Few of us admit to watching the Kardashian series or following any of their other, all-pervasive social media/brand/advertising channels. Instead we like to spurn them: "What utter trash!" we cry indignantly. "Why do we promote a culture of people famous for being famous? Why don't we celebrate real heroes?" we ask.
Of course it's all empty rhetoric and fake bluster. After all, if there aren't a couple of us watching their blockbuster series, following their instagram accounts, or downloading their apps -- who are those hundreds of millions of people? If not you or I -- then who?
Their presence across media in general is ubiquitous, inescapable, and almost unavoidable. Open any magazine and it's flush with Kardashian content -- an ode to the Kardashian world. Is Khloe getting back with Lamar? What is North wearing this season? Are Kylie and Tyga over? And of course, question of 2016, is Blac Chyna having Robert Kardashian's baby?
People brush this content aside with a flick of the wrist -- they're the scourge of society, exhibitionists who have made it big because of the size and scale of their exhibitions. Nobody's interested.
Really? Would they have gained cultural monopoly if people weren't watching?
Whether or not we want to admit we're watching the Kardashians (some of us would prefer to do so from the confines of the confessional) at the very least let's take a moment to pause, and consider the impact of the Kardashians on our contemporary culture.
The Kardashian purview is so broad, it's hard to put an actual ring around its imprint. It's not just the television program, 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians' (11 seasons of which have aired), it's the spin-off programs from 'Dash Dolls' to 'I am Cait', the magazine covers (hello, these ladies are now gracing the covers of Vogue), the truly omnipotent social-media accounts (of which Kim Kardashian, affectionately known as Kiki, owns the lions share -- around 100 million followers), the emoji lines (or kimojis), the apps (so you can follow their lives even more carefully), the video games, perfumes, handbags and lipstick lines.... Not to mention the children's wear Kardashian Kids.
You can't swing an ample derriere without it making contact with a Kardashian product. And we, the Kardashian consumers, continue to feverishly consume.
The signs and symbols of the Kardashian world have made their entry into contemporary culture. People are wearing eye-shadow before midday, fake eyelashes have become du jour, extensive lip lining on point, hair extensions, booties... yes, plentiful derriere's are now the way of the day. We have become emblems of the appropriated world of Kardashian Kulture.
Professor of functional and comparative genomics, Neil Hall, coined a term, the Kardashian Index (or K-index) to describe people whose "overblown public profile" results in undue weight being placed on their views. He outlines the K-index as a "measure of discrepancy between a scientist's social media profile and publication record based on the direct comparison of numbers of citations and Twitter followers." In other words, the more famous you are, the more people care about what you have to say, even if you're not an expert. The paper is armed with a mean theory and an algorithm to match.
Now, dear readers, if scientists are referring to the Kardashians in papers and using them to illustrate social phenomenon's, we are no longer in any position to be describing them as some sort of passing fad. They're not an anomaly, not an aberration or a curiosity.
Ultimately, they describe our times. In fact, I'm pretty certain that in a few decades when sociologists, anthropologists and theorists are looking back on the 21st century, they'll look to the Kardashians as a historical, social, cultural and potentially political phenomenon which described the times.
Please try not to be so aghast at this revelation.