Kim Kardashian, LeBron James, And The Modern Superstar

I’ve read two simply awesome articles this week and I’d like to share them with you now before we go any further.  The first is a review of Esquire writer Scott Raab’s new book which is set to be released November 15th.  You might know Raab as the man who has taken to the internet to completely annihilate LeBron James for his decision to leave Cleveland.  Not so coincidentally that’s also the topic of his book.  The second piece is by Grantland writer Molly Lambert and is a complex take on the Kim Kardashian divorce situation that looks into the possibility that Kim’s mom Kris is the mastermind behind the empire.  I highly recommend reading both before proceeding as you might have the same light bulb going off in the head moment that I did (on top of it being way easier to understand where I’m coming from).

I know it seems unlikely that these two random events could possibly relate to each other, but they do.  The review of Raab’s book, despite being excellent, is quite long.  But if you stick with the whole thing, the most revealing aspect about LeBron James comes out near the end in which the writer says:

LeBron, at least to us, went to bed every night happy knowing he’d wake up, be 6’9, built like a god, and the most talented basketball player on the planet, that he’d have enough money for 10 lifetimes, that he’d get to spend his free time doing whatever business he wanted to do with his best friends, that he had two healthy children and a devoted life partner.  He made that clear when he played his last NBA game to date, and gave Mr. Raab the money quote he needed to justify his loathing of LeBron after two and a half years of researching a book about him and nearly a full year of hating him with every last fiber of his being: the instantly-infamous quote about how, win or lose, LeBron James’ life would still be better the next day than the lives of the people who enjoyed watching him fail. Even at LeBron’s lowest moment, his absolute lowest moment, the moment where he let down almost everyone who had ever supported for the second time in less than 12 months, he found himself completely unable to look in the mirror and see anything wrong.

You remember it. It was the single most revealing thing LeBron James has said in public. Ever. It was the first time we got a glimpse of how his mind ticks and what he is setting out to accomplish.  If you still don’t recall it, here you go:

Your first immediate reaction was probably to call him a dick, and, if you did so, no one would blame you. It was the most “eff you” answer in the history of press conferences. No but seriously, consider what he said. He clearly implies that he’s not affected by the loss along with letting us know that we all have to return to the real world (while implying that he never will).

Basketball, to LeBron James, is simply the means by which he plans on accomplishing his ultimate goal which is to earn as much money as possible and have as much fun as he can with his friends and family. It’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re a die hard sports fan: the idea that an athlete really doesn’t care about you or the way he made you feel, much less the on-the-court results.  LeBron James cares about making money and being with his family/friends and that’s it though.  And you’re mistaken if you think his outlook is some sort of psychopathic or cynical worldview.  Apathy is what is really is.


I’m not sure if you’ve heard the theory that LeBron and his friends are out to live the real life version of HBO’s Entourage.  For those who haven’t seen the show, the basic plot is that a good looking guy from Queens, New York hits it big in LA as an A-list actor and brings his three best friends along for the ride.  They essentially go crazy through LA with women, drugs, and booze and everything always ends up right in the end, no matter how crazy the predicaments get.  Even if LeBron isn’t intentionally trying to mimic the story, it’s easy to see the parallels.  We all know about his best friend Maverick and LRMR marketing.  If ever there was a real life version of the show, this is it.

The goal for LeBron, as for Vincent Chase and his boys in Entourage, seems to be to live the life of the rich and famous, or at least their own fantasy of how the rich and famous live, whether or not it comes anywhere near reality.

Is there a reality for the rich and famous?


