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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
In his essay, ‘Television and Fiction’, David Foster Wallace ponders on the illusions created when we participate in watching TV. One illusion, he states, ‘is that we’re voyeurs… at all: What we see is far from stolen; it’s proffered – illusion.’ This notion, of the construction of an image to sate an illusory voyeuristic appetite, is the foundation of Kim Kardashian’s fame, from its conception to its dizzying existing condition.
When originally writing on this point, I was keen to demonstrate the discrepancy between Kardashian’s sex tape and her reality TV show, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, to focus on their asymmetries: on one hand you have someone watching her tape genuinely being an act of voyeurism – an intrusion of privacy during a sex act seemingly not intended for our consumption – and on the other you have the constructed fly-on-the-wall method of her TV show. But after watching her tape (which, incidentally, I would not recommend doing in the library) you begin to realise the parallels between the two. The dialogue is riddled with porn clichés, and Kardashian refers to her then-boyfriend, whose real name is William Raymond Norwood, throughout the video by his stage name, ‘Ray J’. Couple this with reports of Kardashian being desperate for fame at the time of the tape’s release and it begins to shape into something that is less an authentic invasion of intimacy, and more a contrivance intended to be commodified and used as a fulcrum for celebrity stardom.
Perhaps unknowingly, Kardashian’s reality TV show would follow a similar pattern. In 2016, she got held at gunpoint whilst her jewellery was stolen. It was a moment in which her seemingly ultrahuman qualities that had accumulated in her newfound fame dissipated and suddenly she was someone’s mother, someone’s wife, and someone’s daughter in a horrible situation. And then came the advert for ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashian’s’ in which, rather ironically, they tempt their audience with Kim ‘baring all’. Like her sex tape, it’s a moment that probably shouldn’t have an audience – and that’s its allure. As Joshua Gamson states, ‘celebrity culture is at once a commodity system, an industry, a set of stories.’ Knowing that this ‘baring all’ is being given to us by a team behind a camera forces us to question its authenticity. Like the people in Jersey Shore, Kim has become merely an inauthentic character of herself. Perhaps most poignantly it signifies that in today’s celebrity culture, amidst tragedies such as this, there is a producer somewhere rubbing his hands.
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