Wednesday 25 April 2018

Millennial notebook

Cardi B
Cardi B

Ciara O'Connor

Poor, poor Khloe Kardashian, said the internet last week. And it was serious. The world was shaken and saddened by the news that Khloe's boyfriend had apparently cheated on her, just days before she was due to give birth to their first child.

Now, I'm not a robot. Of course the idea of anyone being cheated on while about to pop is the kind of thing that makes me really, genuinely, hate all men, ever. But as I saw the phrase 'she's been through enough' come up over and over again in what can only be described as an outpouring of grief, I confess I was baffled.

Can this woman, born with the shiniest of silver spoons in her mouth, with more money, swimming pools and hair extensions than she knows what to do with, be really said to have 'gone through enough'?

Can I really and truly bring myself to feel sorrow and empathy for a Kardashian?

Apparently I was coming at it the wrong way. You see, according to ordinarily right-thinking, nice, normal millennials who happen to be Kardashian fans, Khloe is different. She was always the unfortunate sister - heavier and taller than her Tinkerbellish sisters, Kim and Kourtney. Always very maternal, she watched her sisters produce children whom she doted on, while in an insipid and ultimately doomed marriage with a drug addict. Then came the 'glo-up', when she got super fit and gorgeous, her focus on strength and muscle building endearing her to fans who were sick of the surgeon's knife.

In short, she was the people's Kardashian. The cheating scandal revealed a bizarre but touching tenderness that the world has for Khloe.

It was a story in which women generally came off really quite well. His ex, who was pregnant when he starting going out with Khloe, refused to be drawn in to talk of karma and preached peace.

Another woman released texts apparently from Tristan in which he writes, 'I would pull ya hair and kiss you than rip ya clothes off'. It is a message which inspires the kind of deep cringe that makes you want to burn your phone and never have a conversation again.

Meanwhile, Khloe gave birth shortly after the news broke last week. A source says she is 'feeling nothing but happiness right now. She is head over heels in love with her little girl - she is just consumed with love'.

The woman scorned doesn't need any fury if she has an army of hormonal millennials willing to feel it for her. Oh, and a few swimming pools. I think our Khloe will be OK.

*****

There are only two types of people in this life: those who know and adore Cardi B, and those who haven't followed her on Instagram yet. The first set of people were delighted, if not surprised, by her spectacular pregnancy announcement last week: performing in a white bodycon dress with an impressive bump.

I adore Cardi B. I can't really make head nor tail of her music, but that's more a reflection on my very specific Spotify algorithms than her rap, which serious music reviewers in serious publications (they still exist!) hail as accomplished and game-changing. She's earned nine nominations for this year's BET Hip Hop Awards, which puts her on a level with DJ Khaled and Kendrick Lamar.

She made history by bumping Taylor Swift from the No.1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, the first solo female rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill in 1998. Vogue is in love with her, once referring to her as "New York Fashion Week's Undisputed (and Uncensored) Front Row Queen". Cardi B is hot right now.

I had never really understood the appeal of vloggers or Insta-dollies until I happened upon Cardi, whose trademark apparently spontaneous Instagram videos first made her famous (that is to say, internet famous). She was completely enthralling. I could listen to her nonsense observations and complaints for hours - and at this stage I probably have. She's sweary, fast and breaks off mid-sentence to make strange noises. Her comedic timing is superb. She's all boobs and nails and sex and Bronx Latin dialect and she's completely charming.

She is the queen of a new generation of celebrity, who can't be ruined with personal revelations from before they were famous - because it's all already out there. She is the fully-realised post sex-tape Kim Kardashian. Cardi B is not shy about talking about her family, her difficult upbringing, gang affiliation or her (fairly recent) past as a stripper. If you're wondering how she did it, it's possible to follow her progression precisely over the last couple of years by scrolling back through her Instagram. It's all there.

You want to speculate about her ass? She'll tell you about the illegal injections she got in a basement, and how it leaked for five days. Wondering about the timing of the pregnancy with her debut album coming out and the world at her feet? Yeah, she 'kinda, sorta' considered her options, but "I just didn't want to… I'm a grown woman, I'm 25 years old, I'm gonna say this in the most humblest way: I'm a schmillionaire".

From working as a stripper, she turned herself into a social media personality, bounced on to reality TV off the back of that, and is now a ludicrously successful rapper, with endorsement deals coming out of her ears, a fashion line in the works and God knows what else.

All hail Queen Cardi: patron saint of beautiful young people with iPhones, who aren't about the 9-5 life and know the value of a personal brand when it comes to making shmillions.

*****

Harry Styles's concert in London last week saw thousands of his fans working together to turn the arena into a giant lit-up pride flag.

He was congratulated all over for this bold uncompromising move in what may be a protracted coming-out saga, until it was revealed that it was actually the work of two super-fans wanting to "create a beautiful safe space for fans". Naturally, it was organised over social media.

If that isn't enough to fill up your Millennial Bingo card, Harry still hasn't confirmed his sexuality - in that he hasn't said the words, which is driving everyone over 40 mad. He's danced around questions in interviews for years, and alluded to it in a new song: "the boys and girls are in/I messed around with him/and I'm OK with it". He literally wraps himself in pride flags on stage, and somehow we still think that unless he expressly tells us otherwise, he must be presumed straight.

The younger you are, the more likely it is that you won't subscribe to 'straight until proven queer'.

Harry is trying to be very insouciant about the whole thing; after all, sexuality is fluid, impossible to categorise, and nobody's business, right? BINGO!

Sunday Independent

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