After Keeping Up With The Kardashians aired its final episode following a 15-year run that hooked hundreds of millions worldwide, leading thinkers are linking up to unpack the reality TV series’ lasting legacy.
Academics, Instagrammers, artists, performers and cultural commentators will talk about all things Kardashian, from the family pets and Kim’s ‘vocal fry’ through to body positivity, cultural appropriation and the trans voice.
Starting, today, the three day ‘Kimposium! The sequel’ follows an earlier ‘Kimposium!’ in 2015, the world’s first academic conference entirely devoted to the cultural phenomenon that is The Kardashians.
“The Kardashians are some of the most famous people on Earth, they represent and often lead profound social and cultural change,” said host Dr Meredith Jones.
“Kim is at the forefront of an international change to what an ‘ideal’ woman’s body is, and Caitlyn has brought trans into the mainstream like nobody before her.
“Kylie is now a force with a multimillion-dollar company, and her dynastic ambitions are clear – already her three-year-old daughter Stormi has her own campaigns.”
Perhaps better known for her infamous internet-breaking derierre, there’s more to Kim than meets the eye. And now the series is ending, Dr Jones reckons at the age of 40, Kim is now set for a second high-profile career.
“She has a legal career ahead of her and maybe a political career. I would love to see her run for office,” says Dr Jones, Director of Brunel University London’s Institute for Communities and Society. "A reality TV star [Donald Trump] has already been president of the United States and as I speak now, Kim Kardashian, who has half a law degree, is better qualified."
Another family member also trying for a political career is Caitlyn, who's a member of the Republican Party and running for governor of California this year.
For all their much-flaunted millions, part of the Kardashians’ appeal, says Dr Jones, is that at least at the beginning of the series, “they were all relatively normal-looking. None of them were ever slim and certainly not blonde, so they had a body type that people could identify with.”
Much has changed since, of course, with umpteen rounds of cosmetic surgery, endlessly changing wigs, and a full-body makeup style that has its roots in drag. “They’ve honed and manufactured their looks over the years. Now they all now look like caricatures of themselves.”
The free three-day ‘Kimposium! The Sequel’ runs entirely online from 14–16 September.
Artwork: Pia Marchetti; Graphics: Eliza Kania