Enter Molly Lambert’s piece on the Kardashian divorce.  And for the record, she’s the best writer contributing at Grantland write now.  I consume every one of her pieces in like .02 seconds and wish they’d expand her role so that she was writing more often.  I digress though.  In the Kardashian piece, Lambert writes the following:

The Kardashians aim to sell a cartoonish super-fantasy version of what “real life” is like for the rich and famous, but what kind of a person aims to stay famous by setting a world record for quickie divorces? It’s the ultimate expression of superficiality. It says “f— you, emotional intimacy! I love diamonds.” They should have dedicated the wedding to Nate Dogg (RIP). That Kim had her “fantasy wedding” to a groom she barely knew is sad. That he was relentlessly emasculated in the tabloids for supposedly spending her money during the NBA lockout and being less famous than Reggie Bush is stupid. That they got divorced is not very surprising. Who wants to have Kim Kardashian’s life? Does Kim?

The tie between LeBron and Kardashian is obviously the allusion of the “realness” of the lives of the rich and famous.  It’s the motive for everything they do in life and it’s likely an unattainable goal, a Gatsby-ian world view of what success in life really is.  The American dream is no longer about hard work, risk, or individualism but is now corrupted into some warped version of making money in whatever way possible, most especially the easiest way possible.

Whatever your take on the Kardashian divorce, I just want to lay out a couple of facts.  They are presented without judgement: Kim made $18 million off that wedding from E! before expenses.  The whole engine that keeps the Kardashian empire running is their reality TV series on that channel.  That reality show now has one hell of a plot for its next season.  Most celebrities choose to release divorce information on Friday evenings at the end of news cycles so as to mitigate any exposure to bad press and negative perception from fans.  Kim Kardashian released news of her divorce at about 8 AM Monday morning, which just so happens to be the beginning of the news cycle.  About an hour before the divorce news broke, Kim tweeted about the opening of a new Kardashian store in Vegas, which millions of fans no doubt viewed when they went to check her Twitter page that day to see if she had commented on the divorce news yet.  Kim’s mom Kris revealed this week that she’s going to release a book detailing information she knows about the OJ trial.

Now, whether you think this was the longest con in American pop culture history or a series of extraordinary coincidences doesn’t really make a difference to me.  What’s fascinating is this idea of making fantasy a reality and how it’s seemingly the motivation for everything LeBron James and Kim Kardashian do in life.

Think for a second about any rich or famous people you might know in your own life.  While I personally don’t know any famous people, I do know quite a few rich people, as you probably do yourself.  Do their lives in any way resemble the lives Kim or LeBron live out?  The answer is hell no!  Nobody lives like that.  It’s impossible, at least in the long term.  No one can possibly earn the amount of wealth it would take to sustain that kind of lavish lifestyle that we see the Kardashians live on the show or we hear LeBron brag about in a press conference.  Many have given it one hell of a shot, but in the end they all either 1) run out of money 2) become irrelevant 3) die or 4) live any combination of the previous three.

But what does this tell us about LeBron James and Kim Kardashian?  Are they making some sort of misguided attempt at immortality?  Will they ever really be able to say they achieved their dreams?  Let’s see if I can’t Chuck Klosterman this.


Before we wrap this up, let’s see if we can’t glean anything from Kim’s apology letter to her “fans.”  The best part, for my purposes, is the end of the note:

I share so much of my life on a reality show, that contemplating whether to even film my wedding was a tough decision to make, and maybe it turned out to not be the smartest decision. But it’s who I am! We filmed Kourtney giving birth, Khloe getting married, break ups, make ups, our best moments and our worst moments. These were all real moments. That’s what makes us who we are. We share, we give, we love and we are open! Everyone that knows me knows that I’m a hopeless romantic! I love with all of my heart and soul. I want a family and babies and a real life so badly that maybe I rushed in to something too soon. I believed in love and the dream of what I wanted so badly. I felt like I was on a fast roller coaster and couldn’t get off when now I know I probably should have. I got caught up with the hoopla and the filming of the TV show that when I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn’t know how to and didn’t want to disappoint a lot of people. I’m being honest here and I hope you respect my courage because this isn’t easy to go through. But I do know that I have to follow my heart. I never had the intention of hurting anybody and I accept full responsibility for my actions and decisions, and for taking everyone on this journey with me. It just didn’t turn out to be the fairy tale I had so badly hoped for.

