Kim, Kanye and the blessed union of celebrity and click

Marian Finucane may not have kept up with the Kardashians, but Tourism Ireland has

 Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at their wedding in Florence, Italy. Photograph: E! News/PA Wire

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West at their wedding in Florence, Italy. Photograph: E! News/PA Wire

 

Marian Finucane, marvellously, had before last Sunday never heard of Kim Kardashian. “Never, ever,” she qualified on her RTÉ Radio 1 show.

It’s a shocking blow to Irish tourism ambassador Kim, the most famous of the Kardashians, who landed with new husband Kanye West at Cork airport via private jet on Monday, apparently on honeymoon but possibly just to chip in with the election count.

Independent.ie was confused. How did this tally with the presenter’s claim that she did “endless hours of research” for her shows? It didn’t. “With all that research, she hasn’t come across Kim Kardashian? Never, ever?”

There are several possible answers to this conundrum. Finucane’s pre-show preparation may be more tailored towards more cerebral Marianesque matters (the night of the bailout, the evils of social media). Kardashian (33) is unlikely to be invited onto Marian’s show.

Another explanation is that she had come across the name but, like a true pro, had recognised it as non-essential, toxic information and blanked it from her mind – a bit like that time she asked her panel: “Remind me who Piers Morgan is again?”

Given most journalists only know anything for a period of about 24 hours anyway, after which even useful information is deleted from their brains, Finucane’s assertion that she has “never, ever” heard of poor Kim can’t even be trusted, as she is likely to have forgotten everything she used to know, including the fact that she knew it.

Here’s the cheat sheet: Kardashian is what’s known as a “celebrity without portfolio”, which is the new term for “famous-for-being-famous” and also code for “reality television star with a sex tape and/or modelling past”. When the backlash-to-the-backlash kicks in she’ll be more commonly referred to as an “entrepreneur”. West is a musician and self- proclaimed “modern-day poet” who was once labelled a “jackass” by Barack Obama. They are both American, and together they are very probably Rory McIlroy’s favourite couple right now.

Most people succumb to celebrity gossip, even if they affect not to, or don’t call it that. The back pages of tabloids are in fact celebrity pages disguised as football. Politicians’ wives are celebrities for broadsheet people who don’t do celebrities but were able to pretend that their obsession with Carla Bruni had some deeper meaning. The Kardashians are the emperor’s new clothes of celebrities, sucking in casual observers who don’t know enough about the celebrity universe to move along with confidence.

Still, there are people in this world who remain immune to the charms of the circus. Many years ago, a colleague took a call from Heat magazine, which was looking for contact details for the economist Dermot O’Leary. Yes, this seems unlikely. But Heat was preparing a feature on people who must endure life with the same names as celebrities. Sadly for the poor Heat journalist, my bemused colleague had never heard of the man described to him as “the real Dermot O’Leary” (the TV presenter), nor was he familiar with the concept of Heat.

Ireland is said to be attractive to holidaying celebrities because Irish people, desperately not wanting it to appear that they care, tend to leave them alone and carry on drinking their pints in an “I was here first” manner. This is not something that can be said for the Irish media, which goes into an overdrive mode that is only partially disguised by nervy insistence that the whole thing is a joke.

But Kardashian and West, aka Kimye, make for clicktastic copy, however it’s spun, so it would make a lovely change if the media stopped claiming to be above something that they are in fact gleefully perpetuating, and either just played it with a straight bat or recognised that all honeymoons are dull and returned to their weird Wozniacki-watching instead.

The built-in sneer factor is why much of the coverage irritates, but Tourism Ireland’s successful appropriation of the visit for marketing purposes, picked up everywhere from MailOnline to the Huffington Post, has my total respect.

Tourism Ireland makes no apologies, and it has something to say. Ireland is beautiful. This super-rich celebrity couple clearly thinks so. Come and see for yourselves. The quick-off-the-mark “fun, newsflash video” released by the tourism promotion body this week exploits the fact that no one knows for sure where the couple is, so why not speculate about their precise location with some sun-drenched overhead shots of castles and coastlines? It matters little that the newlyweds are not on a road trip along the Wild Atlantic Way. Or are they?

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