Reality television has weirdly pervaded TheGloss this week, what with the Today Show refraining from observing 9/11 and instead opting to let Kris Jenner talk about her breast implants or Jersey Shore’s Sammi Sweetheart designing a collection of sweatpants. This has led to a lot of office conversation about reality television personalities and how objectionable we find them. But can we actually parse out why? Well, besides Kim Kardashian comparing her publicity stunt marriage to pediatric cancer…
Ashley: Okay, sometimes I think to myself, “Kim Kardashian/the Kardashians are the worst people alive.” Then, in moments of self-awareness, I go, “That is preposterous. The Kardashians are, at worst, the symptom of sick culture. Alternatively, there are murderers, dictators and warlords all over the planet that are much worse.” Sometimes, though, I’ll have this thought and then I’ll pause again and think, “No, it is all just evil manifesting itself differently.”
Jennifer: Nice piggyback on that heart of darkness piece, buddy! Please go on, and tell me about evil. Usually I think evil is when people are mean to waiters. Is that correct?
Ashley: Yes. That is a kind of evil! Also, if any of you reading this are ever mean to waiters: seriously, fuck you. You’re horrible.
Jennifer: No one thinks they’re the kind of person that is mean to waiters, though. That’s why you have to be so careful. Every time you see a waiter, you should compliment any buttons they happen to be wearing and tell them that you will vote for a political candidate of their choosing this November.
Ashley: It’s true, a lot of people don’t realize they’re horrible assholes and that’s why they persist in their behavior. I think the Kardashians realize that they’re horrible assholes, they just define “horrible asshole” differently. I think Kim Kardashian genuinely believes she is a “strong woman” and “serious businesswoman.”
Jennifer: Why is she not? Look, I’m not overly familiar with the show. The worst thing I can say is that they do not strike me as witty – they actually strike me as being proudly anti-intellectual – and I think her manner of dress is pretty obvious. But then, that’s quite different from being “evil.” Insofar as it seems like I have different taste than her, but she does not do anything to hurt me.
Ashley: Well, come on. People get pissed off at things that have no real affect on them all the time; we work on the internet, we trade in being outraged over things that don’t really matter. And, sorry to go all bleeding heart on you, but the obvious argument for actual evil is her having made a fortune off selling clothes made in sweatshops. By children. So, you can add “profiting off the abuse of human rights” to being venal and having bad taste.
Jennifer: Well, outrage is different than deciding someone is “evil.” I do find most reality TV stars seem to have personality traits that mean they would not be a good match for me, friendship-wise. Someone was telling me the other night about partying on a yacht until 4:00 in the morning and I found myself thinking “you know, I really like eating cheesy broccoli and watching Gossip Girl re-runs. That actually sounds preferable than booty dancing on a moving vehicle with strangers.” I think that is why reality stars and I would not be friendship matches.
Ashley: You just said booty dancing.
Jennifer: The kids say that.
Ashley: Also, do you just look at the world in terms of who you could be friends with and who you couldn’t?
Jennifer: Of course. Don’t you?
Ashley: I do not!
Jennifer: Frankly, I could probably be friends with anyone who was just really, really nice to me. Like, if Hitler came up to me and was all “Jennifer, I am such a big fan! I think you are so pretty and smart and nice. I bought you a goldfish. I like dogs.” I would probably say, “You know, Hitler, you and I disagree on some points, but I think I see the real you.”
Ashley: To everyone out there reading along in Gloss land, she is absolutely fucking serious. I think that can be an admirable trait, though, because I have really high expectations of people and become absolutely crushed when they fail to meet them, whereas you’d be friends with someone forever if they found out your favorite cookie and baked a batch for you. And then, if that person killed your family and fucked your dog, you’d be really angry until… well, until they made those cookies again. It’s crazy! You’re like a golden retriever in this way.
Jennifer: Isn’t that weird? You would think between the two of us I’d be the more judgmental one. Because, you know, I really like sharply tailored suits.
Ashley: You do. But I also want people to always be bettering themselves and you’re like, “They’re trying. And really nice!”
Jennifer: So, yes, you generally choose to befriend people for character traits they possess, which is, probably, in the long run, going to cause you to make better life choices. Like, sometimes I play the party game, “Who goes Nazi?” The rules are pretty built into the title. You guess which of your friend would, at the rise of Nazi Germany, join the Nazi party. And there is no doubt in my mind that if a nice Nazi lady said, “Please join my fun club, we have streusel,” I would be there in a heartbeat. I’d chair that club. And then I’d be Leni Reinfenstahl. You’re really my best hope not to end up that way. Because you, at least, would… well, you’d get all shout-y, the way you do sometimes.
Ashley: I would. I get shouty about principles. Even in the face of baked goods.
Jennifer: So, what are the principles the Kardashians or Jersey Shore cast go against? I mean, I will say that, while I am disposed to like almost anyone, my best friends share one trait in that they are reliably able to make me laugh. And the Kardashians or Jersey Shore people lack that capacity.
Ashley: Okay, this is kind of weird, but I wouldn’t lump them all together like that. I actually think JWOWW has a weird moral streak and I wouldn’t rank her alongside Kim Kardashian.
Ashley: Okay. Don’t judge me, but… in the first season of Jersey Shore, which is the only one I’ve seen, they all go out and get drunk at a club (so, every episode). But in this one scene, these drunk girls notice the filming and start harassing the cast members to draw attention to themselves. One of the girls calls Snooki fat. Snooki is drunk but she realizes she’s being antagonized and asks JWOWW what’s going on. JWOWW is angry and explains the situation to Snooki by saying, “They called us fat.” And I thought that was such a bizarrely decent, compassionate thing to say as a friend that, even though I find JWOWW objectionable and distasteful in some ways, I’ll always kind of like her for that.
Jennifer: What a nice person.
Ashley: Actually yes, right?
Jennifer: Actually so nice. Meanwhile, when I am being belittled, I usually just say people are saying it about you. “Why are you being so unpleasant to Ashley?” I shout, thereby deflecting their rage over to you.
Ashley: Alternatively, if we play “Who joins the Nazi party?” with the Kardashians, suddenly you just imagine Kim in a leopard print officer’s uniform, shilling an appetite-suppressing skin whitening cream she designed in “collaboration” with Joseph Goebbels.
Jennifer: Oh, God, it’s so true. Okay, so, Kim is evil because she seems like a survivalist?
Ashley: Exactly. JWOWW is self-sacrificing and ultimately decent, while Kim is a “strong woman” and “serious businesswoman.”
Jennifer: Okay, so, I should align myself with Kim if I want to live. God, the world is tough place.
Ashley: I guess. Kim is, if nothing else, cynically able to further herself along. But I wonder how much of that is out of her control. There was a time when it seemed like Paris Hilton was just as famous. Anyway, I think what I’m trying to say is that people who are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder are always dangerous in a way.
Jennifer: I want to live.
Ashley: This got weird.
Jennifer: Maybe I should bake Kim some cookies and buy her a goldfish. Do you think she likes goldfish?
Ashley: I don’t think she’s as easily swayed as you, Jennifer. I think that’s a secret to her longevity. She’s a Quisling.
Jennifer: I’ll buy her 2 goldfish!
Ashley: Good plan.
(All images via Kim Kardashian’s Instagram)