It never made sense, the way it started. All of a sudden, E! was doing a show about some chick named Kim Kardashian and her family who live together in California and do nothing in particular. It was easy to turn off the television when The Girls Next Door ended (original cast, not the twins) and not think about the people who would come on after. But then Kim Kardashian started appearing on weight-loss supplements and magazine covers and causing riots in Soho — a place where people are not supposed to care about celebrities. And those who have resisted watching her show, and would be no more excited to see her than their laundromat, want to know: why?
The Times posits it has something to do with the massive amounts of products she shills, from makeup to self tanner to credit cards to a QVC line to a Bebe line. The paper spoke to branding expert Robert K. Passikoff:
“There was a time when Paris Hilton topped that list, when she was the most famous person for being nothing we had ever seen,” Mr. Passikoff said. (Ms. Hilton is now in third place.) Interestingly, he noted, many consumers associate Ms. Kardashian with entrepreneurship, far more so than with other celebrities.
But wait — how can products be enough to make someone the new Paris Hilton? Kim Kardashian doesn’t get drunk, much less go around with “whipped cream” poking out her nostril right after she’s flashed her crotch getting out of a car. No, if she’s going to be photographed naked, she’s going to plan that. So what’s the intrigue, especially if she already has a sex tape and anyone with Internet can easily see her naked?
“The average girl,” said Julie Sunday, 22, from Scranton, Pa., who recently left a job doing accounting work for a political media buying company in Washington.
“She represents fashion,” said Wendy Sosa, 22, a waitress from the Bronx. “I like the way she dresses.”
“She has an ethnic sex appeal,” said Sarah Harooni, 26, a paralegal from Queens. “I like how she created a franchise with her sisters. That opens a lot of opportunities for women who have a spark of beauty and want to shine. She reminds me of Sophia Loren.”
“She stands out from every other celebrity in the world,” said Emma Brodel, 21, a journalism student from Queensland, Australia. “She is natural and curvaceous. There are too many thin celebrities out there who make women feel they are overweight.”
Kim thinks it’s because she communicates with her fans about things they like, and then does them the courtesy of making those things for them. If she likes hoop earrings, she’ll make and wear hoop earrings no matter what the fashion industry would say about them. But maybe she’s so famous because her true talent is neither making things nor wearing hoop earrings nor not being really skinny, but something the Times doesn’t really address: keeping herself in the news. Celebrities have been known to tip off Us Weekly with news regarding themselves.
Kim Kardashian Inc. [NYT]