On Monday, Time magazine named two of the Keeping Up With the Kardashian stars, Kendall and Kylie, among The Most Influential Teens of 2014 alongside Malala Yousafzai who was recently awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Time’s inclusion of the Jenner sisters in the list has been criticized on the ground that they are not deserving of the recognition. No family in the United States has been more vilified than the Kardashian clan. But just for a moment, in this one post, let’s take a look at what we can learn from this family that has in less than seven years built an empire worth more than two hundred million dollars .
One of the first culture shock people coming from less developed countries have when they come to the United States is Americans’ proclivity to cash in on everything including misfortunes. In my case, I was shocked that when Americans lose a loved one, they head to court for monetary compensation if the death was caused by the negligence of another. I used to think that by doing so, they weren’t mourning properly in that they were taking advantage of the dead. But I have come to see that that is the only way to hold people accountable for their actions since the dead, for instance, cannot be brought back to life. I have also come to realize that United States has a strong economy because money is constantly changing hands and people use every opportunity they get to make money. And now, some of us here are gradually being influenced by the culture – and for good I hope. When the Liberian man that was infected with ebola died in the United States recently, one of my Igbo friends in the States mentioned how unfortunate it was that the man died and how he would have become rich and popular from book deals, etc if he had survived the disease. I agreed with her. I am Igbo too and you know the certain reputation we have in Nigeria when it comes to money.
Now, critics often say that the Kardashian empire is built on vanity and that they only became famous when a tape that should have been kept private became public. But the Kardashian family have maintained that they played no role in leaking the infamous tape. Let’s take their word for it and then look at how they turned a rather unfortunate incident to work in their favor and how they cashed in on the momentary fame the leaked tape gave them.
Shortly after the tape was leaked in 2007, the family launched their reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Further cashing in on the even greater fame their reality show brought them, the Kardashians have branched out into so many business ventures including having spinoffs from the original show, acting, modelling, endorsements, motivational speeches, hosting talk shows, launching clothing, fragrance and makeup lines, hosting award shows and red carpet events etc. In other words, they have found ways to get their fame to translate into money in their bank accounts. With her more than twenty million followers, Kim Kardashian reportedly gets paid about twenty thousand dollars for each tweet she sends endorsing a product, and Khloe gets paid about thirteen thousand dollars for each tweet to her eleven million followers. The Kardashians also get paid to attend events with Kim sometimes earning up to one million dollars for one event. For her birthday party in 2010, Kim reportedly charged about two thousand dollars per guest. Kris Jenner the matriarch also earns money managing her children’s careers and making appearances at events and earns five thousand dollars per tweet endorsing a product.
With all the ways they found to make their fame work for them, I get bored when people repeatedly say that they are just famous for being famous and that they have no talents. What can be more creative than making something out of nothing? What talent surpasses making money with no talent?
I am happy to know that Nigerians are learning fast too and are now capitalizing on opportunities to establish multiple streams of income. See this post by popular Nigerian blogger, Sisi Yemmie, and you will be impressed by the various ways she uses the popularity her blog has given her to make money from advertisers. Earlier this year, she also had her fifteen million naira wedding sponsored by winning the reality show My Big Nigerian Wedding with her then fiance, Bobo. Without doubt, her huge social media presence helped her get more votes than the other competitors.
Whatever our opinion may be of them, one thing we can agree on is that the Kardashians are a hardworking bunch. With all the businesses they get their hands on, there is no doubt that they must have very tight schedules. There hasn’t been incidents of any member of the family being involved in drugs or alcohol. They are committed to building their empire and so they pay little attention to anything that will distract them. In including Kylie on the list, Time magazine specifically cited the seventeen year old’s entrepreneurial spirit in launching her own hair extensions. So for good or for bad, the Kardashians have shown diligence in what they do and if we put as much effort in our own projects, we are more likely to succeed. Though some have cited that the kids are popular merely because of their family name and so deserve no credit in their own right, I will like to point out that not all rich kids are taking advantage of their parents’ fame. I am of the opinion that the Jenner sisters deserve more credit than we give them.
Power of Influence
In this digital age more than ever, it is easier to estimate how much influence celebrities have by looking at their twitter followers. They are called followers for a reason. With Kendall’s more than eight million followers and Kylie’s seven million, Time has every reason to include them on the list. The list was for influential, not positively influential, teens so we can give Time a break on that count. If as is reported, advertiser pay the duo about three thousand dollars for each tweet they send out, then that shows the advertisers believe that they indeed have the power to influence their followers.
What is more? The Kardashians are a household name in pop culture so anything Kardashian draws attention and sells. But for the Kardashian sisters’ inclusion in Time’s list, many of us wouldn’t even know that a list was released. Kim Kardashian is reportedly expected to make eighty five million dollars from her video game alone. Despite the outrage and threats to end subscription by Vogue magazine customers when Kim graced the magazine’s cover with her then fiance, Kanye, the magazine had a record sell for that issue. And while ninety five percent of the comments on any Yahoo! news covering the Kardashian are disparaging of the family, people click to read them anyway and so Yahoo! can’t stop publishing them.
The point is, the Kardashians are influential and we can’t wish them away anytime soon. Instead of cursing the (perceived) darkness; rather than whining about how much negative influence they have on young children with their immoral dressing etc, we can try to light the candle by pointing our children to positive role models to counter their influence.
We may despise the Kardashains for what they stand for and question Kris Jenner’s parenting skills. But the one thing we can’t deny is that the K family are quite Kreative. We can at least learn that from them. Yes, there is always something to learn even from the unlikeliest of people.
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