Published On: Sun, Mar 4th, 2012

Fake For Fame

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You would have had to be living in a cave to have not been exposed in one way or another to the celebrity ilk of Kim Kardashian. However if you ask anyone what Kim Kardashian is famous for, you’ll probably hear something like “She’s famous for being famous.” Right?

So, how did this happen?

Sure, her privileged upbringing surrounded her with money and ensured her a certain social status. Due to proximity, the seeds of fame and fortune were planted at a young age. However Kim wasn’t a really talented girl, neither was she equipped with stunning looks.

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Curved I guess

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In 2006, she briefly dated actor Nick Lachey. Lachey broke up with his girlfriend the other day so the paparazzi went wild. The next night Kim “the nobody” was out with Paris Hilton. They were in Paris’ car and the paparazzi started taking pictures. Usually they would shout, ‘Paris! Paris! Paris!’, but they started yelling ‘Kim! Kim! Kim!’ Kim Kardashian, the enterprise, had officially been launched.

Opportunities aside, she’s always been super-ambitious. Before Kim was famous, she worked in retail; had a closet-organizing business; made money selling things on eBay; co-operated a kids’ clothing store, Smooch, with her sisters and mom Kris Jenner; and became a stylist. But, starting when she was about 12 years old, her real dream was to be a reality TV star.

Then, quite suddenly, her dream came true.

“One of our mom’s best friends is Kathie Lee Gifford. Whenever Kathie Lee would visit us, she’d say, ‘You are such a crazy family! Where are the cameras? We need cameras in here!’ She thought the family would make a really funny show. So mom Kris went to Ryan Seacrest with the idea and he loved it. And literally a week later we had all these people with cameras in our house filming, and it was on the air really soon after that.”

“It all happened so fast,” she says, “we didn’t really know what we were doing. Then, right after we began filming, I was asked to pose in Playboy.”

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A Playboy Shoot is always a good start to one's career

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And then there was the sex tape. But hey, that’s pretty mundane these days. Tape your sex life, ‘leak’ the adventure and cry wolf you’re so embarrassed while you cash in. It’s media-promotion 101 for the 21st century.

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Please notice my embarrassment

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And the rest, as they say, is history. Now, she’s a household name. An entrepreneur. A budding singer. A sometime actress. A designer. A perfumista. And everything in between. In late November 2010, she was even hired by Charmin to open up a new bathroom in Times Square. Now that’s famous. (And kind of weird.) Her wedding to Kris Humphries pulled in $18 million in one day. There are obvious downsides to living your life, and love, in the public eye; Kim filed for divorce after 72 days of marriage.

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Marriage as Business

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But why Kim? And why anyone, for that matter? Why are we so obsessed? Why is that there isn’t a day gone by that Kim Kardashian isn’t featuring a newspaper headline or magazine somewhere around the world?

It almost doesn’t matter what you’re famous for. If you look the part of a celebrity and you’re on the red carpet and someone’s taking your picture, everyone starts to drool. We’re increasingly less interested in the content of what these people do. And more interested in the kind of celebrity nature of their lives. What happens on the red carpet at the premiere is more of interest to us than the premiere itself.

Kim, and the many like her, are performers. And the performance that she’s giving is how she lives her pseudo-celebrity life and navigates all of the drama in that world. That, in and of itself, is a kind of performance. And she’s obviously quite good at it.

Kim’s fame is predominantly brought about by her audience rather than because of any accomplishment on her part. And it is this fame that subsequently has become recognized as her accomplishment.

Kim Kardashian has giant breasts, a sex tape and three sisters whose first names all begin with the letter K, and two half sisters whose first names also start with the letter K. In this day and age, that qualifies. Ouch.

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About the Author

- As a creative strategist I work on complex (digital) communications issues for international industry leading companies, organizations and agencies. I'm interested in how technology integrates with (and influences) traditional marketing, media, human behavior, society and culture.

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