I was initially excited to see that Kimora Lee Simmons was going to have a reality show. I know. It sounds ludicrous. But I was. What black gay man wouldn’t be? As she said last night on the premiere episode of her new show on the Style Channel, Life in the Fab Lane. Simmons noted (something to the effect of) I need my make-up to be more drag queen-ish. Kimora loves the kids, and knows we’re watching, but I had to wonder last night, what are we watching for?
The show seems to be set up to show how the successful fashion model-turned fashion mogul balances the fab lane and her family—the mother of two daughters. The first episode was largely the now-cliché “get to know the characters” kind of episode that reality shows employ. The plot for this episode revolved around a new Kimora Barbie doll being produced, and a new ad campaign that Kimora was launching for Baby Phat, where she would star as the model for the campaign as well.
When Kimora goes to meet with the executives from Barbie about her doll, I do think it was kinda fierce that she read those white women about the reason they wouldn’t give the doll, which bears Simmons’ (Korean-Japanese and African-American) likeness, the name “Barbie” which she clearly knows they only give to the white dolls. The fact that she was comfortable asserting her opinion, and letting them know what she was up to, was fabulous. (I know Barbie is a totally sexist creation and don’t think they’re good for girls’ self-image, etc., but I am making a different point here.)
But while her ability to treat these Barbie company execs badly was totally fine, what I didn’t like (in the same breath) is how she also treated other people in general, which mostly had to do with her staff, of mostly Black and Latino women and gay men. At least she’s hired them (I guess). But when she demanded that her Black (presumably gay) assistant order her another salad with all the fixins in one dish and the lettuce in another (while she was already eating a salad) I began to have questions. Then when she and her Latino (presumably gay) creative director get into a fight about the budget and he, he starts blubbering something to the effect of the only reason I have stayed here is because of you.
OK. Does that relationship sound a little weird?
I don’t know. All this started making me feel a little ill about the “Celebrity” reality shows. Do we watch it just to see A-listers like Kimora be shitty to other people? Do we watch the D-listers like Danny Bonaduce to make fun of how far they’ve fallen so we feel better about ourselves? What are these weird paternalistic relationships that (presumably) straight women and gay men have with each other, from Kimora saying things to her staff like “Mama’s not happy” to Kathy Griffin referring to gay men as “her” gays? It’s all a little to “Truth or Dare” for my taste. What weird misogynist fantasies to gay men play out by their need to be accepted by certain types of hi-femme personalities—and are quick to dis women we view as un-attractive or with bad fashion faster than other women will?
I feel dirty all of a sudden. So I’ll stop blogging, and let you ponder this while I take a shower.
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