‘Keep Making Money’

If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest twists in the personal life of Kim Kardashian (it’s OK to admit it), she and her husband of less than three months, Kris Humphries, have filed for divorce.

This isn’t normally a topic worthy of consideration for this blog – although Kardashian does sound like the name of an ancient Near Eastern ruler, come to think of it – but reading stories like this one about the insane amount of money thrown around Kardashian’s ultimately meaningless wedding is sobering:

Kardashian’s divorce could be good for her “business”, which for the uninitiated precious few includes multiple TV shows, clothing lines, and brand endorsements of products ranging from perfume to booze.

Well, she certainly made her wedding work for her: while it is said to have cost $10 million, it was all paid for by sponsorships and tie-ins, from freebie $20,000 Vera Wang gowns (she wore three) to a deeply discounted $2 million Lorraine Schwartz ring. …

As for Kim Kardashian herself, she’s laughing all the way to the proverbial bank. The New York post pinned her earnings from the wedding at $17.9 million, a figure derived from adding up her various sponsorship deals and freebies. That’s overly simplistic, given the amount she’d have had to shell out to Jenner and various agents for their cuts. But this is a woman who made $12 million the year before her wedding extravaganza and charged $2,500 entry to her birthday party, so we can’t underestimate her money-making abilities. Using the $17.9 million figure as a crude estimate, Kim raked in just under $250,000 a day, and over $10,000 an hour, for her 72-day marriage.

And her brand won’t suffer either. Her next E! series on life as a married woman is already in the can, and as executive producer, she has the ability to go back and edit that footage to cast herself in a positive light. “Kris Humphries will look like a complete jerk,” Piazza predicts. “That’s what will end up saving her brand. It doesn’t matter; she’ll keep making money.

Is there anything that screams, “America!” more than that last sentence?

A couple of somewhat related thoughts came to my mind while reading this article.

First, maybe it’s time we as Christians got over gay marriage. For all the unproven concern about gay marriage being the downfall of the traditional family, marriages-for-money like Kim Kardashian’s or drunk Las Vegas nuptials like Britney Spears’ are far more damaging.

Let me put it this way. As an impressionable teenager taking cues about what it means to love and marry in 21st century America, which image is more damaging: Kim Kardashian raking in the bucks off a three-month marriage or two guys from the Village finally exchanging vows after decades of loving monogamy?

Second, maybe it’s time we as Christians got a little more outraged over the use of money in our culture. It’s not my intent to use this blog as the scold police, telling you what you should be outraged about. But if you have any concern about the plight of the poor in this country or others, if images from Haiti or Somalia or South Sudan or Turkey break your heart, if reading the stories on The 99 Percent blog make you feel a little sick, then seeing people drop $10 million on a wedding that ends faster than Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign is pretty disgusting.

I’ve been thinking about this more and more lately, and it’s a tricky subject. Because those of us in the middle class and above, we buy things we don’t need. Do I need a flat-screen TV? No. Or a Mac Mini? No. For that matter, do I need a house with three bedrooms? Not really. I mean, we could make it work with two, if we had to. In fact, we could make do with a lot less than we do. I suspect that if you have the luxury to read this, it’s true for you, too.

But none of us is about to get rid of our computers, iPhones or television sets. In other words, we aren’t going to sell all of our possessions and give them to the poor. Which makes us a lot more like the rich man in Matthew 19 than we’re probably comfortable admitting.

But our little luxuries, unnecessary though they may be, pale in comparison to the massive amounts of money we spend as a culture on the truly frivolous. We spent an estimated $2.2 billion on Halloween candy last month, on our way to an astonishing $6.8 billion in overall Halloween spending, including an incredible $310 million on pet costumes. Pet costumes!

I’d like to think that those who count themselves as followers of Christ have better priorities than that. But I look at my own life, and I’m not so certain.


One thought on “‘Keep Making Money’”

  1. Very good points, Paul. I was grumbling this morning about how the Kardashian story is still the leading headline, but I like that you’ve taken it this direction. Humbling indeed.

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