The Formula for Fame


kardashian.JPGSome silly things in life make me wonder why.

Why, for example, does one of my coworkers love Mountain Dew so much? Why do I always get lost in the Bangkok airport, despite plotting my course with a map and having been there multiple times? And just why, exactly, is mechanically separated chicken necessary? (On second thought, I don’t actually want to know that last one.)

Lately, I can add a new, silly quandary to my list: Why is Kim Kardashian famous?

Last week, every time I turned around I heard about was her multi-million-dollar wedding. But why? For goodness’ sake, she made a sex tape that was leaked in 2007! Later that year (as a reward, I assume), she posed nude for Playboy magazine, and then her mostly-K-named family was given their own self-titled reality show. Now she has the celebrity businesswoman platform to “develop” (i.e., use minions of behind-the-scenes people who actually have the expertise) fragrances and other products.

Twenty years ago, a sex tape wouldn’t have made someone famous and influential. Infamous and ashamed, perhaps, but not admired and adored. But shame is history, it seems to me, and self-promotion is a sign of our times. Give someone 15 minutes of notoriety and, with the Hollywood machine, they can ride that wave into a brand name. Nowadays, retreating from public humiliation is a sign of defeat, so many camera-ready celebs brazenly embrace their bad behavior. All they need to do is have a mischievous response ready for every misstep (sexual or other) they take, and a “courageous” tweet that says the situation has made them stronger. They just can’t actually apologize for what they’ve done. And certainly they cannot hide from the cameras.

In 2011, this is the path to a certain kind of stardom. Stardom that means absolutely nothing at all—but cashes in exceptionally well. 

Who wrote this?

Meredith has had two careers: one as a writer/editor for both Focus on the Family and The Navigators, and one as an English teacher trekking far-flung corners of Europe, Africa and Asia. She now rejoins Focus, but with souvenirs—including new eyes with which to better view American culture.

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