Khloe Kardashian became unhappy soon after arriving in Australia yesterday along with her more famous sister, Kim. As she explained on Twitter in the wake of a paparazzi scrum at Sydney Airport: ''kim does not have to explain $hit to anyone. Haters can kick rocks with open toe shoes …''
Many cynics have been asking questions about the implosion of Kim's televised marriage after just 72 days, the marriage for which her handlers negotiated an $US18 million ($17.2 million) TV rights fee.
''I had hoped this marriage was forever but sometimes things don't work out as planned,'' she said in a statement in Los Angeles on Monday, announcing she was filing for divorce from a professional basketball player, Kris Humphries. She is 31, he is 26.
Why did Kim Kardashian marry? Most commonly, it takes about seven years for a shaky marriage to unravel to breaking point. Kardashian managed to speed the process to nearer seven weeks.
Why do most people marry? Because they assume good sex will translate into lasting companionship? Because they conflate good looks with good character? Because they want children and think being parents will keep a couple close? So many marriages are built on such shaky assumptions that 40 per cent of them end in divorce and many of the rest end up in great compromise.
Only about one in three married couples achieve genuine, long-lasting compatibility. Many pronouncements of undying devotion, said with certainty to a public audience on marriage day, end up in estrangement and legal papers. The best wedding speech I ever heard moved me to tears but the marriage was over within a few years. The brilliant speech was made by a friend who has had a brilliant career. But his quick mind was offset by a quick temper.
A spectacularly rapid marriage implosion was thus the context for the fever surrounding the arrival of the Kardashian sisters yesterday. Emerging from customs at Sydney Airport, they were immediately set upon by the media as they arrived for celebrity appearances and to promote a Kardashian range of handbags. It is the latest in a growing list of Kardashian-branded products. The brand has power. When magazines featured the Kardashian wedding on the cover, their sales went up.
The visit is Kim's first public engagement since the divorce announcement. The speed of the marriage's demise was shocking in itself but the wedding had been filmed as a two-part reality TV special, ramping up the deflating aftermath. The wedding deal was Kim's biggest jackpot since the creation of the reality series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, which has been popular enough to endure for six seasons and generate several spin-offs featuring the three Kardashian sisters, Kim, Kourtney, 32, and Khloe, 27.
The first series was commissioned in 2007 within months of the circulation of a sex tape featuring Kim, a model, having sex with her then boyfriend, Ray J, a rap musician. Her celebrity skyrocketed amid the ensuing publicity.
Her career trajectory thus exactly mirrors that of Paris Hilton - an attractive young woman of modest discernible talent whose career takes off in the wake of a home-made porn tape, which is leveraged into celebrity, then further leveraged through reality TV, celebrity appearances and product endorsements.
After TV rights to the wedding were sold, much cynicism greeted the entire process. Kardashian started seeing Humphries in October last year, they were engaged in May, and married in August. Rumours of marital stress surfaced in September. The divorce announcement was made in October. The entire life cycle of the romance was less than a year.
The core problem appears to have been Humphries's assumption that his wife would settle down and have children, concentrating on being a mother over being a celebrity and a brand. He was naive.
A torrent of speculation has swirled that the wedding was a business deal made with little concern for love. This seems excessively cynical. Kim probably did fall in love.
Rather, this debacle looks like a classic clash between a narcissist and a non-narcissist, compounded by a clash between the self-grandiosity of reality TV and the more humbling complexities of real life. Never bet against a narcissist placing their self-interest first, with brutal efficiency. Narcissism always wins. Always.