Kim Kardashian: Media Professional?

Kim Kardashian West was born on October 21, 1980 to parents Kris Jenner (formerly known as Kris Houghton) and Robert Kardashian. She is the second eldest out of five other siblings, two of which are half siblings from her mother’s second marriage. Kardashian has Dutch, English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry on her mother’s side whilst her father’s side is of Armenian-American heritage. She graduated high school at Marymount High School, a Roman-Catholic all girls school in Los Angeles.

As a young girl, Kardashian helped out at her father’s music marketing company, Movie Tunes. Later on, she became a stylist to celebrities such as, musician, Brandy and actress, Lindsay Lohan. Her career as a stylist catapulted her career in Hollywood along with her friendship with socialite, Paris Hilton.

Kardashian currently lives in Los Angeles. She is also married to musician, Kanye West and has two children with him, North (born 2013), and Saint (born 2015).

Kim Kardashian West interests me as she continues to demonstrate herself as a media professional in her career. She is a well known and successful media personality as well as a business woman, which is an aspect of her career that people seem to ignore. She is often deemed in the media as ‘talentless’ as if her achievements required no effort. She also repeatedly faces scrutiny for her use of social media to boost her brand. Whereas other ‘respected’ media professionals do the same however there is little backlash from the public. Personally, I find that she doesn’t get enough credit for the building of her business and brand and instead is dismissed as a joke.

Her career as a stylist along with being associated with Paris Hilton pushed Kardashian more into the spotlight. In February 2007, a sex tape made by Kardashian and her then boyfriend, rapper Ray J that was made in 2003 was leaked. This gave Kardashian an abundance of public attention. Vivid Entertainment distributed the film named ‘Kim K Superstar’. Kardashian filed a lawsuit against the company but later on dropped it and settled for five million dollars.

This controversy led to the launch of the reality TV show Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which broadcasts her life along with her family including, her mother Kris Jenner, her step-parent Caitlyn Jenner (formerly known as Bruce), her siblings Kourtney, Khloe, and Rob, as well as her half-siblings, Kendall and Kylie Jenner. The reality TV show’s success lead to the creation of their spin-offs such as, Kourtney and Kim Take New York and Kourtney and Kim Take Miami.

Alongside with being a reality TV star, Kardashian also has several business ventures on the side. One of them being her clothing boutique store named D-A-S-H, co-owned with her sisters Kourtney and Khloe. Furthermore, designing a clothing line for department store Bebe, writing books, and launching her own perfume line. More recently Kardashian has released a video game for iPhone and Android called Kim Kardashian: Hollywood which was released in 2014.

Kardashian has been involved in a philanthropic project by releasing a song called ‘Jam (Turn It Up)’ in 2011. The track received mostly bad reviews and when being asked if there was to be an album following the release of the song, Kardashian replied, “There’s no album in the works or anything—just one song we did for Kourtney and Kim Take New York… half of the proceeds we’re giving away to a cancer foundation, because The-Dream’s and one of my parents passed away from cancer. It’s just all having fun—with a good cause.” (Kardashian, 2011).

Kardashian has many other unmentioned ventures which has earned her the title as an entrepreneur.

Media convergence can be defined as “content that has been traditionally been confined to one medium appears on multiple media channels” (Turow, 2011). Kardashian entered the scene through traditional media methods such as television, for example the reality show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Since the launch of the show in 2007 and the growing increase of social media, Kardashian has adapted by having multiple social media accounts. On social media she has a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube accounts as well as her own website. All with an enormous following of millions on her social media accounts. Which are all also regularly updated. This allows Kardashian’s brand to be constantly relevant. The public no longer need to wait until another Keeping Up with the Kardashians episode or a new book release to be updated as there will always be something new on any of her social media accounts.

The use of social media allows the general public access to her social media accounts at any time through the internet. In effect, this adds to the globalization of Kardashian’s brand as she provides a medium for an abundance of people worldwide to access her content. “Globalization… denotes the expanding scale… speeding up and deepening impact of transcontinental flows and patterns of social interaction…” (Held and McGrew, 2002).

The public sphere can be defined as, “A domain of our social life where… public opinion can be formed [where] citizens… deal with matters of interest without being subject to coercion… [to] express and publicize their views.” (Habermas, 1997). Kardashian demonstrates this through her social media accounts. On her website is where she uploads her longer posts. Consisting generally on the topics of beauty and style. However, she also uses the medium to post personal experiences such as, being a mother. More recently, she was criticized for uploading a ‘nude’ photo (however the breasts and genitals have been covered on the photo) on International Women’s Day.

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This lead to polarizing opinions of outrage and also people defending Kardashian including public figures such as Bette Midler, Chloe Grace Moretz and Amber Rose. Midler voicing on Twitter, Kim Kardashian tweeted a nude selfie today. If Kim wants us to see a part of her we’ve never seen, she’s gonna have to swallow the camera.” (Midler, 2016) referring to her sex tape. With Moretz adding, “I truly hope you realize how important setting goals are for young women, teaching them we have so much more to offer…” (Moretz, 2016). Meanwhile Amber Rose defending Kardashian, “After carrying a baby, I just think it’s really cool and I’ve seen that she’s been getting a lot of [flack] for it and I didn’t think it was fair… If any sexy guy posted a nude picture with a little black strip over his private areas, everybody would be like, ‘Damn, he is hot, he’s sexy, look at that body. Oh he’s a dad too?’ It’s just a double standard.” (Rose, 2016). This issue lead to the conversation of the picture being feminist or anti-feminist. Kardashian stated herself in her blog, “I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body?… I am empowered by my body… sexuality… empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin… I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.” (Kardashian, 2016). Through controversies such as this, Kardashian uses her blog as a medium to establish the fourth estate. The fourth estate can be defined as “The press serves as an agency of public discussion… which rival ideas and interests compete with each other until… the ‘truth’ or the ‘common good’ prevail.” (Hampton, 2009). She also writes in her blog calling for an end to body-shaming and slut-shaming. Ending with, “I will not live my life dictated by the issues you have with my sexuality. You be you and let me be me.” (Kardashian, 2016).

Kardashian’s career has been catapulted by the media and she continues to converge and find new ways to globalize her brand through the different methods available. Her role as a public figure with a mass following plays an important role to her contribution to the fourth estate and public sphere. The content she produces keeps her relevant although sometimes controversial. Though in despite of controversy, she manages to use her following as a means of unapologetically expressing her views in hopes to influence others. Kardashian continues to build her brand and create a bigger following day by day through the use of media.

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