Friday, January 13, 2012

The Age of Kardashian

The ubiquitous Kim Kardishian is in the news for apparently no longer being newsworthy.
Everything the reality family touches turns absolutely toxic — with party promoters, magazine editors and television execs all scrambling to blacklist them, insiders told The Post. 
Ratings for the family’s reality show have plummeted, sales of magazines with Kim Kardashian’s mug go unsold, and her products are unmarketable, insiders say.
The writer opines that her fall from grace stems from her publicity-stunt marriage to New Jersey Net's forward Kris Humphries, which afforded those who consume celebrity objects only 72 days of vicarious thrills.  The disappointment was simply too much to bear for a public expecting years of virtual wedded bliss in Kim's nuptial bed.  

In consequence, her stock price is cratering.  Noman wonders, however, if there isn't another explanation for this newsless piece of information.  

Last month, William McGurn penned a routinely masterful opinion piece entitled "Taxing Kim Kardashian."
It's not her split from Mr. Humphries only 72 days after their wedding, which raised questions about whether the marriage was simply one big publicity stunt. Nor was it the earlier sex tape that earned her celebrity and riches. Only a prude would object to that. 
No, Ms. Kardashian's sin is this: She pays what she owes in state taxes under California law, instead of the much larger amount that some self-appointed advocacy group thinks she ought to be paying.
The organization is called Courage Campaign and its website reveals it to be a California mélange of activist groups and labor unions. In a video that presents Ms. Kardashian in some of her more conspicuously consumptive moments, Courage Campaign claims that while Ms. Kardashian made more than $12 million in 2010, she paid only one percentage point more in taxes (10.3%) than a middle-class Californian (9.3%). 
"That's not OK," says Campaign Courage. And in their video, they get right to the point, calling on viewers to "Ask Kim to support the millionaires tax of 2012." 
Ms. Kardashian has become wealthier than a Pharaoh by encouraging the public to lust for her.  And while the public is only too willing to engage in this contemporary form of everyday idolatry, the Left sees depravity only in her greed manifest by her not paying more in taxes.

It doesn't see enough.  Greed is of a piece; it is the glue sealing the bargain between consumers who shower human objects with loot in return for absorbing every last detail of their fleshy lives, and the commodified celebrities who court the bargain to their own detriment.  (Ask Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan.)  

If more people read Aquinas, they would know of the intimate connection between lust and greed, both of which are capital vices.  Both inflame human passions and overwhelm practical reason--deliberation, judgment and choice.  

Prudence flees, conscience is occluded, where lust and/or greed take root.  Consequently, neither lust nor greed are sins that a rational culture encourages to fester, let alone nurtures, in its bosom.

Where you find glossy magazine covers and video screens filled with images of relatively talentless women strutting about as lusty confections to be consumed--like bon-bons on high heels--you necessarily find lust.  

Conversely, you won't necessarily find greed wherever you find wealth--a condition that need not automatically lead to conspicuous consumption.

Ironically, the Left decries wealth, while it forces pornography and sexual corruption onto the culture, and thus onto everyone, under the guise of a right.  The fact that people like Kim Karadashian dominate the public's notice has everything to do with the Left's appropriation of media and legal culture.

With respect to tax lust:  
It's tempting to dismiss this campaign as the work of a bunch of California crazies. The problem is that its assumptions about wealth and taxes extend far beyond the Golden State. Indeed, they have calcified into an orthodoxy that defines the Democratic Party.  
[Believers] will not be swayed because they are not being driven by their economics. They are being driven by their conception of immorality: the idea that millionaires have more than they should—and that any wealth they have is not something they have earned but something the state has allowed them to keep. 
It says much about the progressive Puritanism of our age that what these folks really find most sleazy about Ms. Kardashian is not her sex tape or her marriage, but that she's unembarrassed about making money. 
Many years ago in these pages, Irving Kristol famously wrote that the liberal paradigm "has led to a society where an 18-year-old girl has the right to public fornication in a pornographic movie—but only if she is paid the minimum wage." Today, women like Ms. Kardashian make much more money exercising that right. The only question progressives ask is about the size of the government's cut.

