Spaced out: Why is Kim Kardashian famous?
Explain a bit of U.S. pop culture to ET
Have you ever had an imaginary conversation with aliens?
Fine, probably not. But what if you could? What if those foreign creatures landed on Earth in a sparkly, spherical spaceship resembling a disco ball searching for answers to confounding questions such as: “Who is Kim Kardashian, and why does she have a popular mobile app game?”
A question like that may seem silly but, as casual observers of a society from afar, aliens don’t care about our politics, religion and basic needs because they aren’t human and have their own beliefs.
What they may be intrigued by, however, are those trivial things in pop culture that have minimal effect on health and safety but offer insight into the ideas, perspectives and images that permeate a culture to differentiate us from them.
So if aliens ever land on Earth looking to converse, we offer up three questions they might ask about modern-day, American pop culture, along with a guess as to how that imaginary conversation would go.
(Note: These aliens are intelligent but simple, naïve but logical, and understand what TVs, music and celebrities are but not why we like or care about them. Think: sophisticated ET.)
WHY KIM KARDASHIAN?
Aliens: Who is Kim Kardashian and why does she have a popular mobile app game?
Melinda Mawdsley: Kim Kardashian is a famous woman who stars on a TV show about her family called “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” She has one daughter and is married to famous rapper Kanye West and in late June released a mobile app, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” a game where users can create their own celebrity personas and rise to fame and fortune by shopping and going to parties. It’s one of the most popular free apps on iTunes, but there are charges for in-game add-ons. For example, a fake medium cash stack is $9.99.
Aliens: Why is she so famous?
Mawdsley: A sex tape of her and her then-boyfriend Ray J was leaked in 2007, the same year (shocking!) she and her family agreed to be on the reality TV show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” She has parlayed that fame into other successful business ventures and is currently married to West, who told GQ magazine recently that “In order to win at life, you need some Kim K skills. Period.”
Aliens: So she first became famous for releasing a sex tape?
Aliens: What has that got to do with making a mobile app game?
Mawdsley: Nothing. It’s just that she’s now a celebrity and “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” lets people become their own star, like her, buying clothes and houses and you can “date and dump celebs at the best parties and hottest clubs!” according to iTunes.
Aliens: And this is a popular game?
Mawdsley: People want to be famous.
Aliens: By releasing a sex tape and buying stuff?
Mawdsley: We should probably move on.
IGGY AZALEA, WHO?
Aliens: Tell us about Iggy Azalea. How is she just like the Beatles?
Mawdsley: Azalea and the Beatles are the only music artists to have the first two songs they released in the United States go 1-2 on the Billboard Hot 100, largely considered the authority on each week’s most popular current songs because it looks at radio, sales and streaming activity. Songs are “current” if they’re newly-released, or receive widespread airplay and/or sales activity for the first time, according to billboard.com.
The Beatles did this for six weeks in 1964 with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You.” Azalea accomplished this for five weeks this summer with “Fancy” and “Problem,” a collaboration with Ariana Grande.
Aliens: Why are these artists the only two to accomplish this?
Mawdsley: That’s a good question. I don’t know.
Aliens: Are the Beatles and Azalea similar musicians?
Mawdsley: Not exactly. The members of the Beatles, English pop stars before “pop star” was a thing, were cultural phenomenons and made up one of the greatest, if not the greatest, bands of all-time for its popularity, innovative sound and song substance. The band actually had the top five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of April 4, 1964, a feat not accomplished since.
Azalea is a 24-year-old Australian rapper, who isn’t the first female rapper on the scene but is certainly one of the few. Her first chart topper, “Fancy” is about how fancy she is, while swearing and not worrying “‘bout no haters,” so that song is pretty deep. Her second chart topper, “Problem,” is actually an Ariana Grande song featuring Azalea. That song is about having one less problem now that their man is out of their lives.
Aliens: Will Azalea will go down in history like the Beatles?
Mawdsley: The Beatles were new and their sound resonated in the 1960s, but the group has remained historically great. Azalea, to her credit, is a pretty unique sound for summer 2014, but it’s far too early to say if she’ll go down in history as one of the greatest bands of all time. I’m guessing, no.
WHAT ‘BACHELOR IN PARADISE?’
Aliens: When watching TV from our disco ball spaceship, we keep seeing ads for this new reality show called “Bachelor in Paradise.” Tell us more about this show.
Mawdsley: With pleasure. I’m sort of an expert on “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and this show is a spin-off of those popular shows. This, however, is where the similarities end.
The premise of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” which I love, is to give one person the opportunity to meet and date 25 men or women, depending on the season, and eliminate people weekly to end up with the person they love. It’s like a chick flick but a TV show instead.
The premise of “Bachelor in Paradise,” which I’ve never seen before because it premiers Monday, Aug. 4, is to give former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants a chance to hold on to their 15 minutes of fame and all live, drink and wear swimsuits in Tulum, Mexico, while letting cameras capture the drama.
In other words, the ABC network needed to fill summer programming and host Chris Harrison wanted something to do, preferably in a warm, sunny locale.
Aliens: Are they looking for true love on “Bachelor in Paradise?”
Mawdsley: If by “true” you mean episode-by-episode and by “love” you mean “luv,” then, yes.
Aliens: What’s the difference between “love and “luv?”
Mawdsley: “Love” is real. “Luv” depends on how much alcohol a person has had to drink, what mood he or she is in and if someone better comes along the next week.
Aliens: So it’s more of a dating show with semi-famous people in swimsuits?
Mawdsley: Yes. And they are only famous for getting dumped on national television and because ABC keeps displaying their faces at every opportunity to remind us of who these people are.
Aliens: Thank you for bringing me up to speed on three pressing, pop culture questions we had regarding American fame, music and TV.
Mawdsley: Are you impressed with this country or what?
Aliens: Oh, look at the time. Sorry, we’ve got a, um, thing to get to.