We Had Two People Argue About Whether The Kardashians Are Good Or Evil

Be honest: Do you keep up with the Kardashians?

It’s a question that almost always triggers two very different responses. Either you’re a mega-fan, impressed by their hustle and into their aesthetic, or you think that they’re the worst of America’s obsession with celebrity: vapid, narcissistic, and dumb. Sure, there are the in-betweeners. But on the internet, there are only two camps: Kardashian lovers or Kardashian haters.

It’s fascinating that one family can simultaneously inspire so much vitriol and affection. So we decided to pick the brains of a Kardashian lover and Kardashian hater: Refinery29 senior fashion editor Erin Cunningham spoke about her appreciation for the Kardashians while Refinery29 UX & product designer Sarah Azpeitia spoke about her distaste for the family.

The rules were simple: We sent both women questions on a range of Kardashian-related issues—that included their relationships, their status as influencers, their feminism, and obsession with fame. The end result was an insightful look at why people love and hate this family.

Ahead, the opinions of two women who love and loathe the Kardashian family.

Editor’s note: These answers have been edited for length and clarity.


How would you describe the Kardashian brand?

Erin: “The Kardashian brand is multi-faceted: It’s about family, fame, and female empowerment. It takes the notion that you can turn nothing into something, and, as I like to say, is a prime example of how you can fuck things up in your 20s (Hi, Kim) and still make it out on top. For many, the Kardashian brand has so many negative connotations, and I totally understand that.

“For me, however, I see their oversharing, unfiltered attitude towards, well, everything, to be refreshing. In today’s celebrity culture, stars beg for privacy, and when they are put on display, they can seem so unrelatable. The Kardashians are the opposite of that.”

Photo: Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock.


How would you describe the Kardashian brand?

Sarah: “I would describe the Kardashian family and any coverage related to it, as the biggest social distraction of our generation. The volume of articles, coverage, and editorials dedicated to them is a massive amount of noise in our already packed ‘content-generation.'”

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.


How would you describe the Kardashians’ rise to fame?

Erin: “There are two things we can’t deny that have contributed to the Kardashian’s level of success. 1. The O.J. Simpson trial, and 2. Kim Kardashian’s sex tape.

“To me, it’s brilliant that they were able to monetize something as simple as their daily familial interactions through television (in a time where that type of reality show felt refreshing, in a sea of things like Fear Factor, Survivor, etc.)

“I also respect their hustle: In the early days (and honestly, even now) they weren’t afraid of doing a club appearance or endorsing a random product in order to get their faces out there. The best part? No one ever thought the Herve Leger-wearing, Paris Hilton-closet-cleaning Kim Kardashian would ever be accepted into the fashion community. And then she ended up on the cover of Vogue. Talk about making your dreams a reality.”

Photo: Araldo di Crollalanza/REX/Shutterstock.


How would you describe the Kardashians’ rise to fame?

Sarah: “As a direct reflection of our generation’s cultural fabric and values. Opportunistic accidental, sensationalist snowball–journalism effect.”

Photo: Picture Perfect/REX/Shutterstock.


What do you think the Kardashians teach us about America’s obsession with fame?

Erin: “The thing is, they’re not so much redefining fame as they are embracing the way that the average person acts. Think of how many times we use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, etc., throughout the day. And then think of how many celebrities utilize it just as much.

“They proved that people want to keep up (no pun intended) with their favorite stars in the same capacity that they do with their BFF. They also want to feel like the people they look up to and admire are real, and, that’s exactly what the Kardashians have so seamlessly accomplished.”

Photo: Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock.


What do you think the Kardashians teach us about America’s obsession with fame?

Sarah: “I think ‘teach’ overestimates the long-term impact or contributions they have on society at large, so I’d prefer to use the word ‘demonstrate’.”

Photo: Marc Piasecki/GC Images.


How would you describe their TV shows ( Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, Rob & Chyna, etc.)?

Erin: “Epic. Hilarious. But also, I am a connoisseur of bad reality TV of sorts (shout-out, Real Housewives of New York City), so I’m probably the wrong person to ask.

“To me, the biggest issue with their show is that by the time we see certain episodes, we already know these things have happened because of the media. (i.e. Lamar’s overdose, Blac Chyna and Rob’s engagement).”

Photo: Courtesy of E! Entertainment.


How would you describe their TV shows ( Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, Rob & Chyna, etc.)

Sarah: “As a distraction that feeds into an audience’s desire to passively observe, perpetuating our attraction towards voyeurism and celebrity.”

Photo: Courtesy of E! Entertainment.


What do you think about the Kardashians as businesswomen?

Erin: “Like I said before — they prove that all one really needs is the hustle.”

Photo: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock.


What do you think about the Kardashians as businesswomen?

