They say the devil works hard, but that Kris Jenner, the Kardashian-Jenner ‘momager’ works harder. Everyone has their own opinions about the Kardashian-Jenner clan, who are notorious for a number of reasons. You can think what you want, but their ability to monetise literally anything, big or small, is beyond impressive.
For those who don’t know, just last month, Kylie Jenner, entrepreneur, founder of Kylie Cosmetics, and one of the world’s youngest billionaires released a video tour of the Kylie Cosmetics office, at the end of which, she sang three words to her baby—“rise and shine.” The internet is a bizarre place where things like that can become huge in no time. In less than a few days ‘Rise and Shine’ became a viral meme. It has since been turned into a remix and the #riseandshine hashtag has been shared on TikTok over a billion times. Now, as one of the world’s most influential and famous people, and the world’s youngest billionaire, what do you do if something you’ve said turned into a viral meme? You try to trademark the phrase and capitalise on it, of course.
Jenner managed to turn the internet meme we have created into money—just after one week since posting the video, she has already applied to trademark (the entire family has filed 716 trademarks so far) the phrase in order to put it on “belts, bottoms as clothing, coats, dresses, footwear, gloves, headbands, headwear, jackets, loungewear, scarves, sleepwear, socks, swimwear, tops as clothing and undergarments,” and completely sold out of the $65 ‘Rise and Shine’ hoodies listed on her website. And while a big part of the internet envies or even hates Kylie for it, it is important to ask ourselves one question: aren’t we the ones who let this happen in the first place?
The Kardashian-Jenners are certainly one of the most famous families in the world, but they’re also one of the most hated ones, be that for the many ways in which they’ve acquired their wealth or their impact and influence on our society. Perhaps best known for their reality TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians, they are living and breathing pop culture—they are on television, they are talked about in the media on a daily basis (ironically, I am also contributing to this right now), and they are in major fashion campaigns. Somehow, over the last decade, the family has exerted so much influence, that they are able to monetise almost all aspects of their lives.
Every single drama of the Kardashian-Jenner world, from family feuds and affairs, business ventures, PR disasters (the internet will never let go of that Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial) to near-death experiences, and robberies feed the celebrity news cycle. Driving people’s interest in the reality TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians brings viewers, which then bring an ever-increasing number of sponsorships and brand deals. The common saying ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ seems to really apply to their family—they can do anything and just air it on their show. For example, last February, following a family drama where Jenner’s best friend allegedly had an affair with Jenner’s half-sister’s partner, Kylie decided to drop the price of a lip kit dedicated to her best friend by 50 per cent, selling out instantly.
The thing is, the influencer is only as good as those who get influenced by them. The Kardashian-Jenners would not be able to thrive on the hype created around them, if we didn’t create it in the first place. To say that every single person with even a slight engagement in pop culture is responsible for this would be a stretch, but every single time anybody speaks of them, be that praise, intrigue or criticism, we instantly make them even more relevant. Whether you hate or you love the Kardashian-Jenners—if you are involving yourself in the conversation in any way, shape or form, you could easily be making them even richer. And their fan base is especially responsible for that.
Yes, what the Kardashian-Jenners are doing here can be seen as borderline exploitative, but it’s also savvy, and in many ways entrepreneurial and creative. How many of us can say that we wouldn’t do the same for money, were we given the option? At the end of the day, Kylie isn’t forcing you to buy a $65 ‘Rise and Shine’ hoodie or a lip-kit—she is simply using her influence to sell, and we have given her and the rest of her family this influence. Of course, there are way better things to use your influence on than selfishly monetizing on it, and in Kylie’s case, her influence and power is immense. In 2018, after she tweeted “sooo does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me… ugh this is so sad,” Snapchat’s stock lost $1.3 billion. Jenner only tweeted what everyone was already thinking.
In the same way that Jenner could be using her influence for the greater good, so could we. If you have a problem with either member of the Kardashian-Jenner clan making money off of something you deem as ridiculous, think twice before starting a conversation about it and feeding into the cycle. Otherwise, you’ve played yourself.