Existential Gossip

Oct 6 2012 @ 8:28pm

Jenny Diski suggests that Greek tragedy has evolved from the high moral plains of suffering to the status of Kim Kardashian’s thighs:

The death of kings and the appearance of cellulite in young women might not be so incommensurate if the critics are right that part of the function of Greek tragedy was to display the misfortune of the great as catharsis for the populace. Most people won’t accidentally marry their mothers but we are all going to get older. … While gossip seems to belittle tragedy, it also (for better or worse) democratises it –who’s to say that the shiver of inevitable ageing and death felt at the first sign of cellulite is too trivial a signifier of mortality?

Relatedly, Grant McCracken argues that “reality TV makes anthropologists of us all”:

A key feature of anthropology is the long, observational, “ethnographic” interview. Anthropologists believe one of the advantages of this method is that no one can manage appearances, let alone lie, successfully for a long period of time.

So while the Kardashian sisters may wish to create an impression – and the producers edit to reinforce that impression – over many episodes and seasons, the truth will out. Whether they like it or not, eventually we will see into Kardashian souls. That these souls are never as beautiful as the sisters themselves is, well, one of the truths that reality TV makes available to us, and here it performs one of the functions normally dispatched by religious or moral leaders.

Previous Dish on the ills of reality television here and here.