Kim Kardashian might at first seem an odd topic for Disinfo, but for a moment indulge yourself in a healthy amount of skepticism. I ask you to avert your eyes from the PR stagecraft being performed on her public. I want you to see how Kim’s recent jewelry heist is a perfect example of how a public campaign sculpts opinions and behaviors of a targeted audience.
If you distill everything down from all of the noise, Kim Kardashian is a branding quantity that needs an audience for the point of advancing her product. That product, Kim Kardashian, is at an important juncture in her public life. As I’m sure we’ve all heard, Kim is coming off a robbery heist in Paris. Whether I think it was real or not is something I’ll leave out. What I will say it that even if the caper was genuine, it’s only enhancing her prospects for a second act. Right now the younger Kardashians are making all the headlines. They are the ones that TMZ is obsessing over. They are the barely legal mavens that are next up on the big stage of…well I don ‘t know what any of them actually do, but they are the ones that are going to do whatever that is. Kim on the other hand, her star was kind of fading, which is natural for a public figure imprisoned in the mold of youth culture. It doesn’t help that her husband is such a moron he loses fights with stop signs. I don’t know what her internal numbers are, but I’m sure she has tapped her demo audience, which is also growing up and probably moving on. Unless she wanted to go the route of Paris Hilton and fade to relative obscurity, she needed something to transition her to a second act, something to get her to a new image. A clean break is always desirable when repurposing your public image, but the baggage of your first act can be a hard thing to shake. Especially if you want to appeal to a more mature audience – like the daytime talk show crowd, for example. I wouldn’t say being robbed and terrified is a fortuitous event by any means. Nor would I wish that on any person. But, it happened. And because it happened, it now gives Kim a new weapon in her fading arsenal of public magic tricks: sympathy. Never underestimate how powerful that is. The robbery of Kim Kardashian has captivated the media into a new mode of coverage and muzzled many detractors. How can you say anything bad? The woman was ball-gagged and stuffed in a tub. With her pause from social media, and really any media, it gives time for a reset. Not only that, the anticipation could build over her next public outing. Could it be a big interview that highlights her struggles to overcome the ordeal? Who knows? What I do know is that this latest chapter has washed away most of the old baggage. This pause has given her time to plot another chapter.
Rebranding yourself is common in the entertainment industry. For musicians it’s commonplace and is really a requirement if you want to leap from decade to decade. Those that refuse are left to do a perpetual cycle of greatest hits tours. Right now Lady Gaga is attempting a rebranding. She is also trying hard to make the perilous leap from music to movies. Good luck. If the queen of rebranding, Madonna, never actually made the successful leap to film, I don’t hold high hopes for Lady Gaga.
With Kim Kardashian we could be in the middle of a mega reality stars attempt at rebranding. Because what are reality shows? What are reality stars? Everything about what they allow you to see is the show. They create an illusion about the daily in and outs of whatever minor bullshit they can find themselves into. Kim Kardashian projects a version of her life. That’s the show, so why should this episode be any different? The medium changed and the content changed. Only something traumatic and off limits like a real crime could so effectively rearrange the dynamic trajectory of her career in a condensed period of time. I’m assuming the crime was real. Given that, it has definitely given Kim a major chance to sculpt her image into an infinite number of things.
I’m fascinated by PR and stagecraft. I love the idea of the public’s natural ability to accept things at face value. Reality shows guide viewers through this alternative version of life. In time these shows have changed along with their audience. They have become bigger than their intended formats in many ways. Reality shows have really outgrown the common hybrid of social media and TV. They now spill over the imaginary lines of real and not real. It’s the completion of Andy Warhol’s vision of 15 minutes. The robbery period we are in with Kim adds substance and a new level of international intrigue. Life imitating art, imitating life is a fine goal for a PSYOP designed to distract and persuade. Round and round until her fans become so dizzy they fall through the looking glass.
Where will it end? I don’t know, because I’m not sure any of this even happened.