Sunday 24 June 2012

The decline of Western Civilization: Is Kim Kardashian really to blame?

In today's Sunday Times News Review section, their main feature was on US reality tv star Kim Kardashian.

The article came out in support of the Mail Online's favourite celebrity following heavy criticism of the star by a head teacher of girls boarding school.

At a speech last week, Dr Helen Wright, headmistress of St Mary’s Calne, in Wiltshire, said:

“The descent of Western civilisation can practically be read into every curve (of which, you will note, there are indeed many). Officially the hottest woman in the world? Really? Is this what we want our young people to aim for? Is this what success should mean to them?”

I hardly think history books in 500 years time will be devoting chapters on how Kim's curves contributed to the decline of the West during the first part of the 21st Century.

In making reference to arguably the biggest reality tv star in the world, Wright has attracted the attention she was looking for in her speech. But is there really any point in attacking those people who have made their names through celebrity culture?

I understand the argument that too many people are obsessed with celebrity culture, and that the sexualisation of women in society means many girls aspire to be physically attractive as an end in itself; but is that the fault of celebrities like Kim?

If Kim Kardashian didn't exist we'd have someone else in her place. This tells me there must be a market that already exists that allows people to become celebrities in the first place.

Wouldn't it be better to focus on the culture and attitudes that exists in society that allows people to exploit the demand for celebrity.

You could argue that the Kardashians are actually positive role models in a business sense.

They've turned themselves into a hugely profitable brand and exploited a market that is obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous.

I admit I watch a lot of reality tv rubbish. I can waste hours of my life watching the likes of the Kardahians on E Entertainment. In saying this, I justify it all by reminding myself that I do watch Question time and Newsnight. This evens things out!

The Kardashians are you're classic reality tv stars. I remember my mom saying to me once 'You've never heard of the Kardashians?' I was like 'no who are they? What are they famous for.'

Of course they're not famous for anything really. Kim, her two sisters and brother are the children of Robert Kardashian, one of the defence lawyers in OJ Simpson’s 1995 murder trial.

Kim became famous in her own right after appearing in a sex tape with the rapper Ray J before she and the rest of the family became household names through their reality tv show Keeping up with the Kardashians.

With reality tv, you have the chicken and egg syndrome of which comes first. Is our interest in celebrity culture down to the fact that it's forced upon us by the media? Or is it a case of the media only responding to the public's demand for celebrity gossip and lifestyles.

If reality tv didn't exist I don't think I'd be demanding to watch that sort of thing, but if you're going to make this sort of thing available then yes I am going to watch it.

The real issue though is that the media wouldn't focus on celebrity culture if it didn't make money. It's a profitable business model for sections of tv and publishing industry. Perhaps this is the area we need to focus on more rather than those who make the fame from celebrity culture.

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