Kim Kardashian West's original vision for her 40th birthday was to take all her friends to a "Miss Wild and Wild" party in Wyoming, where her signature taupe belt would complement the rocky vistas. But as Kim said on a recent episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, "With COVID, I honestly don't feel like now is the time to celebrate." Too bad, but not a huge shame because his family always throws up a lavish surprise party at a Los Angeles studio. Ponies, like the ones she rode for her first birthday, lined up at the entrance to where attendees were being tested for coronavirus. The sundaes were served in a mock version of the restaurant where Kim partied when he was 8. Tao Nightclub, that hot palace of 2000s Patrón and EDM, has been recreated in miniature. "All my favorite people were there, all my best friends and my family," Kim told the cameras on E! after smiling in this ephemeral museum of his life. "And that's really all I needed."
However, that was clearly not all he needed. Meanwhile, the internet is well aware that Kim also turned 40 by taking dozens of people to a private tropical island. Attendees weren't told where they were going, but were told to quarantine in advance and pack their bags for fun in the sun and three fancy dinners. In late October, when an estimated 220,000 Americans had died from the coronavirus and 11 million were unemployed, Kim flooded social media with photos of beach banquets and boat trips. "I surprised my inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal for a brief moment," she wrote. "I realize this is unattainable for most people right now, so in times like these, I humbly remind myself of how privileged my life is."
The crowd quickly went into LOL rage mode. Social media users have combined Kardashian captions with images of cursed heavens: the Fyre Festival, a Game of Thrones wedding hall, a Midsommar ceremony, Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. Other reactions to Kardashian's vacation photos simply expressed hot insults. A tweet with 4,300 likes: "You know what would have been normal Kim? I don't need to FaceTime my mom while she's dying of COVID... It's cruel and senseless to rub it in our face. " Another tweet (from rocker Peter Frampton, who has certainly been reckless throwing parties): "Are you so insensitive that you don't realize this isn't what most people still want during the worst of times Covid spike? People are going on signs, not private islands."
The uproar, as with so many things Kardashian-related, was a bit of a mess that also seemed to point to something deep in our culture. Less than a week after Kim posted her photos, her sister Kendall Jenner faced backlash for hosting a 100-person Halloween birthday party at a West Hollywood bar. In one video, Kendall can be seen blowing out the candles on a cake held aloft by a masked waiter who appears to be turning his head away from his stream of drips. Shortly after, Kourtney Kardashian endorsed an unsubstantiated theory that surgical masks, a cheap and effective way to contain COVID-19, cause cancer. The impression had solidified: the Kardashians had proven that a certain type of celebrity was not suitable for the Corona era and could even be unfashionable in the Corona era.
Judgment could not come to a more appropriate family at a more appropriate time. If my! Announcing earlier this year that Keeping Up With the Kardashians season 20, which will premiere in 2021, would be the series' last, seemed to promise the end of an era. Since debuting the reality series in 2007, the Kardashians have pushed the influencer archetype, with their show serving as the flagship of a multimedia empire fueled by marital intrigue and skincare products. Today, the way millions of people dress, tweet, and shop has been influenced in some way by the Kardashians' innovations in beauty and self-expression.
However, the family could insist that their empire is not based solely on voyeurism and consumerism. Throughout, the Kardashians have maintained a patina of identification while conveying their worldly sibling feuds and romantic setbacks. Kim, in particular, has publicly lived an all-American, arguably feminist, transformational story: from humble fashion designer and gaping sex tape to awe-inspiring businesswoman and effective criminal justice activist. Other members of the Kardashian diaspora have become mascots for shifting social currents, whether it's Caitlyn Jenner's transition or Kanye West's Trump-era political meltdown. Unsurprisingly, the current season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians portrays the Calabasas clan as huddled and subdued by the coronavirus pandemic. But her pandemic party reveals the truth about Kardashian culture's dominance and its limits.
The first time the Kardashian family talked about the coronavirus on Keeping Up With the Kardashians was during an early 2020 dinner at Nobu, the famed sushi restaurant that offers $80 truffle and lobster platters and a bottle atmosphere offered in the club. Kim and her sister Kylie Jenner first negotiate who gets a lychee martini and who gets a mango martini. Kim then offers the whole family to go to Paris Fashion Week to see Kanye West's fashion show. The idea has been widely welcomed, but Kris, the family matriarch, has a question: "Wait, have you heard of this new virus?"
