Today is international Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, but is one Los Angeles family of it-girls driving the remembrance single-handedly this year?
Ever heard of a period during the First World War in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were annihilated by the Ottoman Turkish authorities, in events today’s Turkish government continues to deny constituted genocide?
And ever heard it referred to as a “big-time incident”?
Because this is the bizarre euphemism used by Brother Kardashian (whose name begins with ‘R’, the maverick) that will have come to your attention if you were one of 2.1 million viewers who watched the March 11 episode of that diamante-studded homage to banality ‘Kloé & Lamar’, titled ‘No Turkey For Khloe’. In which case, I doubt you’d admit it.
You may even be one of many who consequently took a fleeting, 21st Century interest and contributed to making ‘Armenian Genocide’ the 10th most-searched term on Google the day the episode was aired on the American E! Network (which broadcasts such televisual triumphs as The Simple Life, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and, um, Bridalplasty).
Another quasi-reality offering kourtesy of the Kardashians, the series generally sees Gratuitous Acute Accent Kardashian, Khloé – you know, the one without the sex-tape? Labelled first and foremost as an “American businesswoman” on Wikipedia, if that helps? – tumbling into all kinds of scandalous scrapes with her NBA superstar husband Lamar Odom, such as half-heartedly arguing. And driving around sometimes.
But this episode was different. Yes, there was still the obligatory drivel about believing in your dreams, and trusting those you love, etc, but the main focus was on the events and political ramifications of the Armenian Genocide debate.
Khloé was distressed by Lamar’s proposed posting to play basketball in Turkey. Anxious that her Armenian fan base would find it disrespectful of her to go off to Turkey and cheer on her man, who had become frustrated by the NBA’s lockout and wished to get back to doing what he loves – slam-dunkin’ and shootin’ some hoops, or whatever it was they didn’t say in the ’90s, her rallying cry was: “I don’t wanna piss off my culture.”
Floating faded photographs panned across the screen picturing harrowing scenes accompanied by a commentary explaining what the Armenian Genocide was, careful to acknowledge it as “genocide” rather than sticking to customary tentative American rhetoric on the issue: “atrocities”. It then gave the Turkish viewpoint, that it was a war on both sides, and summed up the current political conflict for its viewers by informing us that “it’s never been recognised.”
Perhaps even without having witnessed this heavily-edited half hour of trauma in Khloé’s life, you may have an inkling of this contentious subject, the remembrance day of which is today, 24 April.
It is, after all, the history of humanitarian failings’ worst-kept secret, despite every subsequent Turkish regime’s best efforts, and has been recognised officially in France, Russia, Canada, Italy, and Greece among many others, as well as by a smattering of US presidents in the past. Nicolas Sarkozy recently pushed for a bill officially prohibiting its denial in France, as is the case there with the Jewish Holocaust.
But its events are relatively unknown – particularly in Britain where it continues to be unrecognised officially as “genocide” and the government prefers to prevaricate over pastry-wrapped politicking – compared to the Kardashian family’s twenty-four hour frolicking. You surely must have been hiding under a boulder somewhere extra-terrestrial, or perhaps watching too much ‘Bridalplasty’, not to have heard of this Californian glam-clan of cacophonous society gurlz and their tabloid teasing antics.
So they are bringing an otherwise fairly obscure topic to an international audience of millions tuning into their antics. Lamar even argues that his wife should be “an ambassador for the Armenian community, to make peace.” But is this a good thing?
Should it be that the mouthpiece for such a sensitive issue, still boiling in the hearts of most Armenians across the Ddiaspora, are these vaguely pointless women who have globally-broadcasted arguments about borrowing handbags and mocking each other’s “fat asses” in public?
Flagship Kardashian, Kim, who lashed out at Turkish Cosmo this time last year for putting her on the cover in the month of genocide remembrance, advises her sister to “be careful, because you’re Armenian.” Indeed, last year she wrote a blog post on the matter, emphasising her strong connection to her background:
“My family and I are incredibly proud of our heritage. My dad taught me a lot about Armenian culture, and I have a strong connection with my roots. Every year, I honor the memory of the martyrs who were killed during the 1915 Armenian Genocide.”
She then tweeted “it’s time to recognise the Armenian Genocide” to 7.2 million fans. She now has more than double those followers. It’s doubtful the Armenian government, or many activist groups, can boast such a dedicated fan base. At least not with as much petrifying lipgloss to hand, anyway.
So despite how highbrow we believe ourselves to be, or how snobby we really are, no publicity is bad publicity. The fact that the Kardashians have found the time in their busy brash-splash-cash scheduling to expose the often stifled subject to a far wider audience than ever before is commendable. Sorry, kommendable.
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