'Kimye' on the cover of Vogue: Why do we reward lack of character?
Let the criticism and shade commence.
After Anna Wintour unveiled the April cover of Vogue many took a collective sigh and then went on about their day.
Many critics however, took to comment sections, the Twitterverse and blogosphere to unleash their disdain at Wintour’s choice of ‘Kimye’ as her April cover stars.
I could care less if Kimye is on the cover of Vogue, to be honest. Kim has a great stylist and enough money to buy prestige and entrance into the right parties, fashion shows and the like.
What is frustrating however is Wintour’s letter or rather defense of her cover choice. She gushed over Kanye’s talents, which no one can dispute–love him or hate him Kanye is an amazing talent. Sure, he needs interview coaching and better articulation of his sometimes times thoughtful points. Kanye deserves accolades, but I take serious issue with Wintour’s suggestion that Kim exhibits some “strength of character” that makes her cover-girl worthy.
Have we forgotten what strength of character actually means?
Anita Hill, whose documentary on the Supreme Court hearings and whose testimony brought the term sexual harassment into our lexicon, exhibits strength of character. Ellen DeGeneres, who paved the way for so many to come out, lost her job over being openly and unapologetic gay and then rebuilt her career on her own terms, displays strength of character.
Lupita Nyong’o sharing the pain she felt growing up as a dark-skinned girl until she finally saw images of herself reflected back at her, and then using her platform to inspire other girls, demonstrates strength of character. Even Khloe Kardahsian, who stood by her husband and tried to help him battle his demons, all while the cameras rolled, exhibited strength of character. Kim does not.
What the world knows about Kim is that she rose to fame through a sex tape, married a man for 72 days, and until recently was the girl in the tight bandage dresses riding the coat tails of celebrity friends. Other than having a big butt and a smile, she has no actual talent—well, other than nabbing talented men like her athlete-exes and her current fiancé.
Our obsession with her every move is what’s most troubling. Instead of revering hard work, conscience of character, dignity and grace, society celebrates insta-fame through any means. The rise of reality stars has essentially democratized stardom by giving everyone with an iPhone an opportunity to shine, but it’s also muddied the waters of true talent and achievement.
What does it suggest about the state of the entertainment industry when Kim will no doubt grace more covers and possibly rake in more money than most talented actresses like Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence?
Who we reward in our society sends a clear message about our values. Maybe the Yale School of Drama should shut its doors and fledgling starlets should just get their degrees from an adult film company like Vivid Entertainment.
Sure, does Kim offer another metric of beauty, beyond the standard waifs? Yes, but does she use her body as her only asset? Absolutely. And that signals that a woman’s self worth doesn’t reside in her character at all, but instead in her behind.
Should Anna Wintour be condemned for putting the “world’s most-talked-about couple” on the cover of Vogue? No. Her job as editor is to sell magazines and for better or for worse, ‘Kimye’ sells magazines.
The ultimate question isn’t even about Kim’s character; it’s really about ours. What makes someone a star lies in the eye of the beholder. So, we can’t keep complaining about her if we keep watching to see what she will do next–it just keeps her star rising and our definition of character waning.
Danielle Moodie-Mills is an Advisor at the Center for American Progress for racial justice and LGBT equality. She is also the creator; writer and co-host of Politini, a politics and pop culture show on Blis.FM Follow her musings on Twitter @DeeTwoCents and at www.Politini.com.