The Kardashians just signed a record-breaking deal and will earn over $100 million for four more seasons of their reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. What's the right way to feel about this?
While there are no details about the deal, Page Six reports that it will likely include spin-off shows, and vehicles for younger sisters Kendall and Kylie. No reality brand has ever been paid this much, and it's important that six women made this tremendous business deal for themselves. Every feminist bone in my body wants to stand up and cheer.
But that's not how we talk about the Kardashians. We mock and resent them for being reality stars in the first place. We get upset, call them talentless. They make an absurd amount of money from selling the story of their lives, and we can't figure out how they have the nerve to profit from one of the most denigrated forms of television (yet we can't stop watching). Do we hate them, calling them high-rising bottom feeders? Or do we admire them, calling them brilliant, business-minded, multi-media magicians? Are they feminist?
Kim Kardashian created a popular game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, with Glu Mobile, which has reportedly earned over $43 million between July and September. Seventeen-year-old Kylie Jenner just purchased a $2.7 million mansion, one block away from older sisters Kourtney and Khloe in Calabasas. She earns a paycheck from appearing on the reality show with her family the same way other kids her age have earned a shitload of money through performing, but do we hate her for having more than us and flaunting it? Or are we proud of her for being so independent and self-sufficient at such a young age? We'll judge (and I do mean judge) for ourselves when we see who she chooses to date next.
Apparently there's a right way to be a successful business woman, and the Kardashians are not adhering to the rules. Apparently there's a right way to make money, and they are not following the path.
The Kardashians bring out the worst in all of us. They're curled up in the part of our brains that rubbernecks car accidents and peels scabs. We resent them for being messy. We resent them for making us look. But apparently, we're watching.
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.