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.