I spent the weekend with my parents in suburban MD in advance of the DC Politics and Prose reading tonight, and I made Ruth come too though she had to go back to NY today for work. We had a fun weekend exploring DC’s cultural riches. Jk, we didn’t, instead we ate excellent free food, drank a lot of ice water with crushed ice made by the door of the refrigerator (luxury), did laundry (more luxury), and made my parents buy an Apple TV then downloaded half a season of Orphan Black to it. It’s been amazing and part of me will be sad to go home and confront the reality that I am 32, not 15.
My parents live in a high-rise apartment building. People interact more in elevators here than they do in New York, and also just in general. To be perfectly honest I’m against this, but I’m sure if I lived here I’d get used to it and grow to like it. Coming home on Saturday night from a dinner of delicious sushi, we boarded the elevator with a nicely dressed older couple, a man and a woman. I got on before them so I only saw them from the back. Ruth and I were continuing a conversation we’d been having in the car about Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. I’d started playing it again earlier that day taking a hiatus after I outed myself for having actually spent money on it. I got Ruth to start playing it too because I’m a bad influence and an enabler. I was saying something possibly incoherent about how “being famous for being famous” is not inherently a bad thing and I don’t remember the next part clearly but the nicely dressed older woman said something, unprompted, about Kim and the other Kardashians. Like, that they were “disgusting” or “shameful” or “a shame.”
We were all like “ha ha, okay, good night!” and got off the elevator and everyone else forgot about it immediately but I (obviously) did not and I still feel somewhat enraged.
Leaving aside everything to do with the specifics of Kim Kardashian, The Kardashians, the game, etc, there’s a thing that woman was doing that I have seen happen over and over again and I’ve never known quite what to call it. It’s when there’s a received idea about someone or something, usually a woman or a woman-specific cultural phenomenon, and that received idea is so pervasive and somehow so convincing that most people adopt it as their own opinion without ever stopping to examine either the idea or the person or phenomenon for themselves. In this case the received idea is something along the lines of “The success of Kim and the Kardashians is representative of something very bad and I am against it.” Conveniently, holding this kind of opinion doesn’t conflict with being interested in the woman/phenomenon in question and in consuming media related to her, or even created by her. (“Ugh, it was so horrible. I watched every episode/read the whole thing in a day.”)
Whenever a lot of people think a woman is disgusting or shameful and for some reason feel incentivized to espouse that opinion loudly, something interesting is going on. What I realized in the elevator is that I’m on the side of every girl who people jump to conclusions about. I always want to know more about what’s going on with that girl, because the elevator people are boring and wrong. And really, they are missing out on a lot of fun stuff.