BY FROMA HARROP
If you don’t already know about the Kardashian sisters, you probably don’t want to know. Kourtney, Kim and Khloe have grown very rich dressing like tramps and otherwise exhibiting themselves, including sessions on the toilet [viewable on their E! channel program, Keeping up With the Kardashians].
When not sharing their gynecological concerns [sort of takes the edge off romance] or their chaotic mixed family, they expound on their four-figure handbags, pricy spike footwear, BMWs and other earthly treasures, their material values stamped by flashy childhoods in Beverly Hills. If you’re the type who drinks tea, chances are the Kardashian girls are not your cup.
On the other hand … they do exude a certain honesty and charm. It’s refreshing to find dark, earthy and curvy Armenian ethnics succeeding in a pop culture that usually defines beauty as anorexic and blonde. The girls also possess an Olympian work ethic, as they busily license their “private” lives.
Meanwhile, the sisters’ best-selling book, Kardashian Konfidential, offers young women sound advice, foreign to the pop culture’s divas of dissolution. For example: Have a sense of humor. For another: Stand up straight.
Finally – and this is a chilling thought – by Hollywood’s lower-end standards, the Kardashians’ money lust and seeming lack of any dignity may not be that unusual. So rather than immediately delete the Kardashian girls from my inbox for cultural consideration, I want to improve them.
And here’s how. The Kardashians have an enormous following. In 2010, there were more Internet searches for “Kim Kardashian” [the “bootylicious” middle sister] than for “stock market” or “swine flu,” according to Bing, the Microsoft search engine. Kim outranked Tiger Woods, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Barack Obama. People you and I know may have only the dimmest idea of who these young women are or why “everyone” talks about them, but the Kardashians are too big to ignore.
Meanwhile, somewhere between their crayoned brows and blow-dried crowns lie considerable brains, obviously inherited from their late father. Robert Kardashian was the super-lawyer who helped O.J. Simpson beat a murder rap in the death of his wife and a friend.
These smarts are applied 24/7 to getting attention in a culture pulsating with exhibitionism. And let’s face facts. The girls’ tarty act has been going on for quite some time. Short of producing triple-X pornography, there’s not much room for ramping up the slut factor. So why don’t they try something really different – intellectual uplift? Nothing would electrify the gossip columns more than a Kardashian campaign for high culture. Imagine the headline: Kim Konfronts Kafka: Is Her Konversion for Real?
How about bringing good books into the conversation, as Oprah has done. How about being videotaped reading a newspaper while waiting for the bikini wax. Why doesn’t Kim send a tweet to her 5 million Twitter followers that “we’re now going to read Salman Rushdie”?
That would really shock the public. Many who avoid the girls for digestive health reasons might start listening in. And media that have ignored the entire Kardashian phenomenon might give it coverage, bringing in an audience that had completely tuned out the girls and others in their domestic circus.
Thing is, the Kardashians have the cleverness to pull this off. And they might be ready for a change of pace, as well. My fantasy of the Kardashian girls moving into a thoughtful mode is a tribute to their native intelligence. I would never extend this fantasy to the Paris Hiltons and Kate Gosselins, who unlike the Kardashian girls, seem total dimwits.
Go for it, Kourtney, Kim and Khloe. Put on glasses that aren’t sunglasses. Astonish us.
– Froma Harrop’s columns appear regularly in The Oklahoma Observer