Entertainment News

How the Kardashians monetised their unique brand of fame into multimillion-dollar businesses

After 14 years, Keeping Up With The Kardashians is coming to an end with the final season set to air next year.The announcement, which was made by Kim Kardashian on social media this morning, brings to an end the world’s most talked about reality show which radically changed America.To celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary in…

After 14 years, Keeping Up With The Kardashians is coming to an end with the final season set to air next year.

The announcement, which was made by Kim Kardashian on social media this morning, brings to an end the world’s most talked about reality show which radically changed America.

To celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary in 2017, the New York Post’s Maureen Callahan wrote about the incredible impact the show and its stars had had on society:

The Kardashians have monetised their unique brand of fame into multimillion-dollar businesses. How and why is hard to explain; it’s not as though their stardom is backed up by any discernible talent. The Kardashians are like the bitcoin of the celebrity-industrial complex, their currency backed by nothing but those who buy into it. And plenty do.

RELATED: Kim K in tears during Kanye reunion

From apps, emojis and endorsements to modelling and makeup, the Kardashians have raked in millions since they first burst onto our screens.

The clan has been with us so long now that an entire generation doesn’t know life pre-Kardashian.

Oversexualised tween and teenage girls, sexting and oversharing online, with “social media influencer” a viable career option – none of this would have happened without the Kardashians. Just as Lucille Ball set the template for the sitcom, the Kardashians invented a new kind of celebrity.

They’ve also made plastic surgery mainstream; never before have so many teenagers sought nips and tucks. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has reported an uptick in the amount of teenagers undergoing cosmetic procedures: In 2014, 64,000 patients were ages 13-19; in 2015, that number was 64,470, with an additional 161,700 less invasive procedures performed that year. Now it’s just a thing kids do before going back to school.

“This is directly related to the surgery of the stars of their reality shows,” Dr Richard Ellenbogen, CEO of BeverlyHillsBody, told People.

You can watch season 18 of Keeping Up With the Kardashians on Binge, Australia’s new streaming service offering the best drama, entertainment and movies from the world’s best creators. New to Binge? Get a two-week free trial. Sign up at binge.com.au

It’s the Kardashian Generation, and overseeing all is Kris Jenner, who has used her family’s trashier aspects to muscle their way into the upper echelons of fashion and commerce. She may be among our greatest con-artists, wearing us down by refusing to go away, her very staying power validating her pop-cultural omnipotence.

The woman who has pimped out her own daughters is now embraced as a feminist entrepreneur by no less than Lena Dunham, who published an interview with Jenner in her Lenny Letter. Noted was a framed photo, in Jenner’s office, of daughter Khloe’s mugshot after a DUI arrest. Kris has trained her offspring-cum-employees well in 21st-century shock art: “Kim Kardashian Reveals Her Favourite Sex Position, That She Pees in Her Spanx, and More Outrageous Things You Didn’t Need to Know,” ran a 2015 Us Weekly headline. Among those “things”: Kim outed Kourtney for urinating in a common area at Miami’s four-star Delano Hotel.

Troubled brother Rob, who didn’t attend Kim’s wedding to Kanye West because, sources claim, Kim felt he was too overweight and unattractive, was reportedly reamed out by Kris after he quit filming in 2014.

“Kris finally flat-out told him he’s an embarrassment to the family,” a source told Star that same year. “She called him a fat slob and told him he’s losing out on business opportunities because no one wants someone as huge as him representing their products.”

Yes: In Kris Jenner’s world, being overweight is worse for the brand than pissing on the floor of a fancy hotel.

“Rob feels that show has truly ruined his family,” a source told Radar in February 2014. “He feels very alone.”

RELATED: Kim K hits the beach in tiny pink bikini

Rob’s ex, Blac Chyna, with whom he has a child, also has a child with Kylie’s ex Tyga — and, for a time in 2016, their own reality show. When he began ranting against Chyna and posting revenge porn in 2016, Kris called in a crisis management team and her KUWTK crew to film it all.

“The show must go on,” a source told Hollywood Life.

The show itself really originated with Kim’s sex tape, made when she was just 23 and allegedly sold by someone close to the family. A few months later, it was used to launch KUWTK.

Also documented, on the original show and multiple spin-offs: The broken husbands and partners who cycle in and out of the family, including NBA star Lamar Odom, who was increasingly upset over his portrayal on the show and ended up overdosing in a Vegas brothel.

Odom was reportedly “irate” and “inconsolable” after watching, and told a friend that all the family “had ever done was exploit him for the show … He felt chewed up and spat out”.

Kourtney’s small children can look forward to watching their father, Scott Disick, get blackout drunk repeatedly, his addiction a multi-season arc. She told THR that while filming the first season, she’d sneak into the bathroom to cry.

“I don’t think we even knew what we were saying yes to,” Khloe said. “Kim and my mum were steering the ship.”

By the time Bruce Jenner’s divorce from Kris and subsequent gender reassignment surgery were announced in 2015, it was overshadowed as a storyline by the only question that really mattered: Who’d control the reveal – Kris on KUTWK, or Bruce, soon to be Caitlyn, alone? (Caitlyn won.) Would Kanye, who largely sidesteps the show, make a cameo? (Yes.) When Kim got robbed in Paris in 2016, would she share her trauma on the show? (Yes, with E! airing a teaser trailer in which Kim tearfully recounted the moment she was sure, “They’re going to rape me.”)

In the aftermath, Kim disappeared from social media and said she would stop with her vulgar displays of wealth. “It’s not all about the money,” she reportedly said. “It’s not worth it.”

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission

Leave a Comment