Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Is Kim Kardashian on the Cover of Vogue?

I’ve been contemplating why Kim Kardashian’s Vogue magazine cover upsets me so much.  After all, who cares?  It doesn’t affect me personally.  I don’t watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians, I don’t buy tabloid magazines, I don’t buy any of the Kardashian clothing line at Sears.  (Sears!  Classy!)  I do not contribute to the Kardashian fortune at all.  Occasionally I laugh at Kim Kardashian’s clothing choices, but that is about it.  Instead, I try to ignore the Kardashians, to hope that their fifteen minutes of fame will end soon.  It has to, right?  After all, they are nothing more than reality television personalities.  These types of careers are notoriously short-lived.  It wasn’t so long ago that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt were all over the place, and now they are nowhere to be found.

Over the past year, Vogue has featured the following women on its U.S. cover:  Rihanna (actress), Lena Dunham (actress and writer), Cate Blanchett (actress), Jessica Chastain (actress), Kate Winslet (actress), Sandra Bullock (actress), Jennifer Lawrence (actress), Claire Danes (actress), Katy Perry (singer), Kate Upton (model), Carey Mulligan (actress), Michelle Obama (First Lady), and Beyonce (singer).  And then…Kim Kardashian!  One of these things is not like the other, is it? 
Has Anna Wintour lost her mind?  One wonders what Kim Kardashian has done to merit the cover of Vogue.  Vogue!  The Fashion Bible.  A Vogue cover seems to give an air of legitimacy to Kim Kardashian’s “career.”  But what has Kim Kardashian ever done to deserve a Vogue cover?   Unlike the women who have graced the cover before her, she is not an actress, singer, model, writer, or the First Lady.  What does Kim Kardashian actually do?  We know she goes shopping, dates athletes and other celebrities, had a very large and expensive wedding paid for by TLC, which was rendered moot within days.  She goes to yogurt shops, restaurants, and clubs.  Cameras follow her around.  The paparazzi takes her picture.  She follows Kanye West around like a puppy dog and seems to have lost what little fashion sense she had once he got into the picture.  

Let’s recall why Kim Kardashian is famous in the first place.  A sex tape.  A sex tape.  Has anyone else with a sex tape ever appeared on the cover of Vogue?  Isn’t Vogue supposed to be a classy magazine?  Suddenly it’s lost all class.  Luckily, Kim’s mother was intelligent enough to parlay the sex tape into Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which created the Kardashian empire.  (I don’t understand why anyone would want to watch this show, but apparently people do.)

Kim Kardashian is nothing more than a reality television personality.    She’s Honey Boo Boo all grown up.  She has no discernible talent. She can’t act, sing, or write.  She’s not a model.   Is she pretty?  Sure.  But so are a lot of women.  She does not seem particularly intelligent when you hear her speak.  She’s in her early 30s and a mother and is taking selfies of her ass and posting them on Twitter and Instagram.       
Being on the cover of a magazine like Vogue used to mean something.  I may not like some of the other women who have been featured on the cover of Vogue, but at least they do something.  I can’t stand Lena Dunham, but she has a hit TV show.  I think Rihanna is dumber than a box of rocks based on her Twitter posts, but she sings, dancers, and performs for stadiums full of people.    

In explaining her decision to put Kim Kardashian on the cover of Vogue, Anna Wintour explained that “being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it. I think we can all agree on the fact that that role is currently being played by Kim and Kanye to a T.”  Have we really sunk so low as a country that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West define our culture?  Is Kim Kardashian really that popular…for doing nothing?  Or is she popular merely because the paparazzi will not let us forget about her?   

The ratings for Keeping Up With the Kardashians have been plummeting and hit an all-time low last month.  At its peak, an average of 3.39 million viewers watched.  Now ratings are around 2 million viewers per episode.  There are over 314 million people in the United States, if that shows you how few people actually watch this show.  Rumor has it that sales of the Kardashian Kollection at Sears have been less than optimal.  (Does anyone want to dress like the Kardashians?)  Although Kim’s Cosmopolitan (April 2013) cover sold well, her Allure (March 2012), Glamour (January 2012) and Marie Claire (December 2011) sold poorly.  While tabloids featuring the Kardashians sell well, is it because people like the Kardashians or because they want to laugh at the Kardashians?  Sometimes it’s difficult to tell.  

Which leads me to wonder…if the paparazzi stopped taking pictures of Kim Kardashian, would anyone notice?  If she stopped Tweeting, would anyone care?  If talk show hosts stopped interviewing her would we even miss her?  How long would it take for people to move on to the next reality show (remember how big Jersey Shore was a couple of years ago?) and the next tabloid fodder?  If the media was not constantly shoving the talentless Kardashians down our throats, wouldn’t we all find other people to read about – people who might actually contribute something to society?   

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, rather than featuring a woman who is famous for a sex tape, Anna Wintour had put Marissa Mayer (Yahoo’s CEO), Mary Barra (General Motors’ CEO), or Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard’s CEO) on the cover of April’s Vogue?  Wouldn’t that be a better message to send to young women today?  Instead, the message is that you can do nothing and still land the cover of Vogue.  No wonder so many young people just want to “be famous” when they grow up, without bothering to consider how they might become famous.

At any rate, I’m stunned that Anna Wintour has done this, even though she might just be crazy like a fox and counting on the publicity to sell issues.  I’ve been done with magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour for several years (who have also put various Kardashians on the cover).  Now I’m done with Vogue as well.  It’s a shame.  Their September issue used to be my fall fashion Bible.  No more.


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