Sarah: “They’ve capitalized on their name as a brand, and from a brand perspective they have successfully built and capitalized on opportunities around them, wherever there have been any.

“I do respect the appearance they portray of themselves as a family led, and driven, by women who have risen together.”

Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.


How have the Kardashians influenced fashion? Do you think it’s been for better or worse?

Erin: “As a fashion editor, it’s actually insane to see how much this family has influenced the industry. There’s the retail factor: A piece worn by Kim, Kendall, or Kylie will immediately sell out, regardless of price.

“There’s the runway factor: Designers like Olivier Rousteing at Balmain have literally created collections inspired by their aesthetic. And there’s the editorial factor: They’ve covered practically every international magazine cover and sparked trends [and] phenomenon.”

Photo: Swan Gallet/WWD/REX/Shutterstock.


How have the Kardashians influenced fashion? Do you think it’s been for better or worse?

Sarah: “In terms of family influence in the ‘fashion elite’ world, I believe we wouldn’t really know the true impact of said influence until it’s retrospective.

“If 10 years or 20, even 30 years from now, that generation looks back and can still appreciate any of what they ‘are’ now, then I’d say – yes, this was meaningful in a generational, pop-culture extent.

“If it doesn’t stand the test of time, then it will have been just another fad, like the Beanie Babies.”

Photo: Giovanni Giannoni/WWD/REX/Shutterstock.


How have the Kardashians changed beauty expectations? Do you associate them with a specific beauty trend or concept?

Erin: “Contouring! But other than that, I literally don’t wear makeup and know nothing about the beauty industry!”

Photo: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock.


How have the Kardashians changed beauty expectations? Do you associate them with a specific beauty trend or concept?

Sarah: “Yes, excessive image modification, hyper-narcissism. There is a single event that was of particular concern to me –it’s when girls were puckering their lips with a shot glass? Or something similar, clearly to have ‘fuller’ lips.

“It was not only harmful and dangerous — plus painful, I imagine — but it reflects how hundreds of young girls are trying to emulate a person who is solely focused on selling a hyper-sexualized version of women and femininity.

“And when I use the word ‘selling,’ I am not referring to a monetary transaction, specifically, but the impact of how ‘likes’ and social-media acceptance is a way for these celebrities to capitalize themselves, which actually does make it an industry with a cash value attached to it.”

Photo: KCR/REX/Shutterstock.


The Kardashians — specifically, Khloé and Kylie — are often called out for cultural appropriation. Do you think that they realize it’s an error? Or do they just not care?

Erin: “I think, when you live in a type of bubble that they do, you don’t even realize what you’re doing wrong.”

Photo: Michael Stewart/WireImage.


The Kardashians — specifically, Khloé and Kylie — are often called out for cultural appropriation. Do you think that they realize it’s an error? Or do they just not care?

Sarah: “I think they’ve been allowed to get away with it by pleading ignorance or one could only assume that they appropriate all the more to feed into the effect of publicity around it.”

Photo: Broadimage/REX/Shutterstock.


This family has a very complex relationship with race — whether it’s a conversation about their bodies, their outfits, their hairstyles or their partners. What do you think their relationship or understanding of race, racism, and appropriation is like?

Erin: “I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this one. I think they need to be more aware of appropriation.”

Photo: Alo Ceballos/GC Images.


This family has a very complex relationship with race — whether it’s a conversation about their bodies, their outfits, their hairstyles or their partners. What do you think their relationship or understanding of race, racism, and appropriation is like?

Sarah: I don’t know if they are so embracive to all people and races that they cannot tell when they’re culturally appropriating, or if it’s so second nature that they don’t notice they are infringing on cultural identity.

“It is, however, hypocritical at-large of certain cultural and racial idiosyncrasies to take notice and occupy the spotlight when a person who is not of that background puts it in the spotlight — then for the public to embrace it and acknowledge it (‘likes’ again; validation again), then criticize the very subjects they are validating in the first place.”

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.


Some celebrities, like Demi Lovato for example, credit the Kardashians with popularizing curvy bodies. Do you agree? And do you think they play a role in body-positivity?

Erin: “Yes! Yes! Yes! This is my number one argument for why I love the Kardashians. They proved that you can have curves and still wear high-fashion!”

Photo: Samantha Nandez/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.


Some celebrities, like Demi Lovato for example, credit the Kardashians with popularizing curvy bodies. Do you agree? And do you think they play a role in body positivity?

Sarah: “I don’t believe they are torch bearers on body-positivity when they’ve been prominently known for altering their appearance so as to find their own appearance embraceable, proliferated, and popularized.”

Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock.


Kim Kardashian has advocated for gun control and confirmed she’s voting for Hillary Clinton. Do you think the Kardashians have any role to play in politics?

