a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

Kylie Jenner is faking it for you

Kylie Jenner avoiding the paps

Kylie Jenner has a confession: “People think that since we have a reality TV show and I show so much of my life that they know who I am. But on Snapchat I show people what I think they want to see.”

Okay I’m actually writing about a Jenner/Kardashian. Time to start looking for that Fourth Horseman.

But seriously, I thought what she had to say in the recent issue of Allure magazine (my bible, in case you’re wondering) was very relevant to all celebrities, not just those we’re sick of.

Jenner says—surprise, surprise—most of her glamorous life is made up, and that the image she puts forth on all the social media sites is “a projected image. A brand.”

She explains why: “I usually don’t show my true personality to the world, because when you open yourself up so much, there’s more room for people to say things about you.”

Welsey Shaw could relate. The notoriously reclusive star of my novel avoids letting people into her life because for the famous, privacy is the one thing they cannot buy, and at the same time the most valuable commodity.

Some celebs build up a phony social media presence, like the Jenners and Kardashians. Some avoid it all together, like Claire Danes and Jennifer Lawrence. “We work so hard to maintain some sort of life and privacy, why would we intentionally put ourselves out there?” says another Jennifer—Aniston this time.

Back to Kylie.”I can’t remember what it’s like not to be famous. So I’m able to appreciate what true happiness is all about,” she insists. That quote could have come from Welsey Shaw. In another interview, from February, she says she’d like to move out of the spotlight, as Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow and so many others have. “I want to be a businesswoman,” she says in another recent interview, “and be behind the scenes. Kylie Jenner needs to retire.”

Jenners

“People think that because we have a reality TV show that they know everything, but it’s like, I’m not filming right now. That’s maybe 5 percent out of my day.”

This last quote made me think of two movies, one recent and well-known, the other older and obscure. The well-known one is The Truman Show, which had the character Truman Burbank living in a round-the-clock reality show that he thought was his real life. The movie came out just before the deluge of TV shows depicting unscripted people began to appear, and remains astonishingly prescient.

The other, older movie is called Real Life, and it was made by Albert Brooks in 1979. Like most of Brooks’ work, it has slid into obscurity, which is too bad, because it’s brilliant.

The movie is about a TV filmmaker who wants to film a Phoenix family in their everyday life. But he soon discovers that this is pretty dull, so he starts tampering with reality. This raised a question back in 1979 that people in more modern times seem to have forgotten or not realized: how do you portray your intimate “reality,” whatever that is, with a camera operator inches from your nose? The mere presence of a film crew alters how you act, what you do, whether you realize it or not. And there’s no doubt reality shows are heavily tampered with—ever notice how every episode of Masterchef or Undercover Boss follows pretty much the same structure? Brooks knew back in the 1970s that when a camera intrudes, “reality” goes out the window, and we start posing, no matter how much we might think we’re being “natural.”

And eventually it must get wearying. I really, truly believe Kylie Jenner when she says she’s sick of this facade, and wants to chuck it. But so many are drawn to it because it empowers while not really requiring any particular talents. It’s the classic Faustian bargain—give me your soul and I’ll give you whatever “riches” you want. But after a while, many  decide they want to take those souls back. After all, there’s always a fresh supply.

 

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