The word ‘controversy’ gets thrown around so often these days in relation to the Kardashian-Jenner clan that its actual definition is becoming increasingly blurred. Kendall and Kylie Jenner might be the youngest members of the fame-hungry family, but with a growing list of cultures they’ve appropriated, celebrities they’ve ripped-off and morally ambiguous business failures they’ve spearheaded, they are miles ahead of their sisters as far as being publicly problematic goes.
Last week, the girls were the recipients of intense backlash online after releasing their latest collection of “vintage” t-shirts, which featured their own faces superimposed over a number of iconic album covers, including those of Tupac, The Notorious B.I.G, Black Sabbath and Metallica among others. Following a cease-and-desist letter from The Doors, who appeared on one shirt, a very clear rejection and law suit threat from Biggie’s estate and a public slap-on-the-wrists via Twitter from Sharon Osborne who told them to “stick to […] lipgloss”, the “disrespectful” shirts have since been pulled.
Of course, this is just the latest in their string of missteps this year alone – the one-two punch of Kendall’s Pepsi commercial debacle and Fyre Festival fiasco are by now infamous, as is the anger that greeted her reveal as Vogue India’s 10th anniversary cover star. Kylie has endured her own share of business misdemeanours, having been accused of copying make up designs from other artists, sending customers empty boxes, and passing off old products as new. Almost enough to make you feel sorry for them, you know, if they weren’t crying into dollar bills.
And that’s the thing. It’s no secret that the Kardashian-Jenners are not the most talented celebrities in the pop culture consciousness, but they seem to have done just fine despite this shortcoming. That said, they have often been accused of appropriation, particularly that of the cultural variety, but this t-shirt project has incited claims of exploitation. That is, that they are leeching from other, decidedly more talented individuals instead of creating something authentic.
I know what you’re thinking – this is a lot of noise and feigned outrage about a t-shirt line, and it is exactly that. On a very basic level, this is just another copyright infringement issue, but people can be very quick to jump on the offensive whenever the Kardashian name is even mentioned in relation to some kind of social injustice. While the public can at times be prematurely quick to crucify them, or at least tend to revel in their slip-ups, the fact that they seem so averse to apologies doesn’t help their case. While Kylie has issued a statement in the wake of their blunder, Kendall on the other hand, who has arguably been at the centre of far more controversial situations in the recent past than any of her siblings (let’s forget about Rob for a hot second), seems happier to continue about her yacht-lounging or rapper-dating without acknowledgement of responsibility.
While it may be true that the Jenner duo are not conventionally talented, there’s no denying they have a natural knack for stirring up public outcry. As they continue to act as unofficial representatives of celebrity catastrophe, chances are they’ll always have us Keeping Up with their latest Kardashian brand Kontroversy.