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Posted at 09:56 PM ET, 11/01/2011

Kim Kardashian, Kris Humphries and the ‘reality’ in reality TV


Kim Kardashian at an appearance in her pre-Humphries days. | Photos: Reality TV weddings (Evan Agostini - AP)

The blogosphere has already dissected the dissolution of the Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries marriage to the point of overkill. Fine. Past the point of overkill.

But there’s still an intriguing issue nagging at those who have been following this developing and depressingly absurd divorce story. And that’s whether the marriage of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries was just a stunt in which both parties willingly participated in order to generate publicity, revenue and overall buzz for themselves.

At this point, it’s understandable that the most cynical Celebritologists among us have assumed that this was not only a ruse, but an attention-snagging ruse that may still be ongoing. (Really, is it out of the realm to think that Humphries’s expressed desire to remain married is a set-up for an eventual reconciliation that will take place in the not-too-distant future, possibly on E!, sparking another wave of “Can you believe it?” online chatter?)

But the degree to which one is willing to assume that a Kardashian sham has occurred may depend on how much creedence one places in reality television. There are some people still believe that reality TV is a mostly true representation of life as genuinely experienced by the Kim Kardashians and Snookis of the world, with some additional, overdramatic spice added to keep things interesting. Others, however, have long believed that reality is the absolute wrong word for a genre that has destroyed the division between actual life and Bravo/MTV/E! life, creating a strange celebrity sphere with no barriers between the persona and the personal.

It’s been common knowledge for years that reality television is scripted. The Post’s own William Booth wrote about that exact subject, in fact, way back in 2004.

“The reality programs are, undeniably, a new kind of hybrid entertainment,” Booth wrote. “The Writers Guild is not claiming that the shows are faked, but it insists that a lot more creative artifice — a lot more typing and ma­nipu­la­tion — is employed on them than many viewers might guess.”

More recently, in 2009, MSNBC.com explored the same subject, quoting former Hollywood Reporter critic (and current Deadline contributor) Ray Richmond as he asserted that ma­nipu­la­tion was, in fact, the total reality behind reality TV.

“It’s important to keep in mind that almost nobody involved with these shows will ever acknowledge the wizard behind the curtain,” he told the Web site. “There is almost an element of collusion on everyone’s part, or a code of silence, to never let on, lest the pot of gold disappear.”

“What they are doing on these shows,” he added, “is taking a kernel of fact and using it to construct a multi-pronged piece of fiction in the guise of truth and actuality.”

Of course, there is a difference between manipulating the “actuality” of what happens on a TV series and breaking through the fourth wall in order to turn a legitimate, legal marriage into a personal reality for Kardashian and Humphries, as well as a plot point in their ongoing reality narrative. A statement from E! suggested network reps were “surprised and saddened” by the Kardashian divorce news. At the same time, it seems almost naive to think the network didn’t have any insight into or influence on the situation, especially in light of reports that a break-up argument between Kardashian and Humphries was filmed as part of the upcoming season two finale of “Kourtney and Kim Take New York.”

Some Celebritology readers clearly view the whole enterprise, and Kardashian in particular, with skepticism. As commenter Madtown wrote in rather, um, unflattering language: “KK is American trash, willing to sell out her dignity for top dollar. Humphries likely made more money in this sham ... than he would playing basketball. Win-win for them. Lose, for anyone who thought this ‘marriage’ was anything beyond a pub and money grab.”

And then there are those who don’t buy into Kim Kardashian’s antics, yet still embrace her reality star sister, Khloe Kardashian, and her NBA player husband Lamar Odom. “Not a fan of kim but i do for some reason like khloe,” wrote one commenter on People.com, who praised the other Kardashian for cooking and cleaning her own home. The commenter also noted that Kardashian and Odom “seem real.”

But what is real at this point when it comes to reality TV? Are you inclined to believe at least some of what you watch and read regarding reality stars? Or is every bit of it a sham, whether it involves a Kardashian or not? Weigh in via the poll below, the results of which will be shared in this Sunday’s Celebritology column in Sunday Style.

By  |  09:56 PM ET, 11/01/2011

Categories:  Kim Kardashian, Relationships | Tags:  TV

 
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