Keeping Up With the Kardashians season 19 is a completely goofy documentary about the pandemic tearing the lives of the rich and famous apart. Most of the Kardashians travel to Paris, but as her family friend Fajer Fahad says, "the vibes are off" thanks to the global pandemic. At home in Calabasas, Kourtney Kardashian's ex, Scott Disick, is feeling tired and worried the virus may be to blame. After a six-hour spa treatment and consultation with a specialist, he was diagnosed with low testosterone and should eat more pumpkin seeds. Two episodes later, Kris is confused when he sees Khloé walking around in a face mask. "What happened to our family?" Kris asks. "We're falling apart!" Khloé replies, "It's not our family; it's the world!
In fact, the show seems a little compromised with the idea that the Kardashians are like us when it comes to quarantine. roll your eyes to the side as a sign of fear or distraction. The show's schedule finally rolls through to mid-March, when California implemented a mandatory stay-at-home order and E! They disappear, as do visible cooks or maids. The Kardashians stick around to film their life on the iPhone, and the mood turns lukewarm. You watch video calls and are confused by the Zoom interface. They are running out of hand sanitizer and Cheetos. You get tested for coronavirus and are horrified that the results won't come in for 10 days.
Lockdown fits Kardashian's modern aesthetic in a way. Early in the series, the family's closets and decor reflected the cheesy, logo-encrusted trends of the late Bush era. Story-wise, the series thrived on the chaos of breakups, make-ups, booze, cheating, and fights. But by season 19, many of the main characters have settled into parenthood, family fashions have shifted toward maximum minimalism, and producers seem determined to cede the pursuit of juiciness and humiliation to the Real Housewives franchises. Keeping Up With the Kardashians now plays like a sparsely populated fish tank that you can enjoy with one eye on your phone. In fact, the Kardashians waste a lot of time playing harmless pranks on each other. "If we were all in quarantine, we'd be having so much fun," Kris said on the Nobu episode. Disick counters that they are already in quarantine.
Many viewers may also have sarcastically applauded being confined to domestic shenanigans in the early days of the pandemic. But every dizziness quickly turned into dread-laden boredom. This was the case of Khloé, who tested positive for coronavirus and then spent more than two weeks in her room. This bedroom is huge, and no matter how much her kimonos cost, she could probably afford a truckload of PPE. But as she coughs in bed and talks about the disappearance of her baby girl, who her ex keeps on the other side of her bedroom door, you get the feeling the show has captured some of the particular villains of this pandemic.
Kim's pandemic story concerns the struggle to care for her four children while Kanye, who has the coronavirus himself, is in quarantine. The young Wests burst in while their mother is trying to film makeup tutorials and Kim's patience is at an end. Even more alarming, Kim video chats with a group of college students about her prison reform work, her baby Chicago runs into the pool, and Kim has to scramble to catch her. Don't leave me alone," she said at one point. Although Kim's fame was never a serious matter, it's still remarkable to watch her take the risk of coming across as a cruel or neglectful mother in front of Of course, the satisfaction of seeing the Kardashians' made-up reality has always been finding out why the cast members chose to show you something, and in this case, the intent isn't hard to see. Childcare has been an unbearable challenge for many parents during house arrest.If the Kardashians want you to know that the pandemic has been difficult for them, they also want you to know that they know it has been more difficult for you.
By the way, that's also the message Kim was trying to get across when she posted the photos of her island. He went out of his way to acknowledge his "privilege" to be able to plan a celebration that is "so far out of reach for most people". However, his efforts to protect and justify himself only further angered his followers. Yes, the revelers have security measures in place; Yes, Kim donated money for pandemic relief. But on a fundamental level, the trip to the island yet to be part of Keeping Up With the Kardashians undermined the "we're all in this together" narrative that the family had been trying to convey. The episode about Kim's surprise party was based on the idea that, as she put it, it wouldn't be "fair" for her to host her dream vacation celebration during a global health crisis. What changed?