My first observation: she has fans?  My second observation: look how many times the words “real” and “reality” come up in that apology especially as juxtaposed with the idea of a dream/fantasy/fairy tale.  If ever you thought Kim Kardashian didn’t know exactly what she was doing, there’s your proof.  She’s famous because more than any individual right now, she sells the allusion of living out a female version of a perfect fantasy life.  It’s the postmodern Disney princess story and she is more than aware of it, hence her insistance that it’s all real (read: acheiveable by anyone).

By the same token, LeBron James is likely the best athlete on planet earth right now, and definitely the most recognizable.  He’s famous because more than any other individual right now, he sells the allusion of living out  a male version of a perfect fantasy life.  Basketball does have something to do with it, but not everything to do with it, which is important.  He lives the postmodern male idea of what success is.  Want to fly all over the globe partying, gambling, and hanging with your best friends without any personal responsibility whatsoever?  Buy these Nikes and you too can be LeBron James!

It’s the extension of what Michael Jordan first perfected in the 1990s, only this time around, you don’t need to actually achieve anything in the classical sense of that word.  Being in front of the camera, whether for a reality television show or a basketball game is all that matters.  It’s like the corporations all came to this fascinating realization that your average American doesn’t dream of actually being a princess or actually winning an NBA championship.  That’s too hard.

No, what they likely realized is that your average American wants all the perceived perks that come with being the queen of reality television (shopping, designing your own fashion line, creating your own perfume, marrying prince charming in an expensive wedding, etc) or the perceived perks of being a basketball player (going out to the clubs every night with other basketball players, drinking for free, sleeping with an endless list of gorgeous girls in different cities, and oh yeah getting paid to mess around and get a triple double).

And perhaps the real lesson hidden by LeBron and Kim’s lifestyles is not that there’s some deeper meaning to any of this.  Maybe it’s just important that you’re aware that they’re aware.


Kim Kardashian Will Divorce Kris Humphries

Lolz. From TMZ:

Kim Kardashian will file for divorce this morning, after 72 days of not-so-wedded bliss to Kris Humphries … TMZ has learned.

We’re told even though the marriage was short, she will not seek an annulment. It’s a garden variety divorce, in which Kim cites “irreconcilable differences.”

We’re told the date of separation is listed as today, Oct. 31, 2011.

Kim has hired disso-queen Laura Wasser, who has repped the likes of Britney Spears, Maria Shriver, Angelina Jolie, Ryan Reynolds, and Robyn Gibson, Mel’s almost ex-wife.

As we first reported, the couple has a prenuptial agreement … Kim made sure of that.

NEVER saw this coming…



Elin Nordegren Is Dating Again

Good for her.  From the New York Post:

Heartbroken Elin Nordegren has found love again with wealthy American investor Jamie Dingman, Page Six can exclusively reveal.

Elin, who divorced cheating golf great Tiger Woods following a series of scandals with multiple women, has been dating Dingman, the son of billionaire Michael Dingman, for months.

Friends say Jamie is an accomplished emerging-markets veteran who has represented his father’s interests in China for the past six years. In the mid-1990s, he specialized in Russian private equity funds. He also owned an Indy car-racing team sponsored by World Childhood Foundation, a charity founded by Queen Silvia of Sweden.

Jamie also headed a failed bid to buy Volvo from Ford Motor Co. His father is a longtime board member of Ford.

The charming bachelor has previously dated Bridget Moynahan, mother of Tom Brady’s baby. He was linked last year to Princess Madeleine of Sweden, but sources tell us they were just friends. He splits his time between China and the Bahamas and recently spent time with Elin in Florida and in Sweden.

The Swedish press recently reported that Elin was having a cozy rendezvous with her then-unidentified lover at her luxury apartment in Stockholm. They were spotted outside of Elin’s home on Tuesday.

Friends say he and Elin met at the Red Cross Ball in Florida last January attended by Princess Madeleine.

Athlete’s wives always rebound with the billionaires.

[New York Post]