If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much is a picture of things that cost thousands of dollars worth?
It’s that kind of math that makes the bigwigs at Instagram put on their “we know what we’re doing” faces when the littlewigs who use Instagram put on their “we’re freaking out over your threatened changes to the terms of service” faces.
But this isn’t a post about math, legal tom-fooleries or even wigs.
Nay, this is a post about some pictures that recently appeared on Instagram. Pictures that indicate that, if this had been the year of the Baby Jesus’ birth, the wise men and women could have been guided to The Manger by the flashing lights of two very busy iPhone cameras. The ensuing holiday to be dubbed, of course, Khristmas, and Jesus to be relegated to a middle name; the first name becoming, of course, Brob.
The pictures in question are shots of Kendall and Kylie Jenner vamping with various family members, posing in their closets wearing designer frocks or displaying the loot they hauled in from a Santa that must be better on the West Coast than he is on the East. More on Santa’s playing-favorites soon. These sisters are 17 and 15 years old, respectively. It is hard to tell them apart, perhaps especially in their Khristmas Eve pictures as they both pose in tight white dresses and pucker lips that are painted equal shades of brightness.
The pictures of their Khristmas presents are equally indistinguishable. That’s because both girls received Céline bags and Balenciaga boots, and whichever one is the favorite also got a pair of Louboutin heels. Both girls also seem to have taken to social media to share the joy those presents brought them, posting the pictures to their Twitter accounts and/or Instagram feeds.
The reaction to their pictures reflects the girls’ huge presence in mainstream media, the lavishness of the gifts… or both. As the links in this post demonstrate, the little K’s Khristmas haul was featured on The Huffington Post and People.com. A contributor to a popular parenting website wrote about how “totally inappropriate” the gifts were. The pictures themselves received thousands of comments and/or “likes.”
What to make of all this?
Perhaps the gifts are inappropriate. In many circles, a teenager with bags and shoes that cost thousands of dollars = a spoiled brat. Most of us think that a 15-year-old doesn’t need a fancy purse; at most, she needs a fancy retainer case.
Then again, Kendall and Kylie are rich. They are the youngest members of a rich family dynasty with its own entertainment franchise, and they are rich in their own right, likely to keep getting richer. Both work as models, each having appeared in various campaigns and together on the cover of Teen Vogue. The accessories the rest of us look at as luxury items or “last month’s rent” probably are, to them, special but not outrageously so. And certainly something that their bank accounts can withstand. If we criticize their gifts, does that mean someone who makes less than I do can criticize me for getting my daughter a new one-piece snowsuit from L.L. Bean instead of Wal-Mart?
So maybe the gifts themselves aren’t ridiculous, but the instant and repeated documentation of those gifts is. The girls should know that most people aren’t getting gifts like that on this Christmas or any other, and that posting the pictures was bragging of the highest order. Presents can still be awesome even without your more than 7 million combined Twitter followers seeing how awesome they are.
Not so fast, though. The KKKKKK allure isn’t that they’re resolving border disputes or composing concertos or penning the next great American novel. It’s that they’re living a life so fantastical, so unrealistic, so are-you-seriously-wearing/doing/saying-that, we want to be flies on every wall. We want to know the minute she has the baby, we keep tabs of every anniversary, we marvel at each plunging neckline. These are people whose only unique talent is sharing absolutely everything with the world. This is the life Kendall and Kylie have grown into, the world as they understand it. The girls know they have an audience, and they know the only performance required of them is showing the crowd their stuff – be that stuff of the physical or material variety. They aim, shoot and post. We click, download and view. How can we chide them for giving us what the ratings say we want?
Okay, but there’s still something uncomfortable here. It could have something to do with how young the little Ks are. It feels faintly icky to watch these underage girls wear the clothes, strike the poses and receive the gifts traditionally associated with older woman of a certain taste level and income bracket. The vast majority of us associate teenage-hood with getting braces off and hiding acne. I would fall right over in a pair of the Louboutin heels Kendall was so psyched to rock on Khristmas Eve.
Again, I’m not sure anything like blame lies with Kendall, Kylie or even their family. The only thing I know about the lifestyles of the rich and famous is what I’ve learned from programs like, well, the ones the Kardashians make. Children grow up quickly, adolescents look like adults and adults look like adolescents. It’d be like watching a show about Maine and criticizing its “stars” for wearing too much plaid and not blow-drying their hair enough.
The real take-away here is probably this: I just spent about 1,000 words analyzing the Khristmas celebration of two girls I’ll never meet, and who’d intimidate the freckles right off me if I did. They got me to invest my time and mental energy in something that is trivial, if not devoid of significance. In other words, they did exactly what they always do.
Who cares about the Kardashians? Apparently I do, and you do, too. Enough to at least pay attention. We just can’t help ourselves. Bah, humbug!
Image via People StyleWatch