How Did Kim Kardashian Get So Popular?

Glen Francis
Glen Francis

The first thing I remember learning about reality star juggernaut Kim Kardashian is that she enjoyed getting pissed on. In her sex tape, Kim Kardashian: Superstar, which was “illegally” released in 2007 by Vivid Entertainment, there were rumors of a golden shower scene between Kim K. and Ray-J — R & B superstar Brandy’s younger brother — in which Kim willingly gets peed on by Ray J’s monstrous penis. Do you remember that? Do you remember that Kim Kardashian, America’s Sweetheart, first entered public consciousness via urine-soaked sex with an F-list celebrity?

No. Of course you don’t. Because her mother, Kris Jenner, has stolen all of our memories of the event and replaced them with images of a concerned and empathetic Kim Kardashian visiting a children’s cancer ward instead. She may’ve first became relevant through sex but as soon as Kim Kardashian got her foot in the door, she switched the narrative on us. All of a sudden, we weren’t dealing with just another one of Paris Hilton’s promiscuous party girl friends. We were being introduced to the Princess Di of the new Millennium.

The hilarious thing about Kim’s sex tape is that a golden shower scene doesn’t even exist. We were duped, led to believe that we were going to watch a video that was taboo and scandalous, but ended up just being another bland sexcapade with someone we were vaguely familiar with. Kim never even took her bra off during sex — which felt like the ultimate fuck you to horny viewers anywhere.

It makes sense though, given everything that’s happened with the Kardashians, that we would be fooled. In many ways, it feels like Kim Kardashian’s popularity has been one agonizingly long magic trick. We don’t know where she came from, how she got here, but we do know that she intends on staying. In an age of fickle celebrity tastes, Kim Kardashian — the ultimate non-descript bland superstar — has managed to outlive all of her contemporaries. How? How the hell did someone with zero personality and charisma manage to captivate our hearts and gain 17 million Twitter followers in the process? (Paris Hilton, Kim’s ex-BFF and someone she clearly modeled her career after, only has 9 million followers by comparison.)

One of the keys to maintaining her relevancy is obviously her family. While Paris was always surrounded by people who had the personality of a starfish (excluding Nicole Richie), Kim was smart and used the entire Kardashian brood to help boost her star power. Historically, in TV shows, the supporting characters are always more interesting and zany than the lead stars, and the same holds true for Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Khloe Kardashian has more VA-VOOM in one shoulder pad than Kim has in her entire body. Similarly, watching the relationship between Xanned-out Valley girl Kourtney Kardashian and her American Psycho significant other, Scott Disick, has been more engrossing than any of Kim’s relationships.

But an engaging and highly-rated reality show isn’t enough to catapult you to the levels of fame Kim Kardashian has reached. There has to be more at play here, something that keeps pushing her further and further up the fame ladder.

Enter Kris Jenner — a woman who has taken the title of “Momager” and turned it into an insanely lucrative albeit morally questionable career. Besides earning a 10% manager fee off of all her daughters, Kris has also brought in big bucks herself via appearance fees and her own endorsement deals. Simply put, this woman has made more money on her vagina and the people who came out of it than anyone else has. Somewhere, Dina Lohan is probably fuming that she gave birth to such a bad investment.

A smart fame trajectory, savvy handlers, a constant barrage of reality shows that ensures no one will ever forget about you: okay, okay, Kim Kardashian, I’m on to your game. But something still doesn’t add up. How did someone with a tedious sex tape and a cheap show on E! end up on the cover of W‘s art issue?

I have some theories. For one, America lovessss getting personally invested in families and the Kardashians, for all extents and purpose, have now become our version of a royal family. Secondly, the Kardashians, with their blatant famewhoring and constant oversharing, are a perfect fit for the Information Age. They gleefully provide us with the access we desperately crave but so rarely get from other celebrities. Anywhere we want to go with Kim, Khloe, and Kourtney, they’ll take us there. They don’t give a shit. Nothing embarrasses these freaks. Nothing. It’s beneficial for them to share every disgusting detail of their lives with us.

On a certain level then, I guess I get every aspect of the Kardashian empire except for one thing: Kim. Try as I might, I don’t think I will ever understand how the least-compelling “character” out of the family has acquired the most popularity. Kim is boring. She’s almost impressively basic. She may actually be the # 1 basic bitch. So why do we continue to care so much about her every move? Like, why am I supposed to give two shits about Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s baby? I get fatigued just thinking about it. The only remotely entertaining thing about it is that Kim, after all these years, finally landed herself an A-lister. In fact, she may even be considered an A-lister herself now. From golden showers to baby showers, she’s successfully won the fame game, becoming the most celebrated person for doing nothing. I suppose that achievement alone makes her interesting. Almost. TC Mark

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