Are the Kardashians Keeping Up Appearances?
The Kardashians become more relatable the more famous they become.
Posted Aug 14, 2011
Then there is Kim. Beautiful lustrous hair, and well, the list starts there. Yet not unlike Paris Hilton, she came onto the scene as a socialite and gained notoriety due to the accidental (or "accidental" ?) release of a sex tape. This combination certainly does not lay the foundation to the modern American family. And yet over several seasons, the Kardashians with what must be some of the best PR agents in the nation are becoming surprisingly more and more... relatable. With Kim's nearly 9 million followers on Twitter, people are definitely tuning in.
Are the troops just dropping one by one? No, they are regular people just like you and me. Remember now, reality television is supposed to mimic reality. That is why long after a brief stint in helping Katrina victims, Bruce drags Kendall and Kylie to the local homeless shelter to see how others live. The youngest of the Jenner clan befriend a few of the girls there and exchange numbers (I'd like to see the follow-up episode on the friendships forged). Kris Jenner becomes an ordained minister, officiates a wedding and the words "tradition" and "values" roll off her tongue like never before. Even the family pastor makes an appearance.
Despite a plethora of profanity aimed at the each other and lots of pushing and shoving, the Kardashians (and let's not forget Jenners before Kris toys with the idea of changing her last again) are saying, "We are just like you." We fight, but we make up at the end of the day. We get embarrassing medical conditions too. We contribute to charitable causes and work very very hard. Our kids may get neglected in the process, but we are trying to reconnect with them. Kim's heart has been broken by boys and the unrelenting media. We know, we've seen her mope, as well as be upset every time she's seen scrolling through the tabloids on her computer or phone reading insults and lies directed at her (Kim, I already said you have pretty hair in this article, so hopefully we're good).
The literature on loss of face suggests that individuals from collectivistic backgrounds are more likely to engage in behaviors to maintain their status, dignity, and pride (Zane, 2000). In essence, it involves keeping up appearances for the sake of your family. Half of the Kardashians are Armenian, so maybe a little bit of residual face saving? At the very least, some interesting self-reflexivity. It is almost as though every criticism that could be made of the Kardashians (child out of wedlock, spoiled demeanor, etc.) is addressed in some sort of episode. Then there is a medical concern added to the recipe just in case we needed an additional reason to lay off them. Fair enough.