A Journal reader in Massachusetts retorts:
If every American had ready access to the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter and health care—no one would justly begrudge a millionaire as rich as Croesus. 
But in reality, thousands of sick, poor and disabled Americans lack such basic sustenance, while a tiny fraction of the population possesses most of the nation's wealth. That, Mr. McGurn, is what is morally repugnant to the liberal conscience.
Noman's conservative conscience also recoils at the specter of thousands of Americans, and millions of people around the world, lacking ready access to the basic necessities of life.  He scoffs, however, at the risible suggestion that increasing taxes in order to pay off Democratic constituencies for their fealty will do one whit to resolve this problem.

If providing succor to the poor, and not Statism, were the true motive of Liberal belief and action, then they would join with Conservatives in cause to strengthen families (procreative ones) and churches.  These institutions protect and fortify the person with love, care and material sustenance necessary to develop habits of self-sufficiency, become sensitized in a practical manner to the needs of others, avoid poverty in the first place, and recover should they fall into it.  

Yet, Liberals routinely attack family and church, arrogate their roles, and enlarge the State's dominion through programs to address the problems created by their intentional diminution.

Liberals would join with conservatives to deter, rather than foment, addictions to sex, drugs and rock & roll--addictions that reduce far too many to a feeble crust, a pathetic semblance of a person.

This genuine solicitude for the poor, for human dignity, would promptly end the political conflicts that roil the nation and prevent its unified advance towards the common good.  Liberals don't want to end the cultural degradation, however, which results in the very poverty they brandish as exhibit A in their hall of self-justification.  

If there were no poor, beholding or dependent, what excuse would Liberals have for raising taxes and creating a massive state that operates according to the rules of patronage rather than the inhospitable ones of performance?  Who would vote for them?  

There is a reason people quip that Liberals love the poor so much that they strive to create more of them.

Finally, Liberals would join cause with Conservatives to strengthen the capitalist system (as opposed to ideology), which produces wealth and provides opportunity for more people to achieve higher standards of living than have ever before been deemed possible.  

They would acknowledge that for the sake of combatting poverty-inducing addictions, not everything should be marketable, e.g., pornography, sex, drugs.  They would desist in proposing high-tax, low-freedom solutions that perpetuate the problems that ostensibly motivate Liberal compassion.

Noman is weary of figments like Kim Kardashian who are thrust onto his consciousness to separate him from his conscience, wits and money.  The endless parade of celebrity vixens served up for public consumption sadly reminds him that consumers and consumed alike are fallen.  

OK, the woman looks good.  Beyond that, is there any other reason to notice her, let alone incessantly?

If McGurn is right, then her toxicity problem can easily be solved.  All she needs is to be photographed and make appearances with Warren Buffet on behalf of higher taxes.  

She can praise the virtues of government compassion, and perhaps adopt a PC cause, like Mark Zuckerberg did with the paradigmatic government boondoggle: Newark's notoriously troubled public schools.  That was sufficient to deflect concerns over Facebook's systemic disregard of privacy concerns.

NGO activists would stop conspiring with media activists and the nasty articles would stop.  If today's goddess of gloss genuflected obeisantly enough to the political correctness that makes and breaks her, she might even get glowing coverage for her humanitarianism.

Aside from her temporary problems, however, people and society should be concerned about the never ending media barrage clutching at the human soul from the grocery store line to one's living room.  
“I’m bored with them,” said Manhattan publicist R. Couri Hay, who organized paid Kardashian visits to clubs in 2008 and 2010. Now, he said, he wouldn’t dream of promoting “Kim Kardashian and her little clunky sisters.”
Noman is bored with them, too.  And, he's never even seen their (or any) TV reality show.  He knows too much about the observer effect, and seen to many women strut their stuff for a spontaneous audience, to think that such a thing is possible. 

1 comment:

  1. And that's the way it should be. These girls are nothing more than high profile prostitutes. They've sold themselves, their nudity, their flesh for monetary gain and risque notoriety. Their 'business' is just low-level opportunism. They have taught our youth and our society nothing of value, except how NOT to live your life. I hope they sink from the scene into the ignominy they deserve.