Kim Kardashian recently claimed she was upset that W magazine displayed her naked body in its November "Art Issue." Through her tears on a recent episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York, she claimed she had been told her semi-private parts were going to be covered with artwork.
Perhaps she should have been worried more about the art than her parts.
On the cover of the magazine, the curvaceous queen of reality television is strategically covered by the work of Barbara Kruger. Kruger is famous for combining words with images from advertising or celebrity portraits. Her works comment on the consumer-driven culture of the United States, and they critique the force of advertising and media to shape our identities.
In the case of "Kruger Meets Kardashian," the young woman's body is superimposed with three blocks of type: It's all about me. I mean you. I mean me.
With the first line, Kruger seems to suggest Kim is telling us honestly that she is the center of the viewer's attention. The straightforward look on Kim's face reinforces this. And who could say she is wrong?
failure to dance on stage with Prince got major rotation on Yahoo!, along with tidbits from Donald Rumsfeld's autobiography and "Where to find amazing pies."
That second phrase -- I mean you -- is echoed in the W article. The author follows Kim to a promotional appearance at a Nordstrom's in Santa Monica, California. Several times Kim comments on her close relationship to her fans. At one point she says, trying to explain her popularity among young women, "They have sisters or they don't have sisters, and then they see me as a sister. They relate to me. And I'm honored."
These moments of sister solidarity are undercut, though. Those fans gathered to greet her in Santa Monica are limited to the first 200 who purchase at least $75 worth of FusionBeauty products. And the article suggests that more than a few of Kim's Tweets involve pumping the products she has endorsed. It seems sisterhood has a price.
I mean me.
Perhaps Kim didn't pick up on Kruger's potential critique. Perhaps she was happy simply to be covered up by the work of a famous artist, since in the media-driven world today the reason for a person's fame is less important than the fame itself. Perhaps for Kim it didn't matter what Kruger was saying; it was enough that Kruger is famous and her art sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But it might be more appropriate to state, "You shop therefore I am." Or "I sell therefore you are."
Both options suggest the strange cycle of codependency that develops between seller and consumer. They need each other and they perpetuate that need -- those "sisters" consume in the desire to feel connected to Kim, and Kim's desire to be desired depends upon those "sisters" consuming.
Part Three: Is "docu-soap" a better name for reality TV shows? How about "improvisational drama"?