Kardashians Take SNL

Is the world ready to accept the Kardashians as celebrity royalty?

Photo+provided+Via+NBC

Photo provided Via NBC

Ben Winslow, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Instagram, makeup, shape-wear, reality tv, and SNL? She has done them all, and surprisingly to some, she has done all of them with ease. Kim Kardashian has cemented herself as a cultural icon over the past 15 years, and she has faced the revolution of “famous for being famous.” The Kardashians are easy to hate, but you have to recognize the subtle genius of the empire she has built around her. That genius was never on display more than when she hosted Saturday Night Live. 

Photo provided via NBC

Kim opened the show with a monologue that struck jabs at her family, her fans, her haters, the SNL audience, and most importantly herself. She began by saying, “I know, I’m surprised to see me here too.” I’m not surprised and neither were the people in charge of booking her for the show. A Kardashian is an immensely strong choice to host SNL this season. The show has suffered from declining viewership and low reviews from critics for the past few seasons. A social media star like Kim was a masterful choice to generate a new audience to the show. She would bring her massive audience of over 300 million fans and, importantly, she brought a younger audience to the SNL viewership. Kim and the writers were aware of this fact and they made sure to point it out in the opening monologue, saying: “how many people watch SNL? Like 10 million? This will be an intimate night for me.” The ratings for SNL boosted by 23% during Kardashian’s episode, showing that picking Kim was a great idea. 

Clearly not wanting to be seen as taking the easy way out, she poked fun at her sisters, her mother, and her father’s famous friend, O.J. Simpson. The murder of Nicole Simpson Brown continues to polarize America and we may never know who did it (O.J. definitely did it), but Kim preyed on the easy bait and made the hilarious joke: “I know it’s sort of weird to remember the first Black person you met, but O.J. does leave a mark. Or several. Or none at all, I still don’t know!” The audience roared with laughter, and you could really see Kim getting into the flow of her monologue when she delivered that line. 

Other sketches such as the “People’s Kourt” was a fun parody of Kim’s sister Kourtney. The sketch features joke appearances by Travis Barker, Meghan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Kanye West. It even included appearances by Kim’s real family members, Khloe and her “momager” Kris. Don’t worry, O.J. Simpson, portrayed by Keenan Thompson, popped into the “People’s Kourt” to ask for an invitation to the family gatherings. Clearly the focus of the show was not supposed to be Kim, but also her star-studded family. 

Photo provided via NBC

The episode continued with lighthearted skits about moms in the club, a bachelorette filled with famous contestants, and a new take on the popular Disney movie, Aladdin. None of the skits were on the floor laughing worthy, but they weren’t as atrocious as many expected. In fact they all seemed to be pretty fun and lighthearted. 

Despite a relatively successful episode that seemed to give off the fun of seasons past, Kim still faced merciless trolls on twitter. One person stated: “Has SNL ever had a less-qualified, less talented host than Kim Kardashian?” Well, to answer that question, Donald Trump once hosted SNL prior to him being President. By my calculations, that gives him the same amount of credibility as Kim: socialite, reality star, and a millionaire with no discernible talent. In fact, that makes them exactly the same. The only difference is that Kim is a woman, and rather than inheriting hundreds of millions from her dad she only inherited tens of millions. Oh wait, I thought of one more difference, as far as we know, none of Kim’s business ventures have failed and resulted in countless lawsuits. I’m not sure Trump can say the same. 

Criticism of the Kardashian family is frequent and consistent. A lot of the criticism is warranted, the family has repeatedly misappropriated African-American culture, as well as Asian culture. Criticism of those actions is appropriate, necessary, and fair. If they weren’t held accountable they would have continued to misappropriate cultures and, most importantly, teach their young audiences that it was acceptable to disregard the stories and customs of other cultures. The problem is though that criticisms of the Kardashian family frequently linger with hints of sexism. “She only has money because of her body,” “she’s a billionaire because of her dad,” “she’s just a dumb reality tv star.” Not true! What made Kim Kardashian a billionaire was her finding a niche spot on the market for her to capitalize on. Her business, Skims, has flourished into a hundred million dollar business that has transformed the shape wear industry. Not just that, but she also recognized when the market was shifting (due to a global pandemic) and started producing lounge wear that has taken her business to the next level. Who cares where her career started? She has now made herself a billionaire through careful and genius marketing. 

It’s important to recognize the inherent advantages that the Kardashians had towards attaining their global fame. Their dad was a low level celebrity, and they had the economic means to access the higher social circles. That still does not mean you will be a global superstar; half of Hollywood is filled with nepotism babies. Children who have been guaranteed fame or success in their fields because of their parents standing, but none have been able to achieve the level of fame the Kardashians have. There is something more going on, a deeper societal, and economic trend that has shined favorably on their climb to stardom. 

(Miller Mobley/E! Entertainment)

The Kardashians are easy to hate, and that is their most fundamental flaw. The entire premise of them gaining global fame for a reality show is laughable. But you should still recognize why you criticize the Kardashians, is it because you think they are annoying? Is it because of their past actions? Both of those are fair and perfectly fine opinions to have. But you should also consider if you dislike them because society teaches you that successful women don’t deserve their success, and in turn you are made to dislike people who are more successful than you and you believe they have no reason to be. You don’t become a billionaire from a reality show, you become a billionaire through careful branding, marketing, and most importantly capitalizing on what you have been given by the world. The Kardashians represent a new wave of fame, wealth, and influence. Whether you like it or not, they are undoubtedly here to stay. Kim’s SNL episode, and the subsequent criticism, just highlights how unprepared the world is for this new wave of celebrities. Her subtle genius is applaudable, and her rise to the top of society should be a model for all new celebrities. When you think of Kim Kardashian you probably don’t think billionaire, more likely you think celebrity. That is a result of her careful life choices, you know her for her fame, she took that and made herself a billionaire. Hate them or love them, her family did something right in their meteoric climb to fame, stardom, and without a doubt, over time, infamy.