Keeping Up With the Kardashians wasn’t going to be able to avoid the elephant in the room for very long. On last night’s episode, only the second of the newest season, Kim Kardashian finally addresses her infamous Paris robbery. As Kim and her family document themselves for a living, it’s no surprise that there was a enough footage of the events leading up to and following October 3, 2016 to create one of the most powerful episodes of the series to date. It was Kim’s retelling of the events to her sisters, and in a confessional, that's most compelling. For me, it was the moment I was finally able to reconcile her career and what it’s actually worth.
Once it was confirmed that Kim hadn’t been physically harmed, questions immediately began swirling about whether or not the robbery had been staged for publicity. The nature of her work — essentially selling herself as a brand, as opposed to a pedalling hard trade or talent — definitely benefits from major life events, even the tragic ones.
For people who don’t find Kim’s line of work to be legitimate, empathy after the robbery came only second to questions about its credibility. As a culture that is obsessed with celebrities, we love to remain one cynical step ahead of them. Apparently we feel better about publicity stunts when we can say that we saw them coming. We side-eye first, and confirm the authenticity of celebrity controversies later. Whether it be our own retelling of Michelle Obama receiving a gift from Melania Trump or obsessing about Beyoncé’s twins, we are still perpetuating the culture that allows for Kim’s success. As such, the target on Kim’s back, which makes her susceptible to such an attack, is no different or bigger than that of any other A-list celebrity.
Even Kim prefaced her recollection of the night by mentioning her own vulnerability to an attack like this — she knew that her Snapchat updates provided the robbers with information they needed for the heist. While she has completely revamped her security measures, she still has to operate under the public eye, which includes executive producing a reality show that documents that harrowing event. It’s one thing to go through such a terrifying experience. It’s another to face a life-threatening incident and then have to relive it for the world because that’s your job — to be publicly vulnerable, for better or worse.
Many critics see Kim’s choice to do this job as a sign of stupidity and immorality, and consider her unworthy of the millions she has racked up. After that testimony, I find the opposite to be true. I’m not sure if I’d ever choose to do Kim’s job, but that’s my business and not grounds for me or anyone else to judge her for doing so. Just because something may be priceless to me, doesn’t mean someone else can’t put a lofty price tag on it in their own life, especially when the only person they're affecting is themselves. If someone chooses to make their most painful and traumatic experiences available for consumption, they deserve to be compensated pretty damn well. Perhaps it’s a result of my own conditioning as a child of the social media age, but I’m hyper-sensitive to the implications of exposure. I think "you'll never be broke" is a pretty fair trade for such an intrusion of privacy. As far as I’m concerned, she deserves every penny.