We had a Kardashian ban on this site for a couple years. It’s eroded over the past year, as new writers have come and gone and I found myself too busy to send email reprimands when they ran Kardashian pieces. I never really talked about why, but now seems as appropriate a time as any.
In October 2007, I ran this piece. It contained a photo of Kendall and Kylie Jenner posing on the red carpet for the viewing party for Keeping Up with the Kardashians. There was some veiled reference to how I looked forward to the days they behaved like their older sisters, but there was nothing especially inflammatory about the piece. It was a photo of two girls on a red carpet. At a press event. I said they were “cute.”
Someone left a comment on the piece containing Kylie and Kendall’s actual phone number. I didn’t know this — I don’t read all the comments on this site, as there are many, many comments left daily, on pieces spanning the 4+ years of its existence. Kylie and Kendall began receiving phone calls in the middle of the night, and the Kardashian family traced it back to the comment left on this blog. I had no idea any of this was going on.
One morning, I received a phone call from a blocked number. Stupidly, I answered. It was the Kardashian’s rep — or perhaps a lawyer, I can’t remember at this point — calling to tell me about the comment with the phone number. Also, he didn’t like the piece I’d written and he said something about how I was exploiting young girls. (Young girls who were posing on a red carpet.) I told him I didn’t want to cause the girls any trouble, and I removed the comment containing the phone number.
He called again, an hour later. There were other comments on the post (the post contained hundreds of comments at that point — they’ve all been deleted since) where people were discussing their overtly sexual fantasies about these young girls. Their mother, he explained, was very upset. Again, I was unaware these comments were present, and I removed all comments of a sexual nature from that post.
I will note that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act makes clear that the owner of a website is not legally responsible for comments left on it. I was under no obligation to remove these comments, and I knew that, but it was clearly the right thing to do under the circumstances.
Then he called again, a couple of hours later. There were other comments on the post, comments that spoke ill of the adult Kardashians, and Kris Jenner was upset about those, too. He wanted those removed. I told him that, while I didn’t mind removing the sexual comments about the little girls, I felt that the comments about the older Kardashians could stay. At this point he became very upset. He called again and again. He was calling every fifteen minutes. I didn’t answer. He left long-winded, angry messages. He went through every post on my site that contained any mention of any Kardashian and left detailed instructions as to how it needed to be changed. I did not comply.
I finally answered one of his calls. His voice was full of condescension. He asked how old I was. I was 25 at the time and I told him that.
“Oh, you’re very young.”
“Sasha,” he said — but he may as well have said ‘Little Girl’ — “you don’t understand what you’re dealing with here. We will destroy you in court. We are currently in the process of taking down BuddyTV for what they said about the Kardashians. Their site will be off the Internet forever tomorrow. They’ll be bankrupt. Do you want that to happen to you?” (BuddyTV, for the record, is still very much alive, kicking and successful.)
I told him that I didn’t, but that I understood my rights, and I was under no obligation to remove the posts about the adult Kardashians. He listed all the laws I was violating. (These were lies.) He referred back to the post about Kylie and Kendall, and threatened to take me to court on some federal charge of exploiting young girls. Then, at one point, he offered to give me rights to the photos from the Kim Kardashian Playboy shoot in exchange for making the “corrections” to all my blog posts about the Kardashians.
He called hourly. He did this for days. It was insanity. These were obviously public figures — people who had willingly agreed to participate in a television show about their lives, including the lives of their underage daughters — and they still planned to control every facet of the way they were portrayed in the media? And they planned to do this by hurling baseless threats at young women running blogs? It was completely insane.
Eventually the phone calls dropped off, and — surprise! — no one ever took me to court. I decided we didn’t need to cover the Kardashians at all, and we didn’t for a long time.
Today, I received an email from a producer at BuzzMedia imploring me to cover Kim Kardashian’s recent blog post about these bikini photos taken of the now-14-year-old Kendall, who’s apparently an aspiring model.
So, ya know, HERE YA GO. Enjoy the heavy eye makeup, the near-exposed breasts, and the sexual poses of an eighth grader. But let’s be very, very careful not to exploit any young women in the process, okay?