Kim Kardashian’s recent appearance on NPR’s news quiz Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me! was too much for some NPR fans, who balled up their canvas tote bags and fired off angry emails to ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen.
“By the dozens, they say they are ‘disgusted’ and ‘disappointed,’ and a handful are sure the show has ‘jumped the shark,’” Jensen reported, describing listeners using a metaphor from the 1970s television series Happy Days to explain how a present-day reality TV personality is too déclassé, vapid and shallow for their discerning tastes.
An eleven-minute “Not My Job” segment featuring one of the most-talked-about media figures of the present decade was apparently enough to inspire regrets about donating to NPR and threats to cancel recurring donations.
“I recently gave a small gift to my local NPR station. Had I heard your Saturday show before I made my gift, I wouldn’t have donated. The Kardashians represent much of what is wrong with America today — and I listen to NPR to get AWAY from Kardashian-like garbage,” one listener wrote in.
Another just wanted to let Jensen know that she was “seriously thinking about dropping my membership. I thought NPR had a certain class/values and it looks like we might be heading in another direction that I’m not willing to go with you. Just thought I’d give you a heads up. Have a sparkling day!”
Kim K.’s very existence seems to inspire outrage amongst self-appointed intellectuals, who resent being asked to take her seriously and contend she’s done no real work to earn her fame—”shallow individuals who have not earned fame or fortune through an ounce of hard work have no place on a show of such caliber,” one NPR fan wrote. (This is demonstrably untrue—they may not understand or approve of the work Kim does, but she works her internet-breaking ass off to do it.)
As my colleague Dayna Evans correctly put it last month, “Kim Kardashian might not represent the be-all and end-all of femininity and womanhood, but she definitely is a part of it: a figure in popular culture through which women can see themselves, reclaim perspectives, understand better who we are, and celebrate (or argue against) versions of new femininity.”
The NPR snobs are not only unwilling to have the argument about what Kim (the icon) means, they also stick their fingers in their ears when they hear Kim (the person) talk, probably for the first time. But that’s just because she’s so shallow, you know? I bet she dismisses things without thinking deeply about them at all, not like an NPR listener.
Maybe it’s fine that they don’t want to talk about her, though, considering how well the New York Times’ man-on-man “dialogue” regarding Kim’s significance to the field of criticism (by which they meant her ass) went.
Previous Wait Wait guests include intellectual heavyweights and class/values upholders Paula Deen, Jerry Springer, Clay Aiken, and Z.Z. Top.
[Photo of Kim probably thinking about her detractors: Getty Images]