The Kardashian Syndrome

When exactly did I learn all of the names of the Kardashians?

When it comes to watching TV, it’s less a sign of my own good taste than a function of limited time that I’ve never really made it through an entire episode of the Kardashian show. (And by limited time, I mean that I’m probably busy watching Real Housewives.) Thus I’ve never really understood the fame frenzy that surrounds that family*, and never bothered to pay them much attention.

So it was super weird the other night when I dreamed that I was a bridesmaid in Kim Kardashian’s wedding.

It’s troubled me in the days since that some absurd figure in popular culture with little to no redeeming value or meaning in my own life has somehow wriggled not just into my consciousness (how is it can I name all the Kardashians? When did that happen? I used to know all the battles of the Civil War. Now I know what sort of handbag the stepchildren of Bruce Jenner prefer. Oh, woe.), but also into my subconscious. These people are living somewhere in my brain.

Clearly, it’s time to step away from the E! news.

Heretofore, I’ve been an unapologetic defender of a little bad TV and a few gossip rags taken in moderation. I quote loudly and often an old writer pal who used to talk about the importance of balancing our highbrow foie gras with a few lowbrow Froot Loops. (Translation: I read the New Yorker and listen to NPR, dammit, now just let me read this here stack of Us Weeklys without judging, ‘kay?)

But then Kim Kardashian came to me in a dream, like a prophet of an encroaching Kardashination, and now I’m actually a tad worried that the Froot Loops are actually taking up space in my brain (our brains?) where something else should be. Something real. Scientists recently found (well, found again) that watching TV actually lowers your lifespan: How far behind is the study proving that bad TV lowers your IQ? And if the junk I don’t even pay attention to can work its way into my brain waves like this, what is Joan Rivers’s Fashion Police doing to me? Changing my molecular makeup?

I’ve wondered in moments of guilty reflection if the Taliban or the Chinese or some brilliant-but-yet-unknown enemy** planted silly, empty candy like Khloe Kardashian and The Bachelorette to distract us from things of substance, from real life, from things that are good and things that are solid, so that we are all a little stupider, a little more vapid, a little less creative, less introspective, less innovative or less whatever it was that fueled the fires in American hearts in those years before “reality” became a type of show, before America found herself in our current throes of apathy and ignorance and shortsightedness.

Probably not.

No, I’d say that I pretty much have no one but myself to blame for the fact that I somehow know enough stupid celebrity crap to win twelve rounds of Double Jeopardy. Only I wouldn’t win Double Jeopardy, because Alex Trebek is way more likely to ask questions about Civil War battles than E! TV.

And I’m not sure there’s enough foie gras in the world to fix that.


*Well, I have some theories about that, most of which involve Ryan Seacrest and E! Television slowly working their way toward world domination.

**Probably E!