Pop Media: Hamm vs. Ham
The new season of Mad Men is upon us, and the show’s star, Jon Hamm, has been making the promotional rounds. His recent comments make me think this guy is as big a tool as his character; sexist and angry for no reason. But then again I don’t watch Mad Men, just like I bet Jon Hamm doesn’t actually watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians. So there’s that…I don’t know how or why the topic of the Kardashian’s came up but Jon had this to say to Elle UK about the Reality TV girls:
“Whether it’s Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian or whoever, stupidity is certainly celebrated…Being a f***ing idiot is a valuable commodity in this culture because you’re rewarded significantly”
Not long ago Daniel Craig shared a similar opinion. I’m the first to admit everyone’s entitled to their opinions, right.
But are these women really idiots? Neither Kardashian sister has violated probation, because none of them are on probation. They don’t show up to red carpet events sloshed or high. They don’t get thrown out of places, they don’t give incoherent interviews. They have fans and, despite their sex talk and profanity, actually behave like modern realistic role models. How about that?
They work in Entertainment, as does Hamm. You think he’d be marginally aware of the fact that Entertainment invests in whatever repeatedly produces ratings. The Kardashians are not rewarded for behaving like idiots. They’re rewarded with a loyal fan-base of women who relate to, and feel inspired by, a family of empowered women. Their fans reward the Kardashians because they demonstrate confidence in their personalities, belief in their dreams, and courage to continue despite commentary from their detractors.
You’d think a guy who plays an ad executive on TV would have enough knowledge (even a little bit) to know that women are very powerful consumers, often determining buying trends that last for years. So if he thinks the Kardashians are ‘fucking idiots’ for amassing a fortune by appealing to a large market, does that mean Jon Hamm thinks women who admire other women are idiots too? Does he think women who enjoy fashion, make up, family dynamics, and random silliness, are all fucking idiots?
Keeping Up With The Kardashians is entertaining because it shows a family who are honest with one another, loving, supportive, and forgiving. Kim and her sisters have become celebrities partly because of their appeal to fans, and because of a media machine that builds up (mostly female) stars, just to try and knock them down.
Kim is a character, a persona. She’s a ham and she plays it up. But she’s made a brand of herself, and a successful one at that. It takes a real idiot to establish that much selling power in an industry that encourages entertainment at anyone’s expense and is often likely to turn on a favorite at any given moment. Kim is rewarded because she isn’t afraid to be herself no matter what rude or hurtful comments are slung at her. Her strength and resilience is admirable. She’s rewarded because she doesn’t quit and run away. She knows what she wants out of life, and she goes after it.
By these ridiculous off-handed comments Jon Hamm, whether he knows it or not, appears to be just a little sexist (and jealous). Unless of course he was just putting on the Don Draper character for the interview, for promotion, for the sake of ratings. In which case he wouldn’t be very different from Kim Kardashian, now would he?