There’s more than a touch of irony – and hypocrisy – to the public’s angry reaction to Kim Kardashian’s announcement that she is divorcing Kris Humphries after only 72 days of marriage. Many fans felt duped – Was the dream wedding a sham, a ploy to boost ratings for the Kardashians’ E! reality show? “My wife is invested in this show,” Fox & Friends’ Eric Bolling told Kris Jenner this morning. “She falls in love with your family. She gets involved. When the wedding broke up after 72 days, she was, like, devastated, because people – they watch and they want to believe in you.”
People are actually upset – not because Kardashian is doing this to Humphries, but because she’s doing it to us.
We’re the real victims, goes this line of thinking. The Daily News, of all places, suggested a Kardashian boycott. But even though most dedicated Kardashian watchers have to concede that the shows have always felt manipulated, it’s those same fans who seem the most shocked by suspicions that the nuptials were a sham. These Pollyannaish folks have no one to blame but themselves. It’s 2011. We’re a solid two decades into the reality-television house of mirrors that distorts human interaction for mass entertainment. We’ve endured Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, and numerous editions of The Bachelor, yet somehow, this break-up seems to sting a little bit more.
Is it because Kardashian has been such a publicity hound from the moment she became famous with her sex tape? Or is it because the imminent divorce makes us feel stupid for caring in the first place? Jenner says that everything is legit – the marriage and the divorce – and that her daughter is in pain. If it were all about the money, she says, they’d be filming this ugly chapter in Kim’s life, which they’re not. (That’s not to say the next season of their show won’t edit together scenes depicting the crumbling marriage to maximize another blockbuster plotline.)
Even if everything about this affair is on the level, there remains a stench that might cloud Kardashian’s future. If you now believe that the wedding was a hoax, how can you possibly invest more time with these characters? Will you be there when the Kardashians come calling again? Will you shift your attention to even more outlandish reality figures, like Snookie or the next Bachelorette? Or might Kim Kardashian actually be reality’s Charles Van Doren, the quiz-show fraud that so disappointed a devoted public that it nearly killed an entire genre of television. One can only hope.
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