Monday 24 October 2016

Comment: Kim Kardashian is playing the fame game better than anybody else right now - and that stirs up hatred

Lorraine Courtney

Published 04/10/2016 | 02:30

Kim Kardashian has been held up at gunpoint in a Paris hotel room by masked men dressed as police officers
Kim Kardashian has been held up at gunpoint in a Paris hotel room by masked men dressed as police officers

Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint this week. French media reports said the robbers, who were dressed up as police officers, found her in the bathroom of the luxury residence at which she was staying. They're reported to have tied her up before fleeing with an estimated €10m worth of jewellery. The online world buzzed with reactions to the gunpoint attack.

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The initial reactions ranged from the tacky: "Kim Kardashian robbed at gunpoint in Paris... Finally, some good news on a Monday," to the mean: "It makes me sad that Kim K being robbed is breaking news."

To those of you asking why this story is newsworthy, this is possibly the most famous woman in the world being held at gunpoint. You must be in denial about your reality if you're questioning this because as a news item it's definitely up there with, say, 11 men kicking a leather ball around a field.

While the internet has so many positives, it also has apparently desensitised some people to the humanity behind stories published online. It also gives bullies and trolls a platform to hate on. Like so many celebrity issues of our time, hating on Kim K is one part smart, nuanced cultural commentary, and two parts sick, shameful internet trolls perpetuating the war on women from their parents' garage.

Kim Kardashian is an easy target for anybody wanting to make a lazy point about the "celebrity culture" we've been immersed in, in one form or another, for years. And while she didn't invent the idea of being "famous for being famous", she's very, very good at it. She is playing the fame game better than anybody else right now - and that stirs up hatred, like the time that 'Vogue' put her on its cover and the whole world sighed. But the latest incarnation of Kardashian-bashing is a bit more unexpected - she's in trouble for being robbed and this becoming an international news story.

There's something more going on here, too. You see, Kim K gives us an outlet for our hatred of women. Kim K goes against what we expect of women in our world. She's a wife and a mother, but she's also brash and unashamed and gloriously trashy. She's sexual and provocative, and she knows it. We still live in world where in order to be taken seriously women must hide their sexuality underneath baggy clothes.

Ultimately, Kim K does have a job, which I imagine is really hard. She is a professional bullseye, absorbing the misogynistic hatred of millions. Kim K is a woman whom we can degrade sexually but don't have to feel bad about it because based on the fact that she takes her clothes off, she must be talentless and mustn't have an inner life or feelings.

The playing field for famous women is so uneven that it's crazy. Female celebrities are criticised so much more severely for small, silly things. It's the same story whether you're a reality television star, or any woman who dares to live publicly. Back in a 2013 'Star' magazine poll, Gwyneth Paltrow topped America's list of the most-hated celebrities, a survey where two-thirds of the entries were women.

The widespread misogyny that fuels Kardashian-hate isn't limited to celebrities. It's why Hillary Clinton isn't considered likeable while Donald Trump can demand we build walls and call women pigs and still get a thundering round of applause. Despite the fact she has committed the cardinal sin of being successful and sexy, it's about time we showed Kim K some compassion and turned our critical gaze inwards instead.

We all know how hard it is to be a famous woman. If you're not getting paid a whole lot less than your male co-star, then you're being defined by your love life or being fat-shamed for daring to show off a tummy roll on the beach. Female stars seem to get a majority of public criticism and scrutiny.

If you're a successful woman in the public eye who doesn't want to constantly self-deprecate or trip down the stairs (I'm looking at you, Jennifer Lawrence), then the internet won't hesitate to give you that extra push.

Thankfully, there has also been a good deal of pushback against online bullies about the incident, and social media is also full of fans expressing their support for Kim K and her family. We need this because such hatred punishes those who don't fit whatever impossible standards we've set for women today, and it encourages other women to stay silent or to just disappear.

Irish Independent

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