Social media newsfeeds and celebrity news platforms saw an inundation of press reporting on the eleven-million-dollar wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West this week. If you somehow managed to escape subjection to at least one photo of the couple that has gripped (what feels like) the attention of the world, then, kudos.
From articles about the guest list, to Kanye’s speech, right through to the likelihood of divorce being on the cards, Kimye’s wedding has been covered from all imaginable angles. But why the obsession? Are their lives really that remarkable?
While the Kimye marriage cost an inordinate sum of money, the overt media coverage it has been subjected to has cheapened it somewhat. As opposed to being the special union of two people who love each other it has been blown out of proportion and become a publicity stunt pandering to an eagerly awaiting audience. It was exactly what the audience expected: vast amounts of money splashed on elaborate yet cheap entertainment. The couple are fully aware of how the press will report on their wedding – quite simply, celebrity news sells.
Whilst celebrity coverage and social media websites such as Twitter, strive to shed light on the lives of celebrities such as Kim and Kanye, they appear to have become, paradoxically, all the more one dimensional. The fact that society will only ever see celebrities through TV screens, and now via phone or laptop screens scrolling through social media, means it isn’t an ardent insight into their lives; it is a mediated, fabricated image.
It isn’t just Kim and Kanye, TV channels are (and have been) dominated by so-called insights into the world of fame and luxury that range from, but aren’t limited to, X-Factor, Real Housewives, Cribs and Made In Chelsea. Creating the mentality that fame and living the good life, so to speak, are the ultimate goals we should be striving for, it tells us we haven’t made it until we have enough money to throw about carelessly.
It forges a much more self driven mindset upon financial goals and materialism as opposed to goals that are ultimately attaining something much more fulfilling. The age old idea that money isn’t the key to happiness and the best things in life are free is very much not the sentiment projected within celebrity TV shows and articles.
However, perhaps our culture of obsession with celebrities goes further than a mere form of escapism, envy and wish fulfilment. WhatCulture has written about how ‘we watch with morbid fascination as our modern gods and goddesses go bankrupt, have their relationships fall apart, and succumb to drug abuse. When you tune into the celebrity plight, most will take some joy in their misery.’ Perhaps then what we seek in reading about or watching celebrities is a form self-validation in the idea that those who appear to have everything are still subject to the same trouble and pain that any other person can be subject to. This then humanises overtly image comprised celebrities, and in turn de-humanises the insensitivity of those who watch with eager anticipation as their plights unfurl.
Articles based around estimations of the likelihood of divorce being on or off the cards for the newly wed couple evidences the insensitivity that is spurned from the envy of the lives of those vastly better off. It’s a shallow confirmation that grass is indeed not always greener on the other side.
While celebrity culture might be telling of the media, the press and their awareness of how controversy will sell, it is equally telling of society’s desperate consumption. And through the confirmation that money does not shield from pain, celebrity culture addicts thrive on revelations of false invincibility. Whilst the Kimye wedding obsession may externally appear to be escapism from a comparably mundane reality, in reality it is much more of a selfish enterprise.
As published on studentjournals.co.uk June 6 2014