The Kardashians are one of the most famous families in the world with multiple reality shows, make-up lines and fashion brands with a collective networth entering the billions. What happens when the family is also a business? Sinead O’Riordan investigates.
If my existence was nothing but lying in bed, watching the light above me flicker with no contact with the outside world, I would still somehow find out Stormi Webster turned two years old. It’s something that happens to me fairly regularly now, finding out about such events in the lives of celebrities and their children.
This could be a symptom of three things: I have an extraordinary memory and my brain banks every small bit of information I come across, I am actually quite invested in the lives of celebrity families and am in deep denial, or I’m overexposed to their every move. I would like to opt for the latter, for my dignity’s sake.
Exposure and its consequences are of primary concern. These celebrity dynasties such as the Kardashian-Jenners secure their future influence by exposing their children to the world from birth. I would make the claim that Kylie giving birth to her daughter was itself born out of a meeting with her agent, but I wouldn’t want to be taken off from the potential Kylie Cosmetics PR list.
Screaming ‘think of the children!’ is not a phrase usually thought of when the children are born into immense fortune, but you can’t help but feel pity for them.
Perhaps the only time they see their parents happy and together is when they’re promoting a new diet tea or taking press photographs, and the only time they’ll have playmates outside their family is for a celebrity networking event.
These children, although lucky, have already sacrificed something they didn’t even know existed: privacy. Last year there was a resounding shock on the internet as people were already comparing the looks of Kim, Khloe and Kylie’s daughters.
This level of criticism will inevitably follow them into adulthood, alongside the psychological damage done by such intense fame. We have to look only to the “Disney Curse” to understand the effects of international fame on a young person’s mind.
Another question to ask in this regard is ‘do we really care?’. We register these children’s existence for a few seconds (if that) as we scroll Instagram, the post being sandwiched between a girl from primary school’s holiday throwback and something else irrelevant. Does the perpetuation of abnormality for one child bother us so much that we’d do away with these dynasties?
No, probably not. There is an intimacy between ‘reality’ celebrities and their audience; as we see their wallets and faces get filled year on year, a bond is created. The reason your grandmother hasn’t missed an episode of Coronation Street in 25 years is the same as why you follow every family member of the Kardashian-Jenners.
Branding families like the Kardashian-Jenners as ‘dynasties’ is the only appropriate description. The longer they have stayed in the public eye, the more like royalty they become: their marriages seem to be based on a traditional ‘best suitor’ concept, their participation in philanthropy, their reliance on the public for their status.
As much as we might like to think the adoration of the public for the traditional monarchy is waning, it is in fact being redirected to reality TV stars. When the rule of the Kardashians is officially recognised and the Windsors abdicate, life as we know it will change. The essential lessons in school will no longer be Maths or English but ‘Avoiding Scandal 101’, with school trips being diverted from Thorpe Park to the nearest surgeon.
It’s not fair of me to focus only on one family. Having fame as the family business is applicable to many other celebrities. It’s almost as if ‘celebrity’ is a new social class, with a certain lifestyle being available only to them and their children.
Admittedly, I haven’t done the research, but I would bet a hefty sum that the child of a celebrity is predominantly destined to become one of two things: a photographer or model.
The children of the Gallaghers and Beckhams are perfect evidence of this. I’m sure at many parties in South West London, the classic question of ‘what school did you go to?’ is replaced by ‘so, who’s your mum and dad?’.
The old adage goes: you have to give some to get some. The ‘some’ in the cases of celebrity dynasties is actually quite a lot, giving up total privacy and normality for unprecedented access to a lifestyle of ease and fulfilment.
I’ve offered some half-baked visions of what’s to come throughout this article, but I’d like to now share my full prophecy.
I envision a future in which the most-liked picture of all time will be a sonogram of Kylie Jenner’s next unborn child.
That picture will show the foetus with a UV teeth whitener in one just-formed hand. That child will be born a girl and christened as #ad. #ad will be denied her payments for appearances on the never-ending seasons on Keeping Up With the Kardashians and various press releases until she gets her first cosmetic procedure. By the age of 14, #ad will be looking back at baby pictures and wonder if it was ethical for her mother to dress her in Fashionnova bum-sculpting diapers.
This question will lead to many more. Shouldn’t she be able to explore her interests without pressure to adhere to ‘The Family Brand’? Shouldn’t she be able to wear what she wants, rather than constantly promoting Yeezy?
Maybe with the birth of #ad, the end of the Kardashian dynasty will come to its timely end, and the acceptance of fame as the family business will be overturned. Well, we live in hope.