The World’s Worst Role Model?
August 6, 2012
By: Josh Emmett
What exactly is a role model? Generally, they are considered to be a person who many aspire to be, or whose traits are desired and admired. Role models often appear larger than life, and are portrayed as a positive figure in the public eye; they are seen as a beacon of upstanding morality and a good example of a solid lifestyle. Their pursuits are endorsed and called outstanding. If a woman had achieved worldwide fame from a sex tape, what kind of message does that send out? If a woman spends $10 million dollars on a wedding that lasts 72 days, can that be interpreted as a positive lifestyle? I am referring, of course, to Kim Kardashian, who was the focus of a scathing tirade from Dr. Helen Wright, headmistress of prestigious St Mary’s School. Her comments come as a response to one particular men’s magazine, who branded Kardashian as the ‘hottest woman in the world.’ Dr. Wright’s response was furious, saying ‘Is this what we want young people to aim for? Is this what success should mean to them?’ I have to agree with her.
On the face of it all, Kim can be considered something of a miracle worker. She has attained a level of fame few people achieve in their lifetime, and accrued a vast fortune in the process. This has all been achieved despite having no real discernable talent to speak of, other than attention-grabbing promiscuity. Kim is the second of three daughters of the late Robert Kardashian, who is perhaps best known as the defence lawyer of O.J Simpson during his infamous murder trial. Her initial fame sprung from maxing out Daddy’s credit card during the day and partying at night, earning her the friendship of fellow socialite Paris Hilton. It was around this time that the infamous sex tape was released, in which she co-starred alongside rapper Ray J. This attracted huge fame, particularly from the male audience. Through extraordinary coincidence, she was offered an opportunity to create her own reality TV show just a few weeks after her sex tape. By endorsing her self-indulgent television pursuits and plastering her face onto every glossy publication, by extension Kim Kardashian is herself endorsed. Let us be fair to her, after achieving her initial success, she exploited her fame well and expanded into the fashion industry by releasing her own clothing brand. She has also created her own perfume line, and appeared in television shows other than her own. Her ‘initial success’ however, is what she is perhaps most known for, and it would appear that Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have together defined the path to success; get a sex tape going, and start up a TV show.
Aged 31, Kim has been married and divorced twice, which is a fairly solid record. Her first elope came aged 19 when she married Los Angeles Record Producer Damon Thomas, who in a recent statement was highly complimentary, claiming that she was a ‘lying, cheating, surgery-loving fame-whore.’ Quite surprisingly, they lasted three years. Subsequent romantic involvement included R&B singer Ray J, NFL star Reggie Bush and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin. Her carousel of romantic links culminated with a marriage to NBA basketball Kris Humphries of the New Jersey Jets in August 2011. The whole ceremony was engineered for maximum publicity, with a two-part TV special showing the wedding airing on American television. The entire ceremony cost a staggering $10 million, and lasted for a total of just 72 days. If we are to be slightly cynical here, this equates to just under $140,000 a day. Prudent spending.
Interestingly, several news outlets claimed that Kardashian’s marriage was simply a publicity stunt to promote the Kardashian family and their subsequent television exploits, a claim supported by her former publicist. Whilst Kardashian denies this, the fact that this was even suggested demonstrates the perception that Kardashian is perpetually searching for fame and wealth. Is this kind of behaviour really what women should aspire to?
There is, however, a very strong case to argue that Kardashian is simply famous for being famous. A major problem with consistency arises when we consider a girl who can be considered a polar opposite of Kardashian. Does anyone remember Gail Trimble? For those who do not, Trimble was the young woman who represented the University of Cambridge on University Challenge in 2009 and demonstrated extraordinary knowledge when answering questions. Instead of being praised for her clear intellect and talent, she was slaughtered in the media for being an insufferable know-it-all, her appearance was mocked and her intelligence was entirely ignored. It’s this kind of dichotomy that suggests that women should not aspire to follow and praise the talents of an intelligent young woman, but should rather neglect said talent in favour of appearance and less moral pursuits. I’m not saying that Kardashian is a cruel or truly bad person; I obviously don’t know her personally. But her fame ultimately derives from a certain promiscuous act, and her overwhelming emphasis on her appearance rather than any discernable talent is not the blueprint for the perfect role model.