Reality star Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint during her stay in Paris in October 2016. Due to Kardashian West’s celebrity status, the public reacted strongly to the news of her robbery.
Social media erupted with the news and many individuals took a stance of cynicism. Rumors circulated that the incident had been a publicity stunt, while others claimed that Kardashian West had brought the robbery upon herself by choosing to lead a lavish lifestyle and constantly creating a social media presence.
Some reactions to the robbery on Twitter included: “I’m surprised Kim Kardashian didn’t snapchat the whole robbery thing,” and “This looks like another Kardashian ploy, PR stunt.”
Similar to the backlash Kardashian West received after being robbed, her husband, musician Kanye West, was criticized for leaving mid-performance at The Meadows musical festival in New York City after receiving word of his wife’s situation.
Twitter responded in an insensitive way, saying, “Still mad Kim got robbed during Kanye’s performance,” and “Kanye has to cut his #themeadowsnyc set short due to a family emergency and someone screams ‘THIS IS SO KANYE.’”
This popular reaction to Kardashian West’s robbery is completely insensitive and highlights the way society dehumanizes celebrities. The way celebrities’ lives are used as a source of entertainment causes individuals to not take them seriously and to question if their existence is authentic—as is especially true of the Kardashian family.
Individuals did not consider the facts of the events that transpired in Paris, just simply that they happened to a celebrity.
Kardashian West begged for her life, saying, “Don’t kill me, I have babies, don’t kill me, please, I have babies! I’m a mom! Take whatever you want!” She also said that one of her attackers “tied me up and put plastic cables and Scotch tape on my hands, and then taped my mouth and my legs."
If these quotes and headlines were written about a non-celebrity civilian, the public would have reacted differently; this violent robbery in Paris would have been called a tragedy instead of a publicity stunt or a long-time-coming wake-up call.
Regardless of who this happened to, the fact that an innocent mother of two was begging for her life at gunpoint and was unsure if she would see her husband or kids again is heartbreaking.
The inappropriate and insensitive public reaction to Kardashian West’s robbery is due solely to her role as a public-figure. It should be unacceptable to joke about or make light of any incident of violence. It is disappointing that many feel celebrities aren’t deserving of our empathy.
After the incident in Paris, Kardashian West stayed off social media and only recently spoke publicly about the issue. Recently, on her show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” she got emotional with her sisters about the robbery.
She later tweeted, “I took a tragic horrific experience and did not let it diminish me, rather grew and evolved and allowed the experience to teach me.”
It is imperative to gain perspective when it comes to reacting to the life of celebrities. While their lives and what happens in them seems foreign to us, they are still real people with families and loved ones.
The jokes and cynicism that followed Kardashian West’s robbery were unacceptable and causes concern. The ability to show empathy and love for those who are struggling is an inherently human trait, and it is distressing that this wasn’t shown to Kardashian West.