Despite a movement to boycott everything Kim Kardashian, the soon-to-be divorcee seems to be as hot as ever. A news story about her appearance on Jay Leno last night (she insisted her marriage to Kris Humphries was based on love, not money) was among People magazine's most-read stories today. And both fans and critics are following the war of words between the curvy brunette and Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" fame, who likened the pop princess's popularity to a "car crash mentality."
Meanwhile, recent advertising photos of the why-is-she-famous phenom and her sexy sisters wearing lingerie and posing topless with jeans for their exclusive-to-Sears Kardashian Kollection clothing line are as prevalent online as popcorn at the movies.
If Hamm's theory is correct, Kardashian remains a pop culture perennial because fans enjoy watching her flatten like one of those classic cartoon characters who repeatedly fall off a seemingly fatal cliff and pop right back up as if nothing happened.
The diva's 72-day marriage to a basketball star she had dated less than a year seemed like it could be the final iceberg to her Titanic-like fame, yet the made-for-TV bride treated her marital co-star like an annoying hang nail she could trim off, jetting off to Australia the same day she and her hubbie split.
Recently one of Kardashian's many BFFs, Jonathan Cheban, defended his ample-bootied amiga against Hamm by saying, "Put Jon Hamm in a mall, and more people will go up to the people working at the Burger King than they will to him. Bring Kim to a mall and there will be a riot. They're in two different businesses. Kim's pop culture and what people like."
While "The Spin Crowd" star's statement could be technically true, it may say more about who populates malls than the popularity of the Hollywood handsome actor whose acting chops in "Friends with Kids," "Bridesmaids" and his retro TV drama about advertising exec in the 60s -- which returns to AMC Sunday night -- are highly respected by both movie and TV critics. One could just as easily argue that fast food burgers are superior to fillet mignon since billions more are sold each year.
Perhaps it is ultimately the media darling's disaster-prone persona that keeps her in the headlines. With so many depressing political and financial news stories, many of which are hard for the average Harriet to get a handle on, the perils of the modern-day Pauline is a safe substitute for following more substantial and sobering story lines.
It could be precisely the celebutante's cotton candy essence that makes her seemingly puzzling popularity so clear. Ultimately, the protégé of the famous-for-no-reason hotel heiress Paris Hilton is a relatively harmless distraction in a world burdened by far heftier concerns.
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- Jon Hamm