Normally my default reaction to Kim Kardashian's ButtGate would be to bemoan the state of everything. Look at us, mindlessly gawking at the screen and feeding our souls to the beast. The world melts and burns around us and yet it's this, this absolute black hole of value, that we give our attention to.
This past year has seen the usual array of gross contributors to popular culture, and Kim Kardashian's latest ploy to remain relevant for no reason is a big round glossy example.
This is the sort of thing you would usually find on my wall:
But I understand our need for distraction. After a long hard day slaving for the system I want nothing more than to crack a beer and escape into Star Trek reruns, so this piece is not about critiquing our empty culture. This is about silver linings. Not the blind falling into them, but the conscious grown-up acknowledgment that they do exist and that it's okay to sometimes let yourself see them.
What all this hoopla (how old am I? is that even still a word?), what all this buzz shines a light on is that despite gathering clicks and Twitter trend analytics, the Kardashian non-story has also caused wide public backlash and deep commentary on its cultural significance. There was the #fixtheinternet trend that tried to counter-balance this vacuous breaking of the web with some better cultural alternatives; and there have been many opinion pieces on the historical subjugation of women and women of colour.
Kim may have succeeded in garnering a bit more attention for herself and whatever it is her career is, but for every apparent positive gained there have been as many or more negatives. She is not escaping this unscathed and in the long run probably helped the cause of segregating her and her fame-whoring ilk as an irrelevant joke.
And this has happened a lot lately.
No longer do crappy cultural events pass idly by without persecution. You will be judged, not only by the elite upper literati, but by every person fed up with a culture less advanced than they are, a progressive group of normal people that everyday seems to grow in number.
Nicki Minaj and her Anaconda booty pose provoked thought-pieces on how appreciating big instead of skinny may seem great but still just divides women into parts. Jonah Hill accidentally let loose the word faggot during an altercation with some aggressive paparazzi and went on national TV to let everyone know that this word is no longer acceptable. And Miley Cyrus's weird tongue-twerking performance was the original Internet breaker, inspiring cultural commentary across the web.
Is Beyoncé's brand of high-thighed fabulous feminism good or bad for the movement?
These sort of questions were not asked when Madonna was giving fake-fellatio to everything in sight or wearing sharp pyramid-shaped braziers. When 1980s pop starlet Samantha Fox posed topless for countless pinup posters, that's all it was -- a busty blonde looking blonde and busty. Teenage boys hung her on their walls and we all went on blissfully listening to her asking us to please "Touch Me, Touch Me, I Want to Feel Your Body."
Oh, what a simpler time. No deep observations on how this or that alienates or disempowers. We could just sit back and enjoy the sexy banality.
But not today. My newsfeed is littered with concerns of body image, equal pay for equal work, and why women are still underrepresented in books and film. When someone pulls a cheap publicity stunt they may indeed receive the attention they so badly desire, but the net result to society is no longer necessarily a negative. We have come far enough that with every empty and ridiculous action you actually help push things along.
By being so overt and shameless, yes you make us look at you, yet it's no longer as a sexy symbol of someone we want, but rather as a glaring sign of something we don't.
It may look like Kim Kardashian is winning in some way, that the fame radiating off of her Photoshopped body parts is an indication of the sorry state of things. But it only seems that way. In the wider angle, the one outside and above the edges, that false radiance is shining light on a bigger, more enlightened picture.
And I am hopeful.
This piece originally appeared on HeadSpace
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