Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ain't nothing little about Kim

Did you hear the news?

Kim Kardashian is upset because W magazine printed nude pictures of her.

She regretted posing nude for Playboy.  Then she regretted posing nude for Harper's Bazaar.  And most recently she regretted posing nude for W in its November "Art Issue."

For someone who regrets posing nude for magazines, doesn't she pose nude for a lot of magazines?

But all of this makes sense.  She is a star of a reality TV show, so therefore we can trust nothing that she says to be ... real.

If those pictures were printed in November, then why did her regret make the news in late January?  Because her tears over her exposed ta-tas were seen in a recent episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York.  The scene (link) was recorded around November, so that means she kept her displeasure, unlike her daunting body, under wraps for several weeks.

Kim is no fool.  She knows how to keep her name in the headlines.  Those photographs had played themselves out, but her TV tears revived them quite easily.  Her name -- and  the images -- were all over the Internet again, and she didn't even have to pose for another picture.

Again, Kim is no fool.  In the TV scene she calls the photographs "full-on porn."  They are not pornographic, although calling them that enhances the sense of injury or injustice done to her.   But she knows what porn is.  Her career as a professional celebrity was launched by a sex tape made with her then-boyfriend and singer Ray J.  Before then, she was merely a sidekick for Paris Hilton.  Since then, Kim is closing in on Paris in earning power ($6 million/year vs. $8.5 million/year), and by some measurements she has surpassed Paris in appeal for product endorsements and aspiration (people who want to be like her).

Since her sex-tape days, Kim has made herself into a brand that sells a complicated mixture of sexuality and classiness, corporeal beauty and capitalistic brains.

And then this week we learn that -- surprise -- she doesn't regret posing for the W photographs.  She told Us Weekly that now she loves her nude photographs.  In the dramatic arc of these photographs she occupies several positions: first, she is a daring, sexual beauty; then, she is a good girl crying tears of embarrassment and injustice; finally, she is still a good girl but also a mature woman, one who can distinguish dirty pictures from art and who is happy to have participated in the latter.

In announcing her initial unhappiness with the W photographs, she said she thought key points of her body would be covered with artwork.  And they were -- on the cover.  The only thing covering them in the other shots was a layer of silver paint.  Photographer Mark Seliger made an interesting choice in that color.  It seems gold would have been more appropriate -- echoing both the James Bond film Goldfinger (whose movie poster and opening credits featured a woman covered in gold) and the legend of King Midas, who could turn anything he touched into gold.  With the exception of the ill-fated Kardashian Kard, Kim seems to be a Queen Midas: any product she endorses sees its sales multiply.  Having about five million followers on Twitter can do that.

Coming Soon
Part Two: Barbara Kruger's art covers Kim Kardashian's private parts, but what is it saying?

Part Three: Is "docu-soap" a better name for reality TV shows?  How about "improvisational drama"?

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