyle where Scott can become a legitimate Lord,

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where Kim experiences the ultimate travesty of loosing a diamond earing

and where taking selfies whilst driving your sister to jail is the norm.

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And who can forget the time that Rob accidentally took the Viagra that his mother Kris had planted for her husband, and had to be rushed to hospital because of a painful erection. If that’s not an entertaining quality storyline, I don’t know what is.

Roll your eyes all you want, but sit down for an hour and watch an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians and I think your opinion might change.

Okay sure, so maybe it’s not the hard-hitting story you get when you watch Game of Thrones or House of Cards, but if you are entertained then surely that means the show you are watching is good.  Sometimes entertainment is just supposed to make you laugh.

Despite being constantly hated on by critics, Keeping up with the Kardashians draws in approximately 3 million viewers every episode. The finale episode of season four is the most highly viewed episode, with 4.8 million viewers having tuned in to watch it!

TV doesn’t have to be dramatic and intense to be entertaining. Sometimes all people want is to sit down after a long day and watch the Kardashian family partake in crazy antics. Different genres of entertainment all have their time and place, and Keeping up with the Kardashians is no different.


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