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Kim Kardashian

A Post – O.J. World

February 12, 2017

Dear Reader,

It’s unsettling to watch a period piece about the 1990s. Period pieces about the 1890s made up a decent majority of what I watched throughout high school, but my mid-twenties seem suddenly marked by more than just 9os boy band nostalgia. This whole year has been rife with 90s references that I am just a few years too young to understand. The history of Hilary, for instance, is something I have had to educate myself on. For me, Hilary is a Senator, then a candidate, then a Secretary of State. This is where she begins for me. When her campaign ads and her opponents talk about her time as First Lady and this scandal or that achievement, the references mostly don’t reach me. But there’s this scene in The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story where Sarah Paulson’s Marcia Clark walks into a courtroom ready to do battle against a wife-beating accused murderer. All anyone cares about is her haircut. In that moment, I think I understood more about Hilary Clinton than I ever have.The series is a study in all the Murphy/Falchuk team can do right. It examines the O.J. crime, trial, and acquittal in as much granular detail as a contemporary audience can tolerate. There are many characters but each are established and given proper motivation and focus; we see Robert Kardashian, for instance, take the daily journey from presumption of innocence to queasy certainty of guilt. In a fascinating reversal of this journey we see O.J. himself seem to walk that journey in reverse.I came to The People V. O.J. Simpson knowing very little about the story. A good deal of the intended audience must be those who watched the original trial and I was just a bit too young. The kind of national obsession it commanded is something I have experienced in various smaller and more tawdry ways: Casey Anthony, Anthony Wiener, the Kardashians. But watching this fictionalization of the O.J. phenomenon has shed light for me on all that has come after. I live in a world where I am frequently asked to care about Kim Kardashian without really understanding where that demand came from. But theres something about seeing those mini Kardashians giddily caught up in their father’s O.J.-adjacent fame. It brings it all into some sort of warped focus. And though I wish I could help bringing politics into everything, there is much about this that presages the election of the first reality TV president.A lot of The People V. O.J. Simpson is predicated on the idea that a good story is the most powerful way to reach someone. Both the prosecution and the defense understand this, though it’s the defense that makes it their whole mantra. In many ways the show functions as a new appeal to another jury, almost an act of wish fulfillment that if only all that raw footage could be placed in its proper context- could be made into a story, we might take more than four hours to deliberate. Much has been made of the casting, and a quick google shows how incredibly on point it really is. Sarah Paulson portrayed Marcia Clark in an incredibly humanizing way that drew everything from feminist rage to tears of incredible pity. The best fiction aspires to portray its characters as complex enough that we can believe they are fully human. Although there are villains here, there are somehow… no villains here. There are a collection of humans who are alternately buoyed by the better angels of their nature and drowned by the fatal weaknesses in their characters.

 

 

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye

April 10, 2014

Dear Reader,

According to Kanye, “Kim is like a fantasy, period. She’s like a dream girl. And I think a dream girl should live in a dream world.” April’s Vogue cover certainly fits in to that idea. The women that have traditionally graced the cover of Vogue are there because they are our society’s dream girls. Beyonce, Lena Dunham, Michelle Obama, Kate Upton, and Rihanna have all recently been Vogue cover girls and are all living lives that most people only dream of living. The controversy surrounding Kim Kardashian joining the ranks of these illustrious fashionistas has been fierce and has driven up sales to the point where at nearly 400,000 magazines sold so far, this issue is looking like it is going to be a bestseller. But the real question is… what does Vogue actually think about Kim Kardashian?

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am TonightWintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am Tonight

The article is funny. Hamish Bowles is always an entertaining writer and his prose tends to air on the Oscar Wilde side. But even without his wry tone there is enough of Kim, Kris Jenner, and Kanye to give the reader a distinctly strange and off-putting impression of the Kimye phenomenon. Quotes like, “I take pictures of her [referring to North, her baby] all the time and dress her up,” says Kim. “I put Kanye’s big chains around her, and I put a little Louis bag and some Jordans, and I was like, ‘What up, Daddy?'” seem like they are initially meant to make the audience awwww- but really the image is a little weird. Almost like Kim has been waiting all her life to have a doll to dress up and now she’s found one.

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am TonightThen there’s the tagline of the whole article:

From London to Paris to Los Angeles, Hamish Bowles joins Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in their quest for world domination—and the perfect wedding dress.

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am TonightAdd that to Kanye’s quote about possibly renting out the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles for their wedding, and Kimye dominating the world looks… well a lot like the past. Like Louis XIV himself should be placing the ring on Kim’s finger. And speaking of mirrors, Bowles throws in a great hint of passive bias when describing baby North’s nursery, saying “Tord Boontje’s iconic Swarovski pink blossom chandelier twinkles above a Lucite crib and pale-colored shag-pile carpeting, all reflected in a narcissism-nurturing mirrored wall.” The whole article practically drips with comments like that.

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am TonightAnna Wintour has defended her choice to place Kim and Kanye on the cover of this issue, saying, “Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it.” Personally, I think she is doing much more than that in this feature.

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am TonightSubtly, but not so subtly, Bowles’ prose, the quotes that were chosen, the pictures that Leibovitz took, and even the way the cover is presented all seem to pull together into a total critique of the Kimye phenomenon. It is unlikely anyone is going to walk away from this article or the photographs that accompany it thinking “I want to be just like them” or “Those people seem so cool and interesting.” It is more likely that you will feel like you want to take a spiritual retreat away from a world where Kimyes exist. Much like in Leibovitz’s shot of North’s nursery, sometimes all it takes is someone holding up a mirror to see what’s actually there. Wintour has served us up a Kimye at the height of their powers and like the fabled emperor’s new clothes… I think we can see them for who they really are.

Wintour, Bowles, Leibovitz, and Kimye- The Person I Am Tonight