Erin: “If a celebrity is what it takes to encourage young voters to pay attention to the election and what’s going on the world, then more power to them.”

Photo: REX/Shutterstock.


Kim Kardashian has advocated for gun control and confirmed she’s voting for Hillary Clinton. Do you think the Kardashians have any role to play in politics?

Sarah: “I believe that any citizen who has the initiative to have informed and educated political opinions should manifest them.”

Photo: Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock.


Do you think the Kardashians are informed? Their defenders would argue that Kim Kardashian is informed based ontweets about gun control and herstance on the Armenian genocide . Do you agree?

Erin: “I think she is informed and genuinely cares about the issues she speaks up about. And, frankly, she has been the sole celebrity pioneer regarding Armenian genocide awareness, and I really respect that she is utilizing her platform for good.”

Photo: Via @KimKardashian.


Do you think the Kardashians are informed? Their defenders would argue that Kim Kardashian is informed based ontweets about gun control and herstance on the Armenian genocide . Do you agree?

Sarah: “I think when there is history that affects you especially, it is your obligation to be informed, so I’d commend her on voicing her opinion in regards to the Armenian genocide.

“However these subjects are both (including gun control), vast in complexity, implications, and their effect on a political and social panorama at-large.

“Participating in the conversation is one step, to pursue any type of initiative or become civically engaged is another. I think if you become informed and educated enough, then you cannot help but actively engage.”

Photo: KAREN MINASYAN/AFP/Getty Images and Photo: Courtesy of KimKaradashian.com


What do you think about Kimye and their well-documented relationship? Do you think it’s real or for the cameras?

Erin “Kim and Kanye have a very Drake and Rihanna-style relationship. (In my mind, at least) Kanye has always been in love with Kim, but she was always on the sports player track.

“Because Kanye is so private and Kim is so public, I feel like they are perfect for each other. And I genuinely believe they are in love (sorry, I’m a hopeless romantic).”

Photo: Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock.


What do you think about Kimye and their well-documented relationship? Do you think it’s real or for the cameras?

Sarah: “I don’t follow their relationship closely for two reasons: 1. I respect their privacy, and 2. I really don’t care.

“But, I believe all is fair in love and war, and only the people involved in the relationship can truly point to and embrace the complexity and beauty of two people in love.”

Photo: Owen Kolasinski/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.


What do you think about Kylie and Tyga’s relationship (which started with controversy since they started dating while she was a minor and he was 25)?

Erin: “I love them, and I think they seem genuinely happy. People get mad because she was a teenager when they started dating (and I get that), but let’s be real, she’s not a normal teenager by any standards. So why would she have a normal teenage relationship?”

Photo: MCP/REX/Shutterstock.


What do you think about Kylie and Tyga’s relationship (which started with controversy since they started dating while she was a minor and he was 25)?

Sarah: “If they have an open approach to relationships, I can’t condemn nor commend a family for having a set of values around which they revolve. I have no business in assessing or playing judge in anyone’s familial relationships.”

Photo: Clint Spaulding/WWD/REX/Shutterstock.


Kim Kardashian said she’s not a feminist, but she has said she wants women to be able to make their own choices. Do you think the Kardashians are feminists?

Erin: “Yes! I once interviewed Rowan Blanchard, and she told me that she doesn’t think it’s fair that celebrities are asked such hard-hitting questions like this, because oftentimes they’re not completely informed. And I think this is a prime example of that.”

Photo: Theo Wargo/NBCUniversal/ Getty Images.


Kim Kardashian said she’s not a feminist, but she has said she wants women to be able to make their own choices. Do you think the Kardashians are feminists?

Sarah: “I think women who exploit their own image and proliferate a specific idea of how women should conform, think, look, or behave, aren’t feminists in the first place.”

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/ Corbis/ Getty Images.


Should we consider the Kardashians to be role models? Why or why not?

Erin: “Role model is a loose term. I once told my mother I really look up to Kim Kardashian, and she told me she wished I had higher aspirations for myself. But I couldn’t disagree with her more. At the end of the day, she is a business woman. She is an entrepreneur. And she is her own biggest fan.

“To make it in this world, you don’t necessarily need to have a tangible talent; you need to have self-confidence and self-awareness, and the ability to convince people why you deserve something.

“Though I’ve never met her in person, I am convinced that she is the kindest. How else would she be able to turn people who once shit on her into her biggest fans? You don’t get that way by being a bitch.”

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.


Should we consider the Kardashians to be role models? Why or why not?

Sarah: “I believe it’s up to each individual to chose their own role models, so I do not intend to impose any of my personal views.

“However, I do not consider them to be role models, for the multiple reasons I’ve mentioned [prior]. I don’t consider them a genuine, true beacon of humanity. It’s like they prefer the spectacle to overshadow their human side.”

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.


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