In 1992, over 20 years ago, a rapper made a song that caused a big stir across America. Conservatives boycotted radio stations, women seethed in feminist rage, and MTV (briefly) banned the song and video. What was the song? You guessed it.
Baby. Got. Back.
Now here we are, decades removed from the firestorm that a song that does nothing but drool with explicit tones over a woman's backside. Here we are, in 2014, with Kim Kardashian showing her naked backside off on the cover of a magazine. And it won't cause a wave of anger or protest, but more so chuckles and eye rolls. Why? Because this is something that shocks absolutely no one. Kim K posing nude for a magazine? That's soooooo Kardashian.
And while it's tempting to shrug off the latest Kardashian caricature, it begs the question how low is too low to stoop for fame? Furthermore, does Kim K even see this as stooping low?
The grandiose ego stroking of the whole thing is enough to induce hours of uncontrolled vomiting. Some magazine you've never heard of places the brainchild of a family brand on its cover naked. Photoshopped (or not), fake (or not), all plastic melts when held close enough to heat. So while the delusional minority will see this as fringe art, sexual freedom, and (somehow) empowering to women, who will call Kim K on the carpet with that ugly word "hypocrisy"?
Remember, this is the same Kim Kardashian who gained notoriety by taking part in a sex tape with R&B singer Ray J in 2003, one that eventually was sold off for millions and distributed world wide. Kim's reaction to the whole sex tape fiasco was documented in an interview with Joe La Puma in 2007:
"I have little sisters that hear things at school then come home and ask me questions, and it’s humiliating to have to talk to my nine and 10-year-old sisters and explain to them what certain things mean and what certain things I've done and have to talk to my grandmother, my uncle, my whole dad’s side of the family. My dad would've been mortified and I’m not happy about it. You know, I thought I was gonna marry this guy; we were in a three-year relationship. I didn't think that our personal business would be for the world to see, and frankly it was so many years ago and there were so many different vacations that we’ve gone on that were taped that are all being meshed together to this one tape that they made. I don’t even remember the things that I say and I do in our personal stuff from years ago. It’s humiliating. So no, I would not think twice to – I don’t think that this will come out as something positive for me."
This all sounds ironic considering Kim recently gave birth to a little girl. And now the ideal way to raise her is to make money by posing nude, the very thing she was embarrassed by just years earlier. So the question again: how far is too far?
It would be too easy to just write a piece ripping Kim Kardashian. After all, despite her obvious flaws of ego and self-involvement, she is indeed a savvy business woman who has built a massive brand off of her family and herself. She has stolen the social media spotlight this week, intentionally with a previously derived hashtag #BreakTheInternet. But I don't think the internet is broken Kim. I really think maybe you are the one that's broken.
The Bible has harsh words about enticing others to lust. Harsh...and tragic. "There’s nothing to these people—they’re dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they’re dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they’re addicted to corruption—and they are—they’re enslaved." -2 Peter 2:17-19 (MSG)
The easy thing for detractors to do is cast stones at Kim. The Christlike thing to do I feel is to A) feel sympathy for her and her family, because truly she is enslaved to a brand/business where she feels the need to be a sex symbol, and B) take part in conversations about what lust is, what pride is, and what idolatry is.
Many people tonight are worshiping at the idol of Kim K. Men worship with lustful eyes. Women with jealous feelings. Others with anger and hate. And in spite of it all, Kim Kardashian is still someone that was created in the image of God. It's just a shame she's decided she needs to be a god herself.
Time will pass, and so will the hype over Kim's flaunted bum cover. Just like Baby-Got-Back, the Paper magazine cover will become little more than a raunchy blurb in the pop culture history books. What will remain, however, is a continual slow progression of sexual freedom. Parents' discussions with their teenage sons and daughters around the theme of sexting and nudity will become even more difficult. More and more teenage girls will believe the terrible lie: your worth is directly tied to your physical appearance. Your body, it's curves, it's subtle flaws and perfections are what truly matter. It's a lie that turns prostitutes into prostitutes, strippers into strippers, and porn actresses into porn actresses.
Some will attempt to legitimize Kim K's cover as "expressionist art", when really it's just porn. And with porn, a distinct enslavement occurs, just like with the prostitute, the stripper, and the porn actress. In his book "Dirty Little Secret", Craig Gross asks this pointed question: "What is it about porn that underneath its flashy exterior is so dark, daunting? Various media sources and advocators of sexual freedoms will often scoff at people who raise this question.'You Puritans! You just want control over our behavior.' But look at these denizens of the porn world. Who has any freedom?"
I hope one day Kim Kardashian gets free. Free from the need to strip off clothes for fame. Free from the need to expose herself for magazine covers. Free from the need to rely on nothing but her looks to have a career in this world. Free from promoting porn and false body image.
I pray that instead of breaking the internet, Kim can just break free.