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The Kardashians on “10 Most Fascinating People of 2011”—Why?

by Nicole Behnam

December 16, 2011 | 8:58 pm

Donna Svennevik/ABC

“I have never heard more anger and dismay than when we announced that the [Kardashians] were on our list.”
-Barbara Walters

Celebrities are an integral part of our culture. The more we know about their personal lives, the more intrigued we become.  The more they spend, the more we pay attention. The prettier they are, the more envious we grow. And the more they break fundamental moral boundaries, the more we talk about them.

The Kardashians were featured among moguls like Donald Trump and Steve Jobs on Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011 special, which aired Wednesday on ABC. And everyone is wondering: Why?

People are more distracted than ever before from serious news stories regarding current events, politics, and society that are much more significant than shows like “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” which many would argue is a testament to the American culture’s degeneration.

Surely, we would never question why Trump made it onto Walters’ list, or why Amanda Knox, recently acquitted of false charges for murdering her roommate in Italy, is a fascinating candidate, but four women whose lifestyles and values are questionable at best—What was Barbara Walters thinking?

She described their appeal as “a strange mix of trashy sex, upscale excess, tabloid melodrama, and suburban family life.” But this allure goes beyond sex and excess. What makes them fascinating? Our culture’s obsession with their reality roller-coaster ride. They win, they lose. They laugh, they cry. They fall apart, and they fall together.

Perhaps what we really love about the Kardashians is knowing that behind all the glamour and fame and lavish spending are human beings who experience downfalls we would never dream of. I don’t personally know anybody whose marriage lasted less than 72 days, do you? Or someone whose sex tape leaked, for that matter. And Kim still kept moving.

What makes them fascinating is that beyond all the fame, they’re still human.

After all, this wasn’t a special honoring the most influential people—just the most fascinating.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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When Nicole Behnam was 15, she joined the school newspaper and discovered that journalism was one of her passions. To take her passion one step further, she called Brentwood...

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