Sorry, But The Bushfires Aren't The Kardashians’ Fault
It’s 2020 and the Kardashian-Jenner clan are still the easiest targets in celebrity culture.
I get it: they’re rich; they’re over-exposed; they’re really bloody irritating. But, honestly, we can’t blame everything in the world on the Kardashians. That’s just bananas.
Take Australia’s current climate catastrophe: our country-wide bushfire disaster, which is being called the “canary in the coalmine” of the contemporary climate emergency. It’s terrifying -- truly soul-destroying, serious stuff. So, guess which barely-relevant celebrities are in trouble because of a nebulous link to the aforementioned bushfire crisis? Go on, guess.
Yes, the Kardashian-Jenner women are under fire (again) for their less than sophisticated social media response to a socio-political emergency. Surprise! A group of people famous for their connection to reality television, fashion and “revenge bodies” are not the most switched-on individuals when it comes to progressive politics and social justice. Knock me down with a gosh-darn feather!
So, here’s the 411: mega-mogul Kim Kardashian-West posted “Climate change is real” on Twitter. People got mad, pointing out her tendency to take (and post photos of herself on) private jets. They wondered “Where is Kim Kardashian-West’s donation to Vic Emergency, or First Nations relief fundraisers, or the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter?”
Then, teen billionaire Kylie Jenner took to Instagram to express she was “heart broken” over the 500 million animals predicted dead as a result of the Australian bushfires (now predicted to be one billion) -- shortly before posting a photo of her real fur designer slidies. And people got, like, really mad.
First -- and let’s just get this out of the way -- genuine fur slide-on slippers? Really?? I guess we’re totally going down that road, in this Year of Our Lady Lizzo 2020. Fur slidies. Fur. Slidies.
All jokes aside, the Kardashian-Jenners are here doing what they do best: reminding us that we love capitalism until we don’t. Sure, the obscene accumulation of personal wealth is fantastic when it serves you. It’s great when you can negatively gear your third apartment in Sydney and treat yourself to a holiday in the Maldives. But when someone uses their own obscene accumulation of personal wealth in a way that doesn’t suit you, suddenly capitalism doesn’t seem like such a great idea.
Because how dare Kim Kardashian-West interact with the Australian climate catastrophe without broadcasting some astronomically large donation to the cause, so we can all fawn over her obscene wealth going to a cause of which we approve? And how dare Kylie Jenner have money and be a hypocrite? None of us have money and are hypocrites!
(It should be noted that after the outcry, Kylie has now pledged to donate one million dollars to Australian organisations helping communities hit by bushfire, while Kim and sister Khloe have made several social media posts indicating they have indeed donated, they just haven't publicised their donations.)
This isn’t to say that donations are bad or wrong: they are fundamental to the life cycle of public good. But the idea that we should look to international celebrities to solve our local problems (which, yes, are also global problems), is illogical in the extreme.
It’s both heartening and charming that a celebrity like Pink has pledged $500,000 to bushfire relief. It’s also worth noting that her public pledge is significant not just because she’s probably a pretty decent person, but also because her largest slew of supporters is Australian.
It’s wonderful to see celebrities of all nationalities, statuses and political persuasions pledging financial and in-kind support to our national crisis. But it’s also important for us to consider what’s gone so wrong in our own backyard to require this drive for support. What have our cavalcade of former leaders and their administrations been doing that’s led us here?
We’re mad with grief and loss and shame, and we can’t see past our own faces to realise that criticising a Kardashian for a dunderheaded post on Instagram is not a productive way to own the current climate crisis. Seeking donations from international celebrities is not how we’re going to solve the bushfire catastrophe or slow our climate emergency.
And jumping on the easy target of a foolish post by Kim Kardashian-West doesn’t make anyone look good -- it just means we’re not looking closely at the rhetoric that matters. It means we’re not demanding better from the people who should genuinely be doing better.