Over on our Patheos channel, Paddy Gilger takes a (deeper) look at the Kim Kardashian photos:
I have spent more time than I care to admit – by which I mean any time at all – looking at this photograph of Kim Kardashian and feeling annoyed. It took me a few moments of that time to figure out why, but here it is: I felt annoyed because I felt controlled, manipulated. And I didn’t like it.
He asks us to pay attention to what happens to us when we look at these photos:
…what is looking at this photograph of Ms. Kardashian doing to me? Who are we told to be as we look?
We are told to be sexual. Just be possessed by your erotic desires. It’s a gaze of lust we’re asked to take on, a gaze that allows its vision to be narrowed until the only visible thing is Ms. Kardashian’s body and that body is only viewed as the object of a self-centered passion. If we look in this way we become nothing more a libido.
We are told to be callous. All your responses have already been expected and accounted for. This is the anesthetized gaze of the one who knows that the photograph is supposed to be “shocking” and “titillating” (whereas what would really be shocking is if we weren’t beyond being shocked). But when we learn to look callously it just means sinking into an ironic disdain, escaping into a comfortable numbness.
And finally, he suggests — with help from a YouTube video portrait a father made of his daughter — that there’s another way for us to look at each other:
We know, but she looks at us. And she asks, in the looking, that we look at her as he does, filling her up with loving admiration and amazement at her existence, pouring into her gratitude for the beauty that is her life.