It’s so easy to trash the Kardashians, we’re not surprised that people are even skeptical about all the social issues being discussed on Keeping Up With The Kardashians this season. In case you’ve been too busy analyzing Kylie’s every Instagram post for pregnancy clues and missed the more recent episodes, the Kardashian/Jenner sisters have had entire plot lines dedicated to bringing awareness to homelessness, Planned Parenthood, and gun control so far this year.
In one episode, for instance, Kim decides she wants to “get informed” about Planned Parenthood. These episodes were filmed in spring and summer 2017, which is just when people were rallying around the clinics in the wake of the Trump takeover. In the episode, Kim and Kourtney don’t know how they feel about Planned Parenthood, so they call Khloé to figure out what their stance on abortion is. Khloé tells her older sisters, “I am pro-choice. It doesn’t mean I am for abortion, but I do think there are circumstances where people should be given the choice.” All three book an appointment with a local center and visit to see for themselves.
Once there, they see the facilities and take part in a workshop about healthy relationships. They also meet with women who’ve been patients at the clinic and learn that Planned Parenthood does so much more than just perform abortions, although it’s perfectly OK that they offer those services as well. The verdict? The Kardashians are all about Planned Parenthood.
In another episode, Kim is struck by the number of people “living on the streets” and gets motivated to find out what it might take to fix Los Angeles’s homelessness problem. She and Khloé visit the Union Rescue Mission and get informed about the lack of space for people at shelters, the growing homelessness population, and the terrifying fact that there are 800 registered sex offenders living on Skid Row. Kim then calls city councilwoman Nury Martinez and gets a personal drive around her district, which includes a large number of homeless people. Kim gets out of the car and approaches people living there about accessing resources and ends up throwing a fundraiser for Alexandria House, which caters to homeless women.
An early December episode showed Khloé and Kendall going to a gun range because they want protection at home. They visit a gun range, but then call Everytown USA, an organization that lobbies for better gun control, and change their mind after being confronted with the statistics about gun deaths.
On social media, some people loving what can only be called PSAs for these issues and gaining respect for the Kardashians because of them. Othersare downright pissed — either because they’re on the other side of the issues or simply because they don’t think the KarJenner women should have an opinion at all about these things, or are doing it for the wrong reasons.
People are torn about it.
But how can using their platform to draw attention to these issues with their platform be bad?
Also, this isn’t some new thing for the show. Since its inception, the family has made a very big deal about donating to charity on their show and in their real lives, although they sometimes went about it in problematic ways. This season’s visit to Skid Row was a recycled version of the time back in Season 6 when Kourtney and Caitlyn take little Kendall and Kylie to a homeless mission because the tweens were “too spoiled.” There, the sisters bonded with girls their age and saw their rooms.
Khloé went alone and volunteered at the Downtown Women’s Shelter after meeting a drug addict on the street. She met with a group of women and commented as she left that she was impressed with the people there, and that they “wanted help.” Remember when they brought Shorty, a homeless man who was living outside of their boutique, Dash, back home with them and took him to the dentist? All of these plot lines could have been just a little more self-aware.
Back in the day, the Kardashians fought about having a gun in the house, with Kris and Kylie even stealing Caitlyn’s gun and putting it in cement to keep anyone from using it. Sometimes, the Kardashians’ staged PSAs can feel a little hollow. Like, a producer should have told Kris Jenner that bringing it to the police and showing how gun buybacks work would have been a more responsible way to get rid of the firearm on national television.
Likewise, this season, Kim was pretty much convinced that she could single-handedly solve Los Angeles’s homelessness problem with a little cash. After talking with Martinez, she finally understood how the problem has to be tackled on multiple levels, just like in 2014, her mother eventually talked her out of adopting an “orphan” in Thailand and let her know that she couldn’t save the world by taking home a baby who actually had parents. Sometimes the Kardashians come off as super naive about issues that the rest of us deal with every day, and sure, a lot of their good will is likely staged and scripted for the show.
But a lot of it seems not to be. The Kardashians and Jenners are insanely wealthy, and they do donate a lot of money to causes that are important to them. It’s really cynical to believe that Kim and her sisters donate and help just because they want a tax deduction or to improve their public image (though those things are likely true). The Kardashians have been doing their show for so long that they can basically call the shots. Momager Kris and E! would love to have them just talk about their relationships and babies every Sunday night instead of alienating viewers with their politics. So this is all their choice to bring awareness to women’s issues — and they are all women’s issues, BTW — that they care about.
IRL, Kim donated half a million dollars to Hurricane Harvey victims and also got her attorney to help Cyntoia Brown, the young woman in prison for killing the man who sexually abused her. Although the show began before Kylie and Kendall even hit puberty and Kim still rocked off-the-rack looks, they’re grown-ass women now. It makes sense that they want to also be more socially active, in addition to their beauty and fashion business ventures. Aren’t we all more aware than we were at 22 years old?
They’re also really smart: Right now, American culture is, despite its best efforts, way more politically activated than it has been in the KarJenner daughters’ lifetimes. Not picking a side and engaging with those issues would make them way less relevant, which is something the family is always concerned about, at all costs.
There are a ton of issues with KUWTK, and one major thing is that they often don’t think about an issue until it affects them, whether it’s apologizing for cultural appropriation after they get called out or only noticing homelessness when a man starts eating out of Dash’s dumpster in Calabasas. But as adult women, and mothers thinking about their kids’ futures, maybe they’re finally catching on and avoiding some mistakes they would have made when they were younger. Growth! There are many worse things that they could be doing than publicizing issues that are important to them, throwing fundraisers for low-income women, and using their platform for something other than the importance of Kegels and contouring.
They can, and should, do both. If they didn’t do any charity at all, we’d all be bitching about that, too. The fact is, millions of people watch these women and if, as Kim says, only one of them donates to their local homeless shelter this holiday season, that’s something to be proud of. If the Kardashian sisters are finally clueing in, we’re here for it.