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A Case Study of the Show, Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s In Regards To the Influence of Famous Personalities to Society

In my final paper, I propose to explore Neal Gabler’s argument that “Celebrity Culture is Beneficial” using the reality television series, Keeping up with the Kardashian’s. Keeping up with the Kardashian’s is a reality TV show that follows the lives of Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe Kardashian; which primarily focuses on the Kardashian struggles, family, and business. I will be critiquing season 6 episode 9 of the show – “Talk to my Agent.” I will also find that reality TV is healthy to watch, and suggest that it educates us by close reading Neal Gabler’s argument. I will also further explore the community fandom angle with respects to show viewers, and their clothing line, Kardashian Kollection, as well as Kim Kardashian’s solo business ShoeDazzle. Nonetheless the reality TV show gives fans an extra-aesthetic satisfaction of entertainment.

I may argue that the reality television series educates it’s viewers on the importance of family. The Kardashian Klan heavily support one another when times are tough, and put an emphasis on spending time with siblings. For instance, in season 6 episode 9 “Talk to my Agent” where mother, Kris Jenner was taking on too many responsibilities at work, her daughters forced her to take time off and spend time with her family. Kris later admits that family is important and that she’s going to do it more often. In his article, “Celebrity Culture is Beneficial,” Neal Gabler says, “Like all good art, the best of them (celebrities) resonate with us because they provide us with life lessons or because they capture the cultural moment or because they give us a glimpse of transcendence or because they stimulate the imagination” (Gabler 33). The Kardashian Klan proves Gabler’s words to be credible based on the previous example.

What interests me most about Keeping up with the Kardashians (and the reason I chose to focus on them in this paper) is the adulation they receive by so many. I might find that their fan base is what actually keeps them going. In her book Keeping Up the Kardashian Brand: Celebrity, Materialism, and Sexuality, Amanda Scheiner McClain reports that “Keeping up with the Kardashians is the highest rated series ever on the E! cable network; it’s fifth season debuted with over 4.5 million viewers and ended with 4.7 million viewers tuning in for the season finale, a record for E!” (McClain 9). The show’s demographics consist of 18 – 49 year old women as mentioned in McClain’s book. She also found the reason the show performs so well is because “The public enjoys the aspirational intimacy,” (McClain 10) in other words fans and viewers have a desire to exist or be part of the Kardashian Klan. McClain also shares fan feedback; “…they are fun to watch and the family is relatable” (McClain 10). Relatability serves as a benefit for many reality TV shows.

It is enough to say that the success of Keeping up with the Kardashians led to the success of the Kardashian clothing line, Kardashian Kollection, as well as Kim’s solo investment, ShoeDazzle. Originally the sisters managed DASH boutiques, their very first business, in locations such as Calabasas (home to the first DASH boutique), New York, Miami, and L.A. In season 6 episode 9, it is the first time Dash Doll viewers were introduced to the idea of Sears investing in having the Kardashian Kollection at their department store. The spinoff turned out to be successful. Along with the increasing fame, and empire, the Kardashian Kollection appealed to UK’s Lipsy. At the launch of their clothing line, 50,000 visitors bought their glamourous pieces, and “within 24 hours of the eagerly-anticipated collection going on sale, many of the pieces had completely sold out” (HELLO!fashion 1). Aside from the sister’s success as one, Kim Kardashian cofounded ShoeDazzle back in 2009, it is now valued at $280 million. All of the Kardashian product lines offer affordability (Skrhak 2). I may point out that the Kardashian successes’ are a celebrity culture benefit for the Kardashian’s themselves as it proves to be a marginal benefit along the lines of their fans.

It seems that watching reality television is more beneficial than people think. In his article “Watching Your TV Diet,” David Roberts shares the research of Ms. Langcaster-James. Ms. Langcaster-James, a social psychology researcher, found that reality TV is a healthy genre and it should be part of your TV diet. Roberts quotes “According to Ms. Langcaster-James, I should be on more than two and a half hours” (Roberts 2). Ms. Langcaster-James found that watching reality television is beneficial … as it provides a good ‘talkability’ factor, improving social interaction. I may suggest that watching Keeping up with the Kardashian’s affects the social interaction of its viewers positively. I also may point out the reason being is because viewers can relate to reality versus a life that is written. In Keeping up with the Kardashian’s the Kardashian’s confront and overcome real life obstacles, and problems, such as Kim’s timidity of public speaking in season 6 episode 9. To overcome her fear she danced publically in a restaurant and told herself “sometimes you just have to let go to know what you’re really capable of.” Her actions seem to indicate that viewers can accomplish the same social interaction as well.

