Generally speaking, any conversation about the Kardashians and their politics comes with a wince and a shrug. Woke Twitter has long moved past slut-shaming the sisters, but their constant rotation of offensive scandals has firmly placed Kim, Kourtney, Khloé, Kendall, Kylie, and even Kris into the “clueless” camp of celebrity activism.
And yet, no matter how many tasteless Pepsi commercials, culturally appropriative hair styles, black clothing designer rip-offs, and embarrassing Kanye tweets are swept under the endless faux pas Kardashian rug (which is probably made of endangered tiger fur, metaphorically speaking), there are always moments when we collectively think, huh, maybe the Kardashians are becoming more woke. But for every well-intentioned tweet that takes a step forward, there are several seats taken that need to be accounted for.
Do the Kardashians Have the Potential to Become Woke?
To itemize every questionable Kardashian quote or even to tally up the objectively offensive missteps they’ve committed would take hours. The list of outwardly “woke” statements, moments, and actions is much shorter. But the timeline of their behavior elicits a promising trend toward authentic social justice-minded pursuits.
To review, being woke means being aware of current affairs and how they affect privileged versus non-privileged parties. That’s the Urban Dictionary interpretation, at least. But the Kardashians actually play a part in the website’s amateur curation of the term: “While you are obsessing with the Kardashians, there are millions of homeless in the world. STAY WOKE.”
And yet, just looking at Khloé’s last two tweets, the current landscape of Kardashian soundbites suggests that maybe, just maybe, the sisters are becoming self-aware. The video Khloé tweeted, with the caption “My sister Kim sent me this video😩Watch,” is admittedly an elementary-level understanding of how privilege works.
It’s a high school-aged activity where the motivational speaker-esque group leader asks the participants to step forward based on a set of qualifiers “completely out of their control,” like whether their parents are still together, if they’ve ever had to worry about where their next meal is coming from, etc. The goal of the activity is to show that some of us have distinct advantages in American society thanks to the circumstances of our birth — which, for a 34-year-old mother, you’d think would be self-explanatory. Is this really news to Khloé?
Well, maybe so. In this socioeconomically tense, politically divisive era, perhaps the eligible voting bloc at large could use a primer in identity politics. And Khloé’s prior tweet, where she apologizes for misgendering budding nonbinary star Asia Kate Dillon, is a sweet moment of promising progress.
This, coupled with sister Kim’s recent foray into prison reform, the seemingly well-intentioned Oval Office visit that freed Alice Marie Johnson and led to a resurgence in the wrongful imprisonment debate, indicates that the Kardashians can put forth some real good into the world. With limitations.
How Offensive Have the Kardashians Been, Really?
I’m coming from the perspective that the existence of Kardashian fandom isn’t, in itself, an offensive example of how detrimental social media has been on society. I spend far too much time keeping up with the Kardashians to indulge in that level of hypocrisy. It’s the age of the streaming economy. Personality sells, regardless of talent, for better or for worse.
We’re never going to hear a Kardashian spout that there is no ethical konsumption under kapitalism, because guess what? Kardashians thrive off konsumerism to survive. Buying worthless shit to further enhance their app empire, their makeup mogul status, and their influencer ad revenue is the Kardashian bread and butter.
You could say the same for most woke figures on social media. At the end of the day, the person behind the Twitter personality needs to keep their bank account full enough to buy groceries. Even if you give up worldly goods and start a backyard produce garden, you can’t be politically correct on the internet if you don’t pay your cell phone bill. Take that, social justice warriors!
But even though Kim needs to pay for her ten slabs of calcutta gold Italian marble, she could at least profit without being blatantly offensive, right?
As much as I genuinely sympathize with the sisters and their revolving door of family members, lovers, and acquaintances, we can’t excuse their past actions, not to mention their ongoing political apathy. Kanye’s tweets about Donald Trump and slavery are wrong! Kim’s blithe excusal of his behavior isn’t okay! Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s comparatively saint-like actions don’t make up for their friends’ transgressions! And considering that the president used to run in their circles, social media celebrity dialogue actually does matter, whether baby boomers like it or not!
To review, this isn’t just a Kim and Khloé issue, although both have committed some eye-roll-worthy sins and legitimately worrisome misdeeds — both Khloé and stepmother Caitlyn, for example, have terrible vehicular records. Khloé violated her parole for drunk driving. Caitlyn actually killed a woman. And the outspoken trans activist is a whole other can of worms, considering the LGBT community has basically disowned her. Kylie, Kendall, Kourtney, Kris, and the whole extended lot of them all have bad track records when it comes to morality.
The Kardashians don’t deserve that much credit for being pseudo-woke. They’re not even actually that woke. The effort they exude to be kind of politically correct some of the time is overpowered by the negative consequences of their other actions. I can’t cast judgment over Kardashian fans, because I, like most of my peer group, often enthusiastically or at least inadvertently, keep up with them. We enable the Kardashians by supporting them, whether monetarily or by giving them the attention they sustain their brand on. Not that we should feel compelled to unstan — but maybe we should approach how we talk about, think about, and support the Kardashians with a more critical eye for wokeness.