Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and the business of fauxmance


Kim + Kanye — why ask why? (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Luke MacGregor/Reuters)

Are Kanye West and Kim Kardashian really dating — or does it even matter? From Taylor Swift writing VIP “boyfriends” into her songs, to “Dancing With the Stars” fomenting rumors of partner intrigue, we’re enjoying the greatest era of Hollywood fauxmance since Rock Hudson married his agent’s secretary.

A better question: “Why?” We asked Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, a University of Southern California sociology professor and author of “Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity,” what would motivate a superstar rapper and a reality star a mere 168 days removed from her 72-day marriage to hook up in such an elaborately public way. (West proclaimed his love in a new song; they led paparazzi around NYC on a 24-hour date.)

For a star with no obvious talent, Currid-Halkett said, “it becomes increasingly important to create the narrative arc around romance.” Stars such as Angelina Jolie at or Michelle Williams at least have movies to sell — “we don’t need to care about them as people because we care about their talent” — but Kardashian’s “entire business relies on the public being interested in her.”

But — what about West? He’s got talent; he sells music. Yes, Currid-Halkett said, but his persona is “all about antics. His music is always tongue-in-cheek.”

She mulled it a bit more. “He may be someone who needs attention,” she theorized. “You know, I’m not in his head.”

Will it work? The strategy behind the fauxmance, we mean. Currid-Halkett has her doubts. “With Kim Kardashian, we’ve suspected for a while that there’s a lot of creation in her personal narrative. This deluge of information about her relationship with Kanye West doesn’t seem as plausible.” Can they even sell magazines with this story? “Once you realize they’re just making this up,” she said, “why not read a work of fiction?”

This weekend, the happy couple made it into an “SNL” skit and onto the cover of Us; by some accounts, he’ll appear in future episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.



Read earlier: Kardashian rehash: Making sense of reality, 11/5/11

A reality show life, just not on TV, 9/18/11

Reality TV is affecting reality — what’s real news, what’s fake?, 8/1/10

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