Less than two weeks before ending her 72-day marriage, Kim Kardashian had an unintentional Marie Antoinette moment, courtesy of the then-month-old Occupy Wall Street movement.
“That cake looks so good,” she gushed, referring to a dessert consumed at Zuccotti Park, The Wall Street Journal noted.
Kardashian’s made-for-television marriage, which seemingly ended as fast as the click of a remote, certain upped her status as a symbol of all things wrong with Reality TV, even outscoring Snooki on the vapid scale.
But unlike some, we’re not willing to blame Kardashian and her family for much bigger problems far beyond the scope of the E! channel.
CBC commentator Rex Murphy gained notice over the weekend with his call for protesters of all things Wall Street to extend their efforts to an “Occupy Kardashian” campaign.
“If greed's the target, and vulgarity a bonus, then Occupy Kim Kardashian,” he wrote this weekend in Canada’s National Post, in a clever, link friendly piece that’s making the Internet rounds.
But the “Occupy Kardashian” gimmick, part of a larger attack by Murphy on Hollywood excess, misses the point of a pointless show – and perhaps the purpose of a movement that’s been criticized for a lack of singularity in focus.
Kardashian and her ilk aren’t the evil faces of greed and vulgarity as much as a mindless, shallow escape from the kind of deeply ingrained problems wrought by large-scale greed and vulgarity. While they’re not our cup of froth, the Kardashians' overflowing success is a symptom of a pop culture gone awry and a media obsessed with celebrity – but hardly the cause of greater societal ills.
We’ve reached the strange point where, whatever else is going on in the world, two of the biggest stories of the moment are the Kardashian divorce silliness, and Occupy Wall Street. That’s also reflected in current-event driven satire: the two biggest laugh-getters in recent days, to our mind, are Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s visit to Zuccotti Park on “Conan” and the blistering “Saturday Night Live” takeoff on the Kardashian divorce saga.
We suspect that Kim Kardashian is closely following the coverage – and the spoofs – of her personal mess, if not the ongoing Occupy Wall Street story. She told The Journal last month she didn’t have an opinion about the movement.
When pressed, she offered a very un-Marie Antoinette-like answer: “I support their right to protest.”
The encampment at Zuccotti Park recently passed its 50th day, and whether it outlasts the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage remains to be seen. In the meantime, there’s plenty of blame being tossed around – from Wall Street to Canada to Hollywood. Maybe we just all need to keep our heads.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.