It was a day like any normal day. Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. OK, no comb, but I went upstairs and drank a cup, then made my straggle-haired way to the front lawn to pick up the paper (yep, still with the paper). As I stooped down and took a quick glance at the day's headline, I was literally stopped in my fuzzy-slippered tracks (I don't have fuzzy slippers... I just said that), stunned by what was staring back at me. Splayed across the entire length and width of the front page of the venerable Los Angeles Times, in all their voluptuous, raven-haired, leopard-skinned glory, were Kourtney, Khloe and Kim Kardashian, the triple-headed Kunning Konglomerate of Kultural Kool.
What had they done?!
Something, at last? Something marvelous? Horrible? Essential and/or noteworthy? Had they invented something, written a brilliant piece of literature, funded a foundation; produced a cutting edge work of art? What had warranted such a splash of high-profile attention?
They were appearing at a Sears store somewhere in LA.
In that moment I knew, without a quiver of equivocation, I was not keeping up with the Kardashians.
Though I quickly realized this spread was just a very expensive ad, the fact that front page coverage in a major city newspaper had actually seemed feasible for a second made it clear these girls had smashed the celebrity ceiling in a big way. Which is astonishing, because there doesn't seem to be any discernible reason why, other than Kim has a great ass, Khloe married a famous tall guy who plays basketball, their late father helped OJ get away with -- uh, achieve acquittal; their mom married the inexplicable-looking Bruce Jenner and they've all been party (quite literally) to the living, breathing TMI (Too Much Information) that is their show Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which we've clearly established I am not.
This is all it takes??
Fame is a slut these days. Used to be you had to DO something to get her to put out: write a book, invent a vaccine, win an Oscar; accomplish something, anything, even something marginal. I mean, pop stars aren't exactly curing cancer but at least they get up and sing and play an instrument! Fame these days is all torn fishnets and smeared lipstick, a whorish version of her former self, lifting her skirt with no purpose, predictability, or criterion. Just throw a little reality show on the dresser and she's good to go.
Blame it on our uber-digital, oversaturated media world, which has forced Fame's denigrating devolution in the last decade or so. There are probably some who would argue that there's never been anything natural or admirable about Fame but there was, at one time, at least the consensus that her presence in a room required verifiable accomplishment.
Nowadays? You just have to be Hot (the K Girls), Stupid (any of the Jackass bunch), Narcissistically Competitive (almost all competitive reality shows, i.e., Survivor, Big Brother), Psychotically Delusional (any of Housewife franchises; in fact, any show with "wives" in the title at all); Just Plain Delusional (the rest of the competitive reality shows), Aggrandized (all bloviating political talk shows), or Generically Fame Hungry (any show on TV that isn't a sitcom or drama and requires a camera in the home).
In all these, the common denominator is the willingness, eagerness, or desperation to eschew all pretense of privacy, discretion, decorum, and personal space to expose mind, body and soul in any and all ways possible (the sleazier, more embarrassing or self-immolating, the better!). TMI TV. We're lapping it up. And Fame is giving it away for free.
I have no doubt the K Girls are lovely, personable, and hard-working... at this point they have to be to prove they're not just empty-headed Empresses prancing around with no clothes. Of course, in their case that'd just bring out TMZ, Billy Bush and a line out the door for the "K Girls Nude!" tape that would surely follow, so what, really, does it matter?
But as I settled down with my cup of coffee to read the stories of the day and follow the accomplishments of some out there working their asses off rather than just putting them on display, I actually felt just a little sorry for the K Girls. When your entire brand is built on the temporary, fleeting, and inevitably obsolete currency of youthful physical beauty, sexual allure, and cultural status, the word "ephemeral" comes to mind. It's like watching someone build a house on a glacier even while the slow but inexorable slide toward the abyss changes the foundation. Hang on, girls; enjoy it while you can and be sure to get warm clothes!
But until they disappear, I wish them well. I hope the Sears gig was a smash and people bought lots of perfume and a good selection of wrenches which you can never have enough of. And just to show I'm not a cynic, I'm going to give those girls the benefit of the doubt and hope they collectively pull some kind of noble rabbit out of their designer hats to do something meaningful while Fame -- in all her stumbling, slurring glory -- is still on their payroll.
Me? I'm going to do a better job of keeping up. Seems the least I can do when they're working so damn hard to get my attention.