Is Kim Kardashian West wrong to post about her island birthday party?


Fact Box

  • Kim Kardashian West is a television star, business woman, and model famous for her reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians
  • Kardashian West recently took to social media to boast about her birthday bash amid the pandemic. She tweeted, “After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time.”
  • Users on Twitter and Instagram were quick to criticize her decision while the “coronavirus threat is keeping others indoors and unable to see their loved ones in person and has left many struggling financially.”
  • After the backlash, she said 'I realize that for most people, this is something that is so far out of reach right now, so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded of how privileged my life is.'

Andrew (Yes)

Showing off a big gathering in the middle of a pandemic is bad optics, and Kim Kardashian West should have had more sense than to post images of herself and her friends doing so. Even though West claimed that her friends were tested and quarantined before the trip--without saying exactly how--it’s the wrong message to send out when the rest of the population must avoid gatherings and socially distance themselves. This may impact many of her young and impressionable followers, who may be tempted not to follow government guidance as a result. Further, many governments are discouraging or restricting non-essential travel. Again, West is flouting the policies of governments and health officials very publicly, which has led to immense internet backlash.

Though she has said that this party has made her appreciate her privilege, it may sound disingenuous or fall on deaf ears for those with lower socioeconomic status, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic. For those economically struggling, West’s private island party is simply another example of the ultra-rich escaping the troubles that ordinary Americans must face. Even worse, it’s easy to imagine how the friends and families of those who have died due to the coronavirus would find these images offensive. While West has been out partying, some celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Steph Curry have donated millions for relief to those hit hardest. Kim Kardashian West threw a big, and no doubt, expensive party, and had the bad taste to share it with the world.

Sharon (No)

Kim Kardashian West is a wealthy woman, and part of what has garnered that wealth is putting her lifestyle on display. Keeping Up with the Kardashians will be ending next year after 14 years and 20 seasons. At the television program's ratings peak, it had approximately 4.7 million people watching. She has more than 190 million Instagram followers, 6.7 million Twitter followers, and about 29 million Facebook page likes. She's not wrong for posting about her island birthday party. Indeed, she's just doing what she's been directly and indirectly paid to do for years. 

West is free to spend her money as she sees fit. It belongs to her. She claims to have taken appropriate medical precautions for such a gathering, including pre-party quarantining and targeted health screening. Additionally, she chose a comparatively secluded venue for her party, and she and her guests traveled by private jet, minimizing contact with others. Overall, the event was reasonably proactive in reducing risk. It's doubtful that significant COVID-19 harm will come to others due to her actions.

People are free not to read her posts and not to support her business ventures. They're free to criticize her insensitive posting of conspicuous consumption during this time when so many are experiencing economic uncertainty related to the pandemic. But, none of that changes her right to engage in self-promotional posting if she chooses to. So far, that type of posting has been good for her brand and her business. And, you know what they say about celebrities, there's no such thing as bad publicity. That may be true--the Independent noted that 5.2 million people hit that like button on the controversial birthday party photos. 

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