Since their rise to fame in 2007 “The Kardashians”, yes it is a brand, have either been loved or loathed by society. Even Obama has been critical of Kimmy, Kourt, and Khlo for being poor influences on children. He has a point, episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) range in topic from Kim crying because she dropped a $50,000 ring in the ocean, to Khloe getting arrested for drinking whilst driving, and it seems as if with all this going on they have little time to discuss the current Ukrainian situation. However, despite this seeming disapproval of The Kardashians they do have a loyal following. Kim has 21.5m followers on Twitter, that is more than the populations of Greece and Portugal combined. Furthermore, the family as a collective is worth more than $80m. The issue here is that, whilst they do provide senseless television and incentivise the female population to gym, tan and shop excessively, this is a self-perpetuating issue in society: The more society continues to watch, stalk and criticise The Kardashians the more successful and popular they become. What needs to happen in order to unhinge the human population from such detrimental forces is to simply look away, and not give them the celebrity and attention that they do not deserve.
This is similar to the craze for mass shootings and lone terrorism that occurs in American society. America’s gun laws are difficult for people in England to understand because there is no codified constitution here, but it is their right in ‘Murica to have a firearm. The issue with this is that guns and bullets are readily available in the US to the extent that mass shootings ranging from the horrors of Columbine to the stupidity of Elliot Rodgers occur. This links to The Kardashian obsession because, rather than giving no celebrity to these murderers, the news agencies saturate the headlines with profiles of the killers, medical records showing their mental instability and even print their manifestos. By doing this they fuel a nation’s obsession with such and dangerously inspire others to emulate these crimes. This is not only in America though. The Norwegian summer camp shootings, within which almost 70 people were killed, gained excessive amounts of coverage. Yet, this coverage was not as focussed on the victims, as it was on Anders Breivik who was the right-wing killer supposedly carrying out what God had ordered him to do. 170 media organisations covered the proceedings of his trial and his 1,500 page manifesto was published online. The fault here lies in the amount of celebrity a killer was given. Rather than being shamed he, knowing the world’s cameras were focussed on him, gave fist salutes and was given time to explain his ideology. By providing Breivik with so much attention he was able to inspire some to his radical and dangerous beliefs, and revel in his “glory”.
This is, however, worse in America. The recent Seattle Pacific University shootings’ killer was inspired by other events like Columbine. The fact that Columbine was turned into a media-saga that was watched worldwide is something that we should not be proud of. It provides the opportunity for glorifying people who have committed terrible crimes, and by glorifying such this can lead to inspiring others to achieve similar “glory”. There are television stations, for instance Crime Investigation, who stream murder shows throughout the day, and in fact currently have a special series called “Serial Killers Week”. These stations provide biographies of killers, explaining their motives, their lives and, usually, their mental instability. On the one hand these shows highlight the societal problems that may have driven the murderers, yet they also fuel this obsession and blurring of violence and fame. We live in a society that not only accepts said violence as a norm, but also gets dangerously excited by such. News agencies see these catastrophes with dollar signs and the public, whilst expressing sadness for the victims, cling to each piece of information that is received. This information can be as specific as how the killer may have entered the building and what type of guns they used.
The American coverage also delves deeply into the past of these murderers in order to highlight their poor background and instability, rather than truly questioning their gun laws. Whilst there may be a paragraph at the end of these pieces on the need for gun law reform, the headlines will not focus on the white elephant in the room but rather sensationalise the fact this murderer was bullied, depressed or mentally unstable. This may be a cynical analysis of the news coverage but there is some validity to it. Last week a married couple went on an ill-advised shooting spree in Las Vegas. Rather than questioning how readily available guns were to these people, the news has focussed more on the couple’s determination to overthrow the government and install white supremacy. Whilst it is interesting to think about how they thought that opening fire in a pizza restaurant would lead to the end of democracy in America, the death of police officers and the rigidity of America’s gun laws should be the highlight rather than giving unnecessary fame to murderers.
There is, however, light at the end of this dark and bloody tunnel. It comes from the land of maple syrup and, more importantly, intelligence. Canada is paving the way in reducing this glorification of murderers. The Sun News Network, not owned by Rupert Murdoch, refrained from giving the fame desired by a recent shooter by simply stating the details of the incident without naming him or beginning to devour his background. This is the way that these crises should be handled, with greater emphasis on compassion for the victims at the expense of excessive analysis of these criminals.
And so, akin to The Kardashians, it is important to not add fuel to what is already a burning flame by glorifying people who do not deserve it. However, this should not only happen because they do not deserve this fame, but also because their fame can incentivise some in society to idolize and desire to emulate such.
I write this as a recovering Kardashian addict.