Sunday, 26 June 2011
Deep into the K-hole
Don't worry, this is scary for me too. I don't want to be doing this. I'd happily live my life in blessed ignorance. But I was asked to review a reality TV show, and I'm nothing if not a man of my word. Having written recently about the psychological dangers of reality TV, I'm concerned that these ridiculous, vapid excuses for entertainment are going to render me incapable of cogent thought. And yet here I am, ready to cast a critical eye over the newest season of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
I've never watched the show before. But somehow, I know who they are. Maybe it's the fact that they're regularly featured in the tabloids and are all over the gossip sites. I know that Kim's currently showing off an engagement ring that makes Kate Middleton's look like a factory second from Ratners. And thanks to Mail Online, I know that Kourtney recently went out for lunch in some wedge shoes. This is some fascinating stuff. The title of the show is misleading - Keeping Up With The Kardashians has me imagining the raven-haired siblings being tracked by a slobbering pack of hunting dogs. Sadly, the reality is much more mundane. The best we can hope for is a peek into the crazy chaos of life on the A-list.
The Kardashians would be the first to admit that their notoriety has little to do with any discernible talent, beyond an alarming capability for self-promotion. They've become one of the most famous families in America thanks to the grasping ambition of monstrous matriarch Kris Jenner. As the head of a family of fame whores, she's less of a mother and more of a madam. She sets their hourly rates and tells them not to kiss on the mouth. Kris was already in talks back in 2007 to turn her family's day-to-day existence into a reality show, when suddenly Kim shot to fame thanks to the fortuitously timed release of a sex tape that showed her suppressing her gag reflex with R&B singer Ray J.
Thankfully, Kris is an optimist, as well as an opportunist, so she decided to make the most of the situation, "All I knew was that I had to make some lemonade out of these lemons fast. Real fast..." A more accurate aphorism might be "When God gives you a facial, make face cream". Anyway, she believes her "...job was trying to take my kids' 15 minutes and turn it into 30." And if you wanted to see the full thirty minutes, you had to pay Vivid Video for the privilege.
Coincidentally, Kim settled for a $5 million payout from the wily distributors, making her the highest paid actress in Hollywood, at least in terms of on-screen minutes. Meanwhile, 'Keeping Up...' was launched and became an instant smash, even notching up a number of spin offs. Along the way, the girls have also found time to open clothing boutiques in New York, Miami and California, written a biography called 'Kardashian Konfidential', and launched a gaudy range of homeware under the heading 'Kardashian Kollection'.
So here we are at the start of Season Six, and this is my first real brush with the Kardashian Klan, even though I've already used the 'K' key so much that my laptop thinks I'm a white supremacist. Seeing the sisters together is a slightly confusing experience. There's no denying that Kim is stunning, like a trampier version of Nicole Scherzinger. But the rest of the girls are a little, well, off. When they all sit around a dinner table for some 'family time', it's reminiscent of the scene in Alien Resurrection when Ripley is confronted with all the aborted experiments at cloning her from a DNA sample. Khloe, for instance, looks like a caricature of Kim, sketched onto a soup ladle.
I'd like to give you a blow-by-blow account of what transpired during the show's frenetic 22 minutes, but I'm utterly bewildered about what just happened. We saw Kim and her new boyfriend belch in each other's faces, Khloe defending the shortness of her dress by saying "But it's not like you can see my asshole", and the sisters arguing over how long it would take them to fill a salad bowl with piss. Between these highbrow moments, the family bickered over how little they see each other, only to spend any time they did get together as a family arguing or checking their Blackberries.
Despite their protests that she's all work and no play, Kris defends herself by saying "I'm working hard right now so that I can set them up for the rest of their lives. My business is their future." Even if 'business' amounts to little more than sitting in a lavishly furnished office watching YouTube, or hiring a woman called Palm to get her daughters' names wrong.
Khloe and Kim are also bickering, because the former hasn't embraced the latter's new boyfriend, complaining "I don't know how I'm supposed to invest emotionally in Kris." You and me both. At one point, Kim freaks out that Khloe still has pictures of Kim's previous boyfriends in her home, asking rhetorically "You think I want to come over and see pictures of my exes?" It's a silly question, when everyone knows she prefers videos.
By the time we get to the big family dinner, there's another three K-words sitting around the dining table. I'm not sure but I think their names are Kickbox, Krispykreme and Klamydia. Even though the show is barely twenty minutes long, I feel utterly exhausted. I don't know what just happened, but I know that I'm stupid for having sat through it. I think I've finally reached critical mass where reality TV is turned. Let's pray that somewhere out there is a King Canute figure, who will simply raise his hand and turn this tsunami of effluence in its tracks, before I start ruining my own salad bowls.