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Hanna Flint

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Are The Kardashians The Modern Day Bennets?

Posted: 10/10/2012 8:00 pm

I can hear you snigger, and yes even I find it difficult to put Kardashian in the same sentence as one of literature's greatest familial creations. But when part of my job is to document the activities of Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kendall and Kylie I can't help but see the similarities between the Ks and the Bs.

And I don't just mean that there are five sisters in each clan.

Last week some pictures of Kylie Jenner landed on my desk and I was asked to write a fashion story on the outfit she wore to a Justin Bieber concert. The just turned 15-year old was wearing skin-tight red leather trousers a (lacy) bra-exposing black vest and stilettos.

I certainly didn't see outfits like that in the Tammy girl window when I was 15.

The reality family's youngest member has been rocking a number of these age-inappropriate outfits, with the news angle suggesting she's emulating her older sister Kim. But when I look at Kylie dressed up as a woman twice her age, I can't help but see Lydia Bennet.

The youngest of the Bennet sisters, she constantly tries to compete with her elder siblings through the fashionable items she covets and the attention of men she seeks. And what was Polite Society of those times if not the reality show of ours, with men and women constantly under the spotlight, being scrutinised for every fashion choice, every comment and every relationship for the ultimate prize of social status.

Societal breeding has been usurped by celebrity as the social currency of today, and with the Kardashians domination of reality TV their shares are unworthily high. So it's not surprising that the young Kylie and Kendall - daughters of Kris Jenner's second husband Bruce - wanted to join Team K and reap the materialistic rewards that come with exposing your personal life to public scrutiny.

And with this, I think back to Austen and Lizzy Bennet's retort to Lady Catherine De Burgh who finds it 'very odd' that all five sisters are out in society at once:

'But really, Ma'am, I think it would be very hard upon younger sisters, that they should not have their share of society and amusement because the elder may not have the means or inclination to marry early. The last born has as good a right to the pleasures of youth, as the first. And to be kept back on such a motive! I think it would not be very likely to promote sisterly affection or delicacy of mind.'

Ok, maybe the elder sisters have more than a few marriages under their belt, but the sentiment is the same. However, in today's world of Twitpics and Paparazzi there are more opportunities for our younger siblings to expose themselves than in pre-technological revolution England.

For me, one of the most striking similarities is between the matriarchs of the factual and fictional families.

Mrs Bennet is an overbearing, over-sharing social climber of a mother, hell bent on getting her daughters married off to the most eligible bachelor.

Swap the arranged marriages for superficial business deals and public appearances and you've pretty much summed up Kris Jenner to a tee. Not to mention her husband Bruce acting just as passively as Mrs Bennet's other half.

And Rob - I'm sorry - that makes you Mr Collins, who is 'not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society.'

Not a bad shout then.

But when Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice nearly 200 years ago, she wasn't praising the pursuit of social elevation and wealth but actually attacking it, as well as ineffectual parents failing to guide their children onto the right path.

And if memory serves (it should - I've ready the novel several times) young Lydia ignorantly falls into a slapdash marriage that will lead to her eventual unhappiness, no thanks to her complacent mother and father.

Kim has already suffered two failed marriages and a sex tape scandal and Kourtney has struggled with her partner Scott's wandering eye.

So the way Kylie's going there's not much stopping her from following in he sisters' footsteps.

Therefore maybe it's not too much of a stretch to consider the Kardashian clan as the modern day Bennet family, but for the sake of the youngest members let's hope it's not too late to rewrite their story.

 

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