Kim Kardashian and Meta-News
October 17, 2016
This is going to be meta. It's an article about articles about reactions to an article. And I already wrote about something consequential this week, so now I can write some fluff about how Kim Kardashian was robbed, how the world reacted ambivalently, if not mirthfully, and how a wave of analytical articles popped up to explain how everyone is awful for treating such a terrible armed robbery as a joke.
The hearts of these columnists are in the right place. Their concern is easy enough to understand, from a particular perspective. Defending poor Kim Kardashian makes sense, as long as you see her as a person. Despite Twitter and Instagram bringing us all closer together, most people still have a decent conception of the difference between real people and businesses. Kim Kardashian is a business, for all intents and purposes. Her social media profiles are advertisements, not the free expression of a real human being.
And those individuals who are cracking jokes, (apparently the vast majority of people who care about this at all) sense this. They aren't making fun of a person's pain. People get sympathy for their mistakes. But Kim, remember, isn't really a person anymore. She's a new kind of complex entity that's closer to a marketing business. When a business suffers a setback, it generally inspires contempt and laughter. (See the collapse of Radio Shack for a recent example). This is not to say that being assaulted and tied up isn't awful. That's just not what the public reaction is about. It's just business.
This particular business failed to protect $10,000,000 of assets by leaving them unguarded in a hotel room. When banks move that much money, they hire a steel box on wheels and armed guards to move it. When even this isn't enough, and the armoured car/bank vault gets robbed, it becomes a legend, with the public dissecting the plans and motivations of the thieves in documentaries and reports, and almost admiring the daring of the perpetrators. We collectively identify with the robbers who pull off the daring heist, not the soulless bank and their police lackeys. In this case, Kardashian is the latter element, and most people will still identify with the antihero. The trouble is that the victim of the crime still looks like a person, even though, as addressed above, she isn't. This is kind of confusing for some people, because it makes the memes and jokes look really cruel, for mocking the misfortune of their friend from Instagram and Twitter.
Whoever the real Kim Kardashian is, we don't know her, don't care to know her, and probably never will. The laughter comes from a place that subconsciously recognizes that she's a company now. The concern and scolding over the laughter comes from a place that doesn't.
Never thought I'd devote this much time to thinking about Kim Kardashian, but there you go. If you still feel bad for her, keep in mind that this event will probably raise her profile in France considerably, which will hopefully lead to a nice sales boost. It all returns to equilibrium eventually.