After just 72 days of marriage, Kim Kardashian, 31, is divorcing 26 year-old NBA basketball player Kris Humphries. The news came on Halloween. It’s rumored that Halloween has hired legal counsel and is considering suing Kardashian for defamation of trademark, charging that Halloween is supposed to be the scariest thing happening on Halloween.
Seventy-two days. And they say Gays threaten the sanctity of marriage.
I haven’t heard the official reason for the split, but I’m thinking in this case the usually issued “Irreconcilable differences” would be a step up.
The impending divorce is just the latest nonevent in the life of the Kardashians, an enterprising brood where the time-honored train wreck is not an anomaly but the thing; where the line between real and fake “reality” is so magnificently blurred that peering through Vaseline-coated glasses resembles 20/20 vision.
There were clues that this bit of unholy matrimony wouldn’t last (take) long–I mean clues besides the fact that when they married during a multimillion dollar E! TV special, the two hadn’t known one another longer than the life span of a gnat.
During an appearance the newlyweds made on “The Tonight Show” a few days ago, Humphries, who stands 6’9, told Jay Leno that his bride had admitted to him that “really tall men freak me out,” the way some people are afraid of clowns or domestic pets.
In turn, on Leno, Kardashian half-jokingly told her new husband he had habits “we” think are weird. Humphries asked who “we” is. “My sisters,” answered Kardashian. It didn’t exactly sound like two kids in love.
Apparently no one explained to Humphries that in marrying Kim, he wasn’t marrying an individual but an entire family.
A family where the mother, Kris Jenner, is a procuress who makes legendary 1950s pimp Iceberg Slim look like an Amway salesman; where the father, former Olympian Bruce Jenner, defies all medical science and logic by living the miracle of a physically active life–walking, running, sitting, etc.–all apparently without a spine.
Even having seen the show, Humphries, way out of his league, could not have truly grasped that he was marrying into an utterly shameless clan whose family business is the surreal, intuitive marketing of its own dysfunction, and that he, like everyone and everything that comes into the Kardashian universe, is bound to be exploited.
What’s left to sell? Kim Kardashian has literally sold her formidable ass, profiting handsomely from a sex tape. She has made her personal life a business commodity. The conspiracy of exploitation extends to the E! channel, where the Kardashian family shows are extremely successful and to the companies whose products the family peddles.
Mostly though, the Kardashians are facilitated in their madness by us, an equally dysfunctional public that watches the shows and buys the products and quietly revels in the notion that these people are as sick as we are.
They are us on steroids. Thus, in the proverbial three months (it’s always about three months, isn’t it?) you spent in what you deemed a “serious” relationship with a someone you don’t even really like, Kardashian has married, filed for divorce and moved on.
I don’t have cable, so I haven’t actually seen more than a few minutes of the Kardashian shows. But I live in L.A., where if you’re outside on a day when smog levels are low, you can actually smell the stench of those Kardashian productions.
You’d think it would disgust us to see ourselves in people so relentlessly driven by unmitigated, unchecked narcissism that they’d sell the molars out of their mouths. Instead, our lamentable kinship with what happens on the TV makes our gawk even more intense.
Indeed, it is our acceptance of this kind of behavior that created the cracked culture that makes it possible for someone like Sarah Palin to be taken seriously. Or for Taco Bell to declare, You damn right, it’s NOT one hundred percent beef, now come buy some more of this fake meat. Or for a family to mine a fortune from their on camera looniness.
Of course, there are those who say the Kardashians are crazy like foxes because their antics have made them rich. However, if all that dough bought true happiness, wouldn’t the Kardashians be starring in a very different kind of show?
Instead, take away the millions, the adulation and all that make-up and you’re left with a young, insecure woman on a very sad and public search for love. Kim Kardashian is positively enamored with the process of the almighty Search, but she obviously knows very little about the mechanics of a healthy relationship. Like many women (and men), she is seduced by the idea of romance-as-fairy tale, but keeps bumping into the grim and lonely reality of her incomprehension of it all. And no one in her circle knows any better. Or they do and simply aren’t willing to teach her.
Since Kardashian married a guy she knew for about five minutes, I presume it best, regardless of how it looks, that she cut her losses with a divorce.
But considering the millions Kim and Kris earned from the production of that wedding, in Kardashian World, the phrase “cutting your losses” is all relative.
Steven Ivory, journalist and author of the essay collection Fool In Love (Simon & Schuster), has covered popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio and TV for more than 30 years. Respond to him via [email protected].