A Divorce Seems to Resound and the Real Issue Is, Why?

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A Divorce Seems to Resound and the Real Issue Is, Why? Empty A Divorce Seems to Resound and the Real Issue Is, Why?

Post  youxieshi on Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:55 am

All over America this week, parents faced a very modern problem: how to explain the Kim Kardashian divorce to their children.

How could it be otherwise? America’s latest approximation of a royal wedding is still playing on TV, over and over and over again, even though it’s been more than a week since the professional reality TV starlet told the tabloids that she had filed for divorce from Kris Humphries, a basketball player for the New Jersey Nets. Yet the kids come home from school and there it is on the tube, in high definition: America’s fairy-tale wedding.
A Divorce Seems to Resound and the Real Issue Is, Why? Reality-popup
The cognitive dissonance was smothering. For a while this week, it seemed that the Kardashians were all that America was talking about, Greek debt be damned.

Not only has the end of Ms. Kardashian’s 72-day marriage been a headline on the cheap jerseys from china TV morning shows for three days running, it’s also been the subject of ferocious online debates, endless water-cooler chatter and a limerick from the writer Salman Rushdie, published as a series of Twitter messages. It has even become a rallying point for gay marriage activists who ask why brief male-female marriages are not considered damaging to the institution of marriage but gay unions are.

But the question that hovers over all the debates and attention is a simple one: Why do we care? Why does anyone?

Thomas de Zengotita, author of “Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It,” contends that the fascination with Ms. Kardashian and other reality stars is not evidence of the decline of Western culture, as tempting as that thought might be. Instead, he says, cheap nhl jerseysthe growing sophistication of viewers allows them to watch reality television on several different levels.

“Why reality TV shows have gone so far is that, in the broadest possible sense, it is about us,” Mr. de Zengotita said.

First, he said, there is the simple identification with the interactions between Ms. Kardashian; her sisters; their manager/mother, Kris Jenner; and their beleaguered stepfather, Bruce Jenner, who used to be known as America’s greatest decathlete.

That sense was very much in evidence on Thursday at Dash, the miami heat jerseys Manhattan boutique owned by the Kardashian sisters, where there is sometimes a line to get in (but, for the record, no 72-day return policy).

“They remind me of my own family,” said Melissa Porter, 26, of Scherer, Ind., who said she sometimes teased her mother the same way the Kardashian sisters tease their mother.

Before posing for a photo outside Dash, her friend Tyne Pierce, 25, of Clearwater, Fla., had another explanation for the fame of the runaway newlywed, one that some E! executives have privately echoed this week. “You can get wrapped up in wedding hype,” she said, standing next to her husband, who just smiled silently.

There is another level of viewing, Mr. de Zengotita said: envy for the nfl jerseys cheaplives of the rich and famous. Running concurrently with envy is the urge to mock the wealth and spectacle of the Kardashian lives as the sisters move from party to party, product placement to product placement.

(Ms. Kardashian reportedly netted $18 million through the wedding, though the family has said that figure is inflated.)

It was this level that inspired wits like Mr. Rushie to render his take on the wedding mess in limerick:

The marriage of poor kim #kardashian

was krushed like a kar in a krashian

her kris kried, not fair!

why kan’t I keep my share?

But kardashian fell klean outa fashian.

And it prompted the Toronto political writer Andrew Coyne to dust off the Edwardian form the clerihew:

Kim Kardashian

Was a slave to her passion

She married for l’amour

Or perhaps for an hour.

For Ms. Kardashian’s television home, the E! network, the explosion kegogo of interest is further proof of the triumph of reality television, which began as an inexpensive gimmick but has now conquered the airwaves and beyond.

In the United States, celebrity culture has long been carefully manufactured by Hollywood, but now TV fans scan Us Weekly, In Touch and even People magazine for the latest off-the-air exploits of the teen moms, desperate housewives and even more desperate bachelorettes.

On the day of the divorce announcement, St. Martin’s Press shipped 100,000 more copies of the sisters’ best-selling book, “Kardashian Konfidential,” updated with wedding photos.

For magazines and network television, reality stars are the ultimate supply-driven phenomenon: an endless supply of attention-seeking semistars to fill up pages and hours. Best of all, they usually won’t sue.

But one wonders whether Ms. Kardashian violated the basic code of the reality star by so quickly announcing the divorce.

And so the search for meaning began. Has she betrayed her many fans by choosing personal happiness over show business or has she revealed that the marriage itself was just one more ratings gimmick?

With Ms. Kardashian in Australia this week, where she was mobbed by the news media and fans, Ms. Jenner — who is promoting a book of her own — found herself trying to convince Kardashian-watchers that they hadn’t watched a fictional fairy tale.

It “certainly wasn’t a sham,” and “certainly wasn’t for TV,” she said on the “Today” show on Wednesday, on NBC, a sister company of the E! network. “We have enough going on on our show that we don’t have to make things up.”

In three weeks, a new season of one of the family’s shows — “Kourtney & Kim Take New York” — will start on E!, and viewers will see some of the turmoil within the brief marriage — that is, if they haven’t tired of reading about it online and in print first. All the while, the debate will rage on.

“I believe Kim K married for love, or what she thought was love,” wrote one commenter on YouBeMom.com, a message board for parents, in an attempt to be sympathetic. “think she’s just dumb as a brick when it comes to that.”

But another commenter wrote: “Used to kind of enjoy the Kardashian show, fun, guilty pleasure, but now I’m really turned off by how blatantly exploitative and gauche they are. Won’t be watching any more.”
The lesson for reality stars might be this: Fans may love reality as long as it’s not too real.


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