Kim Kardashian’s claim to fame was the infamous 2007 leak of her sex tape with ex-boyfriend Ray J. There’s no escaping the fact. The fall of 2007 found Kardashian and her family make their reality TV debut on E!’s Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The rest, they say, is history. In the seven years that have followed, Kardashian has faced criticism over being “famous for being famous,” a long line of fashion endorsements, an ill-received marriage (and whirlwind divorce) to NBA player Kris Humphries, a few forgettable film roles, and marriage to your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper, Kanye West. As is the norm in pop culture these days, celebrities are shoved down our throats in grocery store tabloids, gossip sites, and social media.
By now, everybody is aware of Paper‘s tantalizing photo spread and fluff piece on the most famous Kardashian. I have no real criticism with writer Amanda Fortini’s expose on Kim beyond its “written just to be written” subject matter. However, in the 24-hour timetable from Kardashian’s mooning of the internet to the full article and photo spread release, was the internet actually broken?
If there’s anything that will get people talking, it’s sex. And for that, well done Paper. Instead of creating some interesting, creative, and compelling content, you paired up with one of pop culture’s most powerful female figures (for better or worse), paired her with an unbelievably talented photographer in Jean-Paul Goude, and worked to the lowest common denominator to boost site traffic, increase sales for a physical magazine in the wake of print’s dying culture, and get people talking.
But what’s more important? Becoming a trending topic or actually breaking the internet with something worthwhile of being considered “groundbreaking”? I understand the importance of embracing pop culture and entertainment when running a media outlet – obviously – and I understand how celebrity can make or break an outlet’s popularity and sheer survival in a wide-open internet where we’re all competing for hits, Twitter mentions, and Facebook likes. But with articles like Paper‘s “No Filter: An Afternoon with Kim Kardashian,” where’s the substance? As Kim joked herself on Twitter, “Because we know you came just [to] read the article…” she understands and acknowledges just how empty the article really was.
So here we are now, with pro-Kim crowds embracing how her Mom boobs really did #BreakTheInternet and anti-Kim crowds calling for people to #FixTheInternet. For a pop culture entity who has tried (and succeeded… at times) to legitimize herself since the sex tape, what do these photos ultimately say about Kim Kardashian, the person and the brand? Is she fully realizing who she is and accepting that which propelled her to stardom in the first place? Or is all of this an attempt to stay relevant before her relevancy runs the risk of fading?
It’s too early to tell. And ultimately, what does it matter in the end? You’re all here just to “read the article” anyways, right?