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The Kim Kardashian Spectacle
Mom with a View

The Kim Kardashian Spectacle

This new low reminds us of the toxicity of Reality TV.


I’ve been busy the last 72 days or so, what with back-to-school, the High Holidays and, thank God, a few family simchas. So I seem to have missed it. I didn’t know about the elaborate, expensive and highly publicized wedding. And I probably wouldn’t have known about the divorce either except that when I emerged from my bubble to go buy some groceries, it was everywhere – splashed over the front of every glossy magazine by the checkout counter.

There’s a lot about the story of Kim Kardashian’s marriage that seems to have elicited tremendous public interest and comment. And I certainly have no new “insider” details to add. In fact, I have a question that no one seems to be asking. Why do we care? She seems to be confused (I confess to a superficial perspective gleaned from googling her), her life seems to lack focus and direction, her story is an unhappy one. So why are we interested? And why is she telling us?

She claims to have been “in love”. But no one seems to have taught her the meaning of those words. Does love mean just excitement about being with someone or is it a deeper recognition of their good and a desire to connect to that Divine aspect of their being?

She claims to have tried hard to make the marriage work. But even in Hollywood, 72 days seems to be a new low. I would have thought commitment meant giving it a little longer…It’s a rather pathetic story. We should get her counseling, not more photo shoots.

But I think there really are many lessons for all of us as we watch this tale unfold. It appears that the voyeurism that is Reality TV damages everyone it touches. No one emerges unscathed from the experience. And certainly (at least from my limited perspective), no one grows and changes and becomes a better person because they exposed the intimate details of their lives to millions of viewers.

Every morning in our prayers, we quote the prophet Bilaam’s praise of the Jewish people, “How goodly are your tents oh Jacob, your dwelling places oh Israel.” What exactly is he extolling? (I’ll give you a hint – it wasn’t their ability to go camping and pitch a tent!) What was unique about the Jewish homes was that no one’s tent door faced into anyone else’s tent. The concern was for privacy. No one should be able to see into anyone else’s home. Your home is your sanctuary – literally and symbolically. It is a holy structure meant to protect and preserve your important values and give refuge from the outside world.

Reality TV flies directly in the face of this crucial idea. It is unhealthy for the “actors,” their families and for the viewers. Besides the simple waste of time, our motives for watching are suspect. Are we wishing them well and looking for fairy-tale romances and marriages? Or is it all schadenfreude – the perverse pleasure we get in the downfall of others? Are we learning anything instructive about our own choices and relationships? Or are we just taking perverse pleasure in the failure of someone else’s?

It may not only be a distraction from the situations in our own lives that need attention but it may also teach us negative ways of behaving. Even if the relationships we see “modeled” on these shows are not ideal, we are still affected by them. I haven’t done any studies to prove this impact but we are very subject to peer pressure, even if the peers are on the screen. I’m concerned.

If our own lives were more meaningful and productive, if they gave us more pleasure, wouldn’t we be too busy to watch someone else’s? Do we feel better about our own (seemingly smaller weaknesses and failures) when we see their dramatic ones? (Isn’t this also a motivation to speak lashon hara, gossip?)

As I mentioned, I wasn’t following the Kim Kardashian’s story. I don’t really know who she is. I’m not sure that her regular viewers do either. In fact, I think it’s possible that if you expose your whole life to the camera, you start to forget who you are as well. You lose your center, your core, your sense of self.

I don’t know if Kim Kardashain’s wedding was a hoax, a publicity stunt or just a disaster. And in some way, it doesn’t matter. She has lost control of her life and of who she is and all the money and the publicity in the world won’t bring that back. She would do herself a kindness if she would retreat to lick her wounds in private. And we would probably all benefit if we just turned off the TV – or at least switched channels.

November 6, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 65

(61) avi, November 22, 2011 2:49 AM


she broke up with him. and now she's single.

(60) Shulamit Mallet, November 21, 2011 11:38 AM

What can be gained

There are people in this world that crave being in the limelight. They want to be famous (and rich into the bargain). For the life of me, I can't understand why. No sooner is someone famous than their entire lives become fodder for the tabloids. Photographers follow them around everywhere. Nothing they say or do is protected by any code of privacy. Is it really worth losing yourself for the limelight? I can't see it. I also have no idea who Kim Kardashian (or whatever) is. I stopped looking at tabloids and lost interest in "the stars' " lives a long time ago. If a reporter can't find an interesting story about someone they want to write about, they make one up. I can't imagine what stress this adds to the people involved. Hopefully they can laugh it off. Sometimes a false story might actually cause a problem where none existed before, as it plants a seed. Then, when you least expect it, the seed gets watered, and viola!, it suddenly is a problem. You're right, being exposed to the intimate details of someone's life is also is also a terrific temptation to speak loshon hora, to everyone involved. It is a real test of our values to keep ourselves from adding a few bits of juicy details, as well. The thing is, if we can use the information we glean from the "tales" to improve someone's situation, whether it's your own or someone else's, then it's worthwhile. Loshon hora harms the listener as well as the speaker, so it's important to walk away from, or stop, the inappropriate information from traveling from one ear to another. I can't see what enjoyment anyone can gain from seeing someone else suffering, but I know there are people that do. Perhaps if people were to imagine themselves in a similar situation, they might have more sympathy, or gain some insight into themselves. The best solution, whenever we hear about someone else suffering, is to pray for them. You never know when the tables will be reverse, and that person might be praying for you.

(59) Steven, November 14, 2011 4:41 PM

Wrong Angle

I would have preffered a different approach (perhaps a follow-up article?). Not on the viewee but the viewer. While television itself brings various opinions about the viewer, including the pros/cons of having one even in the house my view of "reality" tv is even more defined. TV was always about fantasy and a distraction - non of the charachters however were "real" and there was a "story". Watching Law & Order or Who's the Boss is like reading a book. Watching the Real Housewives of wherever is not. "Somebody" plucks people off the street and sticks them in front of a camera and decides for America/the world that they are relevant? When one watches these reality shows are they looking in a mirror? I sure hope not! Are they being transported away for an hour or so to a ficticious world for a reprieve? I just dont think so. Why then would someone turn on a TV to see what Kim Kardashian is saying, wearing, marrying etc.. Just my (very long) opinion............

(58) Diane, November 12, 2011 4:22 PM

Kardashian Wedding

Thank you so much: well said! It has given me much to consider

(57) Jorgiana Cole, November 12, 2011 6:46 AM

houses made of glass can not survive

This article is THE article I have been waiting for on all of this. Bravo. I will print this out. Thank you for the words and thought I could not put together. This world now is so confusing,and this article clarifires what is at the core of my being and I suspect what a lot of people have been getting at in their sense of overwhelmed disgust/confusion and sadness about our empty culture.

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