The Kardashians Have Conquered Every Medium But Short-Form Video
No wonder they hate Instagram's pivot. They suck at it.
Have you heard the news? Instagram sucks. It’s sucked for a while, certainly, and it’s sucked, like, psychologically from the very beginning, but as the app trends towards unusable, two of its most infamous users have spoken out.
Half-sisters Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner have both shared the same graphic that reads:
It’s possible that the Kardashian hive legitimately hates the increasingly annoying changes to Instagram’s functionality — the non-chronological feed and shift into Reels that, despite Adam Mosseri’s insistence, make the app much worse to use — in the same way that you or I hate the increasingly annoying changes Instagram’s functionality. But the difference between you and I and Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner is that the latter use the app to sell something, and their decreased engagement is bad for business (whereas you and I just experience mild ego death).
But in addition to possible concerns over their lack of thumb traffic, there’s another undeniable truth in the Kardashian insistence to make Instagram great again: These guys are really bad at short-form video.
Consider the nature of a chaotic TikTok feed — the “for you page” or “FYP,” if you’re 14. Dance videos, recipe videos, comedy videos, over-complicated lip-syncing, cribbed from Reddit fun facts, some genuine freak of nature doing some genuine freak of nature shit, one of those really nice videos where something breaks a giant thing of ice. And then consider, if you will, the skill set of the Kardashian family. They cannot dance, they cannot cook, they are not — despite what Kim’s SNL subplot on their new Hulu show tries to suggest — funny, they are not replete with fun facts nor are they ever doing something I would say is “so satisfying.”
For instance, take a look at this extremely unsatisfying video of Kylie Jenner making a cake. Has anything had a less convincing crumb structure? This thing looks like it was iced with pink sauce.
Kim’s TikTok attempts have mostly been shills for her business, either low-performing runway footage for new SKIMs collections or her overpriced skincare line. And one of the more baffling pivot-to-videos of the Kardashian/Jenner clan is little sister Khloe, who has made a handful of ineffective TikToks either poorly lip-syncing to an audio in bad lighting or way too good lighting. You can tell their hearts aren’t in it, from the dull filters to the lackluster delivery. This is just a video of a fountain? Perhaps this is a push by the new show to expand the family’s social audience to a younger crowd. Consider a TikTok from Gawker’s woman of the year JoJo Siwa “Krissing” her viewership? Either way, it’s not landing.
Short-form video is a tricky medium. Remember Quibi? Perhaps this comes as a point of frustration for the Kardashian-Jenner clan, the audio from whose television shows have long been a lip-syncing staple on video platforms. But the audio was not really theirs to own, or to propagate, and once it felt like they were in on the joke of what they were, their audience turned away, found new things to laugh at.
But now I’m getting too philosophical, and they’re not wrong: Instagram does kind of suck. How tragic for them that they suck at it now too.