i’m deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeply immersed in kardashian world at present, writing a paper on KK’s social media abstention in the wake of the paris assault.
people, i am committed.
and, i believe, going way above and beyond.
the paper is very nearly there (though, still, it contains more words than ideas but ah well…) and so today i embarked upon the quest for powerpoint pics and et voilà! i saw something strange…
no, it was not this:
though that was pretty strange and, as far as tabloid headlines go, points for originality there.
no, what i noticed was this:
were i a psychoanalyst (spoiler alert: i am not), i might suggest this points to a cultural desire for dumping: to see kardashian dumped, to rid ourselves of the whole kardashian empire and what they represent.
i like them and- having now actually consumed a significant chunk of their television programming- i do not think they represent the apocalypse, though the notion that they do has been so regularly stated that it’s probably an image they will now never escape.
but what is happening here with this dumping? did you know this was a word so regularly applied to KK? in much the same way that jennifer aniston is “sad and lonely” and george clooney was a perennial bachelor. so KK is DUMPED.
i mean, this is by no means the only narrative…
and it is typical of celebrity mag reporting- basically from the beginning of time (ie. the 1960s) onwards- that the female protagonists are dumped and humiliated.
the ebb and flow of tabloid stories is that people HAVE to get together and then, once they do, they HAVE to fall apart.
thinking about this led to my pulling down off the shelf my academic crush wayne koestenbaum’s book on humiliation.
I haven’t eliminated Humiliation as teaching tool, flash card, and rallying cry. History hangs together in baffling clusters, like swollen grapes, but without beauty, and without the possibility of offering nourishment; the clusters may add up to nothing but a command to remain curious about the chance circumstances that led the awful episodes to fall together into one moment in time, one moment of remembrance or speculation.
–Humiliation, p. 138
Language hurts. Language humiliates. And not just when it’s ungrammatical or unsanctioned. Language, as a system of displacements, substitutions, links, finessings, and crosswirings, fucks someone over. Someone is always being screwed by language.
so often, i think, what celebrities reveal is how little control we any of us have over what happens to us.
clearly they have no control over the words applied to them on tabloid covers.
but, more broadly, things happen, which are beyond our control and which, as a result, may be humiliating. because we flatter ourselves we have control when, in reality, we maybe have very little. even a family such as this one, which is widely perceived as calculated to a machiavellian degree, cannot control what happens to them.
because shit happens.
and the shit that happens, in turn, is folded into the tabloid narrative.
the first time i felt i connected with a celebrity story on a new level was in 2005.
when, two days after i was dumped, an issue of InTouch on jessica simpson’s break-up landed in my mailbox and the advice of a “medical expert who has never treated her but is familiar with her case” resonated deeply.
this is not a story i tell with pride but it is 100% true.
it also conveniently supports my point.
these stories matter because we (well, some of us) use them, actively, in our lives. they can actually be helpful. reading about jessica simpson’s break-up helped me feel less alone in my own.
however, the way these stories are told matters. it reenforces certain pre-existing narratives, many of them NOT. AWESOME.
and i’m not sure what my point here is… that we need feminist gossip, maybe?? because gossip ain’t gonna go away. might there be a more thoughtful approach?
that feels like maybe the dumbest thing i have ever written here but i’mma leave it because who knows. maybe it isn’t?