In America, we’re used to entertainment mixing with politics. Ronald Regan and Arnold Schwarzenegger dabbled in both, which generated huge waves during their times. But 2018 is a whole different matter. What started out as tongue-in-cheek comedy, reality tv has created a whole new pool of celebrities that are actually influencing the political climate.
Recently Kim Kardashian has taken up a new role as a prison reform activist, having successfully aided in the release of Alice Johnson from prison. Controversially working in alignment with the Trump family, the social media maven went where no reality star went before.
Though we all assumed it was a one-time incident, Kim was hungry for more influence.
Speaking on the Wrongful Conviction podcast, she revealed her involvement with inmate Chris Young, who was sentenced to life for possession of marijuana and cocaine. “Yesterday, I had a call with a gentleman that’s in prison for a drug case—got life. It’s so unfair. He’s 30 years old. He’s been in for almost 10 years," Page Six exclusively reported. Young’s sentence was deemed by many, including former Tennessee Judge Kevin Sharp for being unfair.
“I was on the phone with the judge that sentenced him to life,” Kim told Page Six in an interview. “who resigned because he had never been on the side of having to do something so unfair, and now he is fighting [alongside] us to get [Young] out.” Kim revealed that she’s contacted both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner for assistance.
The irony being that Donald Trump himself advocates for the death sentence for drug dealers, which he believes will drop drug-related crimes. (Neither Johnson nor Young was convicted for drug dealing or trafficking.) During the Johnson case, Twitter poked fun at Kim’s involvement, questioning her competence.
But the bigger question at hand is: when did the boundary between politics and entertainment in America become blurred? Even Trump was once a reality tv star, with his own infamous catchphrase of "You’re fired."
When Kim Kardashian first came into the scene, she was a young woman that got her start on a reality show on E!. Paired with the help of then-boss Paris Hilton’s fame and momager extraordinaire Kris Jenner, the ex-personal assistant/closet organizer turned into one of America’s most notorious celebrities. From fragrance launches to fashion projects, the reality star followed a predictable pathway trailed blazed by predecessors. Sure Paris Hilton once joked about running for president, but as you can see, Kardashian West is serious.
But the moment Trump took office, it marked the beginning of a new era. An era where prerequisites like political experience and legal education flew out the window, being replaced by Twitter follower numbers and meme-worthy catchphrases. It’s still hard to believe that the man who used to host Celebrity Apprentice now meets with global leaders like Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Xi Jinping.
And while it’s easy to laugh at the absurdity of it all, a more ominous tone lingers.
While Kim Kardashian herself is doing fantastic work at helping convicted felons obtain justice, her ability to become so involved signifies that without any formal training, education or even experience, what does this mean for the future of American politics?
Are we entering an age where political stability can be overthrown by a simple tweet? Will E!, TLC, and Bravo become equally important to consume as MSNBC, CNN, and NPR?
Frankly, I don’t know.
But while we ask existentialist questions about American politics, Kim Kardashian is lobbying for the release of Chris Young. And judging by her previous successes, Young will be a free agent soon.