I do not want to write about this. I don’t! I swear to you! But…I. Can’t. Stop. Myself.
Why? Why do I insist on writing about the Kardashians? And her broken marriage?
Bear with me. (Or is it ‘bare’ with me. No. Can’t be that. We don’t want to be naked together). Bear with me. I have a point to make. And it’s a point, actually, about fiction and magic.
Magic doesn’t exist. I’m sorry. It doesn’t. But we WANT it to. And there are magicians out there who are terrific and making us see things we want to see. They’re illusionists. We watch them knowing they’re playing tricks on us, but we go into it willingly because if an illusionist is good, really good, then they make us BELIEVE that magic is actually possible, even if we know deep down it’s not. The trick isn’t about seeing birds appear or disappear. The trick is making us believe the impossible is possible.
I realized this is true with fiction at a young age. I remember telling a story on the playground. I must’ve been in fourth grade. I had a whole group of kids listening to me as I told them about a story where I knocked a kid out and sent him to the hospital. My audience was enthralled. They couldn’t believe it! They laughed. They were shocked! “Really?” they asked me “You did that?” I felt proud of my story. So I told them the truth: I made it all up. I thought they’d commend me on a great story. Instead, the group turned on me. They called me a liar. They were mad at me for making them believe. They were upset that the story wasn’t true. They had wanted THE BELIEF and I took it from them.
This is why people are upset with Kim Kardashian. It isn’t about her or her marriage. It’s that we’re fascinated with reality stars because they’re just human enough to create a fantasy world that we can believe in. We can see ourselves living in a mansion, being beautiful, having crazy exciting things happen, having a wedding that costs ten million dollars. We know the whole thing is a sham…but it’s just real enough to make us believe for a little bit that this kind of life is possible. For a while, we live as them. As disturbing as it is, we ARE the Kardashians.
It’s the relationship of fiction. A world is created the people can visit, inhabit, and feel is real. What happened this week is that the Kardashians said “It’s all fake” even though we all know it’s fake. But by ending the relationship with her husband, Kim Kardashian almost admitted to the sham. She’s a magician who showed the trick to the illusion. And we didn’t want to know the details.
I guess the deeper question to all of this is why do we need fiction at all? I think of it as the way in which I can live multiple lives without repercussions of actually making those choices. In my real life, I’m a mom and a wife. In my imaginary life, I’ve been an explorer, a heroine, a victim, a magician who can save the world. I know it’s not real, but I don’t need anyone to tell me that. I enjoy the fantasy.
I think what happened this week is that Reality TV just admitted that it’s not real. It’s a bit like hearing that Santa Claus is really a metaphor and not an actual person. It’s sobering. It’s sad. But it isn’t anything surprising.
In a while, a new celebrity will rise up and we’ll be able to believe the fantasy all over again. Until then, maybe people should just read some books. There are worlds to inhabit out there where the magic is still very much alive.