In that opening scene, the digital camera cuts to Kim’s facial reaction to her mother’s banter. Frozen by injectables, the face makes no discernible expressive modification. The surface bears no emotion. She actually is, in the end, a businesswoman, a white entrepreneur of modern blackface. Her sexuality doesn’t compromise her capitalist chops.
Episodically watching the siblings and their friends gossip and perform banal, highly financialized shenanigans—hair braided into corn rows, periodic Ebony buddy in view—brings in your thoughts the century that is 19th. Specifically, the appeal of both novels that are romantic sentimentalist abolitionist literature, genres especially appealing to 19th-century white-lady readers, for who their “parlors were the face of a house.” 12
KUWTK is really a truth show that, like 19th-century abolitionist and romantic literature, conveys white sentimentalism for Ebony objecthood. Plus it conveys this underneath the narrative guise of freedom, repackaged for sundry, multiracialized topic jobs.
The Kardashians have not innovated anything in this regard. They will have stepped in to a categorical adventure dating app place well ready for them by 19th-century US, middle-class white womanhood. This era’s notion of womanhood (as African American studies and art history scholar Jasmine Nichole Cobb argues) was enthusiastic about self-styling, posing, and selectively organizing Ebony people and Black objects visibly in rooms set for entertaining. The Kardashians make the eeriness that is historical of womanhood as well as the artifice of white feminism explicit. (Recall how Kris, Kourtney, and Kim function as constantly emotionally and economically stable, contrary to their variously hystericized male lovers). 13