It’s possible I’ll discover that people will call reality television harmful, and not agree with it at all. “Is Reality Television Messing with Your Head?” by Scholastic Choices discusses the impact of reality television on teenagers. Scholastic Choices questions: “How realistic are these so-called reality shows? The production process starts the same way it does for most shows and movies — the wannabe stars audition” (Scholastic Choices, 12). Perhaps I’ll argue that some reality television stars are offered to be reality stars. It’s likely I’ll suggest that cameras are on 24/7 for reality television series so stars couldn’t possibly be acting. In Keeping Up the Kardashian Brand: Celebrity, Materialism, and Sexuality, McClain quotes Kourtney Kardashian as she described their shooting schedule as “eighteen hours per day, six or seven days a week” (McClain 9). Eighteen hours a day gives the Kardashian Klan only 6 hours a day to sleep. I may even explore the possibility that having cameras all around makes reality stars more inclined to be themselves since memories are recorded through pictures, and videos now in days.

I think it can be argued that Keeping up with the Kardashian’s is a healthy reality television series to watch, and celebrity culture is beneficial. No matter the absurd and inevitable problems the Kardashian’s seem to have, they always have moral support, from their family, and fans as do other reality TV stars.

Annotated Bibliography

Gabler, Neil. “Celebrity Culture is Beneficial”. In his article Gabler defends the term celebrity culture, by calling it beneficial. He speaks about why celebrity culture is not a problem. Some reasons include that they teach us the fundamental differences between the real and the false, as well as the meaningful and the meaningless. I am going to be using Gabler’s argument to support the actions of the characters. I may be suggesting that celebrity culture within reality television, besides entertaining, informs us.

McClain, Amanda Scheiner. Keeping Up the Kardashian Brand: Celebrity, Materialism, and Sexuality. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2014. Print. Amanda Scheiner McClain explores the Kardashian’s brand and celebrity via narrative analysis of their hit reality television series Keeping up with the Kardashian’s. Her insights cover subjects on American culture. I specifically will use her data component or show viewers in her introduction of ‘The Family Business’ to better show their community fandom angle in respects to numbers while also suggesting the fan base is a very big reason for their success.

Roberts, David. “Watching your TV Diet.” Northern Echo 24 November 2008. ProQuest. Web. David Roberts shares the research of Ms. Lang-caster James providing a new TV Diet. The diet reports the healthy amount of each TV genre one should intake on a daily basis. I plan on using the results of the research within the reality TV section and propose that social interaction in reality TV increases the social interaction of its viewers.

Skrhak, K. Shelby. “Keeping Up With Kim.” Success 8 January 2012. Web. K. Shelby Skrhak notably discusses Kim Kardashian’s successes, hence landing on January’s 2012 cover of success. She speaks about her celebrity endorsements and product lines with her sister klan and solo. I will primarily be focusing on Skrhak’s section of ShoeDazzle and use its value of $280 million to suggest that it’s grown with the Kardashian empire due to fame.

“Kardashian Kollection is a record-breaking success.” HELLO!fashion. Web. HELLO!fashion magazine brings the success of the Kardashian Klan’s post Kardashian Kollection launch at Lipsy UK. The article mentions the successful outcomes such as almost every item being sold out, and how the clothing line really translates who the Kardashian sisters are. I will be using these reasons exactly to help support the success of their clothing line. This will support celebrity culture and how it’s beneficial since it benefits fans and the Kardashian’s themselves.

“Is Reality TV Messing with Your Head?” Scholastic Choices November/December 2012. Vol. 28 Issue 3, p12-17. EBSCOhost. Web. The article focuses on the effects of reality TV on teenagers. The article is trying to deduce if reality TV is actually manipulative based on those effects. I choose to focus on the question of whether celebrities are just smoke and mirrors or if they’re intentions are genuine. I plan on arguing against the articles claim.

“Talk to my Agent.” Keeping up with the Kardashian’s. E!: Entertainment Television. Calabasas. 14 August. 2011. Television. This episode specifically follows Kim’s fear of publically humiliating herself, the public aspect being very ironic. She does not know how to dance and is afraid of speaking in front of a lot of people. Additionally Kris Jenner gets mad at Scott Disick for playing a practical joke. I’m using Kim as an example to relate her to her fans and suggest that this is all the realistic part of the show. She will serve as a lesson; her motivation to overcome her fear is a realistic. This is all very beneficial to the viewers.

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