Kim Kardashian: The ultimate influencer of a tacky and tawdry culture of sex tapes, plastic surgery, nude selfies and shameless self promotion where everything is for sale? Or a cultural icon who has reshaped perceptions of body shape and beauty while freeing women to express their sexuality on social media and beyond?
You could say, she is all of the above, a digital age phenomenon with massive power and global reach who this week picked up the inaugural Influencer Award at the Council of Fashion Designers of America saying, ‘I am kind of shocked that I am winning a fashion award when I am naked most of the time…’ Indeed there is no part of Kim we haven’t seen, try as we might to look the other way. There is no point.
She is omnipotent. Her influence is everywhere from eyebrows to belfies to our taste for graceless shows like Love Island.
She is living her dream, to be mega famous for no discerning talent apart from her self obsession. It’s a business model that works.
The Kim Kardashian School of Commerce has spawned many graduates.
Cosmetically enhanced flesh, contouring and showboating are the tools of the trade. Her followers do not care what she’s reading, if her captions are misspelt or if she has any opinions on world affairs. This is not about how her mind works, it’s the ultimate Shallow Hal territory. It’s all about the exterior, the posterior, the anterior. The visual is all that matters. The more pornographic, the more likes.
No wonder Donald Trump looked so thrilled to have the pneumatic reality TV star behind his desk at The Oval Office last week in yet another bizarre twist to his presidency. The New York Post had a field day with their front cover:
‘Kim Thong Un pitches prez on prison reform…TRUMP MEETS RUMP’.
Again the visual overshadowed the purpose of the visit which was to seek clemency for 63 year old Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence, without parole, for a first time, non-violent drug offence. Days later, President Trump called Kim on her mobile phone, mid photo shoot to tell her personally he’d granted the pardon.
Donald Trump understands the power of reality TV and social media more than most. Instead of highlighting President Trump’s worrying dictatorial grip on the US, the Kardashian-West connection has only served to boost his popularity rating among African Americans.
If we are to take anything from the visit, it’s that Kim is capable of doing more with her influence than selling fake tan and contouring kits.
So far her most memorable quotes include: ‘Naked selfies until I die’ and “I rented my mom a monkey for the week because she had a syndrome where she missed children in the house.” Maybe Kim is getting bored of being so boring, even if it’s popular. Wouldn’t that be something? Kim K standing up for immigrant rights in the US, getting stuck in on the fashion industry’s grotesque environmental record and workers’ rights or lobbying big name designers to stop using animal furs. Go on Kim. We know there’s more to you than being a total sell out. The filter down effect might actually make you an influencer of true value.