The Kardashians and Greta Garbo – keeping up with us

I am reminded of the Peter Cook sketch, riding on a bicycle down an empty, working-class, terraced street dressed as Greta Garbo, bellowing through a megaphone, “I WANT TO BE ALONE – I WANT TO BE ALONE!”.


So – the Kardashians are leaving the stage – wanting to be alone. We can no longer ‘keep up’ with them – that cruelly ambiguous term reminding us (if we gave it a moment’s thought) that we might ‘keep up with them’ – but we’ll never catch them as they broadcast from over the horizon of licentious wealth. The continuous insult of their unearned opulence and celebrity will, supposedly, dissolve in a new family experiment….privacy.

But it won’t.

Like Tinkerbell (cf. Peter Pan) their brilliance only shines with massive public expressions of love. Clap if you believe! Those outsized bums, uplifted cleavages and puckered poses – all designed to ratchet these suburban housewives one notch above the hundreds of thousands of other women with equally good looks and nasally whiny voices – would deflate and wither in the dark mirror of privacy. Ways will be found. Their need for celebrity will out. Those interminable family squabbles and love-ins, the rescuing of the broken, the loftily pained exploration of simplistic moral dilemmas – all of these give structure and substance to the Kardashian family and its bizarre hierarchy. All these will become tawdry, mundane, insufferable if not gold-plated with the gaze of millions.

The Kardashians don’t belong to themselves – it’s not their choice to retreat, not to be kept up with. We applaud them because we want their light to keep shining – for social psychological reasons much rehearsed in the media. We have this desire, and it, too, will out. Perhaps that’s what makes the Kardashians democratic – in some twisted way. Perhaps it will shift to some other family who discover celebrity in displaying plus-sized…..something or another. We will move on to find other glitzy house-dramas that sprinkle our own dramas with a light powdering of their significance. Our attentions will shift…

…in which case the Kardashians will find themselves having to ‘keep up’ with us.

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