Not every family can make news just by sending out a Christmas card, but, then, not every family is the Kardashians.
The E! network’s reality show glam-fam has stirred up quite a buzz with the image on their 2013 holiday card. It’s the work of David LaChapelle, a top photographer known for his surrealistic, glamorous style. With the Kardashian shot, that style is revved to full throttle.
LaChapelle’s panoramic image looks as if it captured the aftermath of an explosion in a casino. In one corner of the colorful chaos, the nominal patriarch of the Kardashian clan, Bruce Jenner, is trapped inside a clear plastic cylinder. Scattered about the foreground are the Kardashian gals — mama Kris and her five daughters — with a couple of grandkids thrown in as props. Each woman is posed like a fashion model, staring with the blank eyes of a Macy’s mannequin.
Professional Kardashian watchers seem to think the image is way over the top; too weird to be called a Christmas card. The public comments on the E! website are even more harsh. Some interpret the photo as an all-out attack on Christmas, with more than one person calling the picture “Satanic.”
Another said of the Kardashians, “I would rather live in a dirt hut and have morals and integrity than to live like they do.” One other person judged the card as “garish, tacky and nauseatingly materialistic” — which is, of course, how plenty of people think of Kris and her family.
Still, maybe it’s too easy to pick on the Kardashians. Christmas cards, after all, have evolved. In the old days, images on the seasonal cards stayed in a narrow range from manger scenes to Santa and his sleigh.
These days, a typical card is a family photo that may make some passing reference to the holiday but is mostly a contrived visual meant to portray mom, dad and the kids in a happy, healthy glow — however far from reality that may be.
When the kids were smaller, that’s pretty much the kind of card the Kardashians sent out. They didn’t really stray far from the norm until they got their TV show. Then, the glamour shots began to creep in, but even last year’s card was not far outside the norm (though it looked less like Christmas and more like a New Year’s celebration with the whole family dressed in white, champagne at the ready and confetti scattered in the air).
Yes, this year the Kardashian’s card does not exactly scream family togetherness, but it is wrong to say it lacks any touch of the season. Over on the left side, there’s a golden, 6-foot-high dollar sign. Given the country’s commercial focus on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, it’s hard to argue that a giant dollar sign is not an apt symbol for the contemporary American Christmas.