Thursday, November 4, 2010

As my father used to say, “There’s nothing worse than yesterday’s newspaper.” But I can think of something: yesterday’s Metro newspaper.

In his “Just sayin’” column, Paul Sullivan devotes 400 words to the “Phenomenon of ‘fake’ celebrities.” Under that: “Who is Kim Kardashian and why is she famous?”

From there the reader is taken on a tour of Kardashian’s life, beginning with her ubiquity, the Rolls Royce she bought on her 30th birthday, the fragrances she endorses, until the columnist “decide[s] to find out who she is and what she is famous for.”

In the following paragraph, he writes: “ After extensive research, I can report with some authority: Nothing. Kim Kardashian is famous for nothing.”

And that’s a bad thing? Or more to point: Is this so unexpected in an age where publicity has supplanted critique? Where in-depth news reportage (“extensive research”?) is largely a thing of the past?

What drives Sullivan’s incredulity, aside from journalism’s addiction to polemic, is news that Kardashian wants to record an album. Has he heard her sing? No. At least not that he lets on. But that doesn’t stop him from writing: “There’s no talent for acting or singing.”

Why is Sullivan so down on Kim Kardashian? What has she ever done to him? One thing she has done is allow the columnist to reveal himself to be someone who does not care about anything other than generating a polemic.

For years now we have had people whose medium is the media itself (when I was a teenager it was Pia Zadora). What Sullivan is not communicating in his column (at least not directly) is how the media is being turned inside-out, from an ostensibly objective profession, one that delivers the news and brings cultural achievement to the fore, to something an artist like Kardashian can make meaning with.

So yes, the media is the medium, like pencils and pens, paint, cameras, computers and (thank you, Kim Kardashian and Paul Sullivan) performance.

Maybe this is something Sullivan might make meaning with as well. Or at least accept as his collaborative role. Anything less is just hatred.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michael

    Just discovered your blog here.....good stuff. Disturbing lack of comments though. These things can be much more fun when you start getting some anonymous slandering by the same 13 year olds that barbarize the youtube comments sections. I'll make a few comments on different subjects in the box under this post if that's alright with you.

    First off, I'll take Pia Zadora over Kim Kardashian anyday, her duet with one of the Jackson boys was alright wasn't it? I've seen Kim on the TV claiming she's a moralist etc. and condemning the same forces that sustain her. Isn't she famous for a sex tape and stuff like that in the first place? Also, I read she dedicated one of her products to the victims of the Armenian genocide and later threw a big coke party on Armenian Remembrance Day. Kim Kardashian needs a one way ticket to Turkey if you ask me. Also, I feel like I just lost 10 IQ points even talking about her.

    I read as far as your post on Houellebecq. I was excited when he came out and reading all the French critics stumbling over themselves to proclaim him the heir to the same literary legacy as Celine and such but I just can't see it. The man simply does not have the chops! Elementary Particles was so repugnant it made me want to take a shower every time I put it down. His essay on HP Lovecraft "Against the World, Against Life" is great though. It is a must read.

    Which brings me to my next comment about your "bad writing" post. I think a lot of contemporary writers could learn a lot from Lovecraft and not put so many pictures of themselves into the world. Nothing screams "Vanity writer" to me more than seeing an inordinate amount of pictures of the author accompanying anything they do. Case in point.......Sheila Heti, her picture is everywhere. I got 4 pages into "Ticknor" before depositing it in the garbage can. I bought this thing on Lee Henderson's recommendation. Next time, spare me the McSweeney's paste and just give me the 8x10 glossy of her face. Thankyou very much

    I have given Hendee boy a book I made to give to you

    PS: it's still better dead than red if you ask me but I'm a bit of brown shirt

    Shay S.