New New Economy

March 1, 2011 at 7:59 pm (By Miles Lascaux)

The world turned upside-down

What [Kim] Kardashian does, very cleverly, is sell her ravenous audience to the highest bidder. She charges up to six figures to attend a party, and reportedly can get a million for a party overseas (hey, all that travel!).

How can someone charge for going to a party? Because, like that guy in the Verizon commercial, she brings all those curious people with her, in real and virtual life. Photographers, reporters, blog followers. The party gets publicized because she is attending, which is why the party pays for her to show.

Same goes for Twitter. Kardashian reportedly charges $25,000 to endorse a product with a tweet. Simply by typing “I just used ____ hairspray!” her words go to 6.5 million people, presumably many who have so little imagination about their own lives, they just want to emulate hers. For the hairspray company, that means potential customers.

This, by the way, is no different than some of the biggest companies in the New New Economy. Look at Google. Look at Facebook. They don’t actually make anything. You can’t physically touch their product — can’t drive it or hammer with it. But what they deliver is audience. Hundreds of millions of people gathered in one place. And they earn billions by selling that audience to advertisers.

My worry is that instead of teaching our kids that skill, dedication and hard work are the path to success, we are teaching them that he-who-makes-the-biggest-jackass-video and she-who-pulls-her-skirt-up-highest can earn the most money.

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13 Comments

  1. Icepick said,

    My worry is that instead of teaching our kids that skill, dedication and hard work are the path to success, we are teaching them that he-who-makes-the-biggest-jackass-video and she-who-pulls-her-skirt-up-highest can earn the most money.

    Uh, doesn’t it make sense to teach our children how the world works? ‘Cause right now, that’s how America works.

  2. brunobaby said,

    Forget about what we’re teaching our kids…I’M tired of knocking myself out! I’m gonna go put on a skirt and make a jackass video.

  3. mileslascaux said,

    My son, who is in college and has grown up in an Internet world, understand this intuitively. The best way to make a killing is to give something away online and keep giving it away until it goes viral, then to turn around and capitalize it quickly before people forget about it.

    He’s smart enough, though, to see that you can’t apply that model to existing products, which already have long-standing, but shrinking, customer bases. Like newspapers. Which means he’s smarter than the people who actually run newspapers.

    I’ve been trying to track down the point at which two graphed lines crossed: The number of Americans in labor unions (going down) and the number of Americans who, directly or indirectly, own Wall Street stocks (going up). Preliminary research says it was the mid-1980s.

  4. amba12 said,

    Kardashian reportedly charges $25,000 to endorse a product with a tweet.

    I took a dislike to all the Kardashians the first time I saw all their kute K’s lined up in the supermarket tabloids. Just the Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie of the 2000s — disposable celebrities, like tissue paper. They’ll need to have good investment advisers not to end up broke and wasted like old boxers in about 20 years.

    It’s enough to make you wish the grid would go down just to see how that generation would fare without their cell phones.

  5. amba12 said,

    On the other hand, you can look at it as a new demeritocracy. Paris Hilton was a Hilton. As far as I know (and I don’t want to know), the Kardashians kame out of nowhere — they had good stage parents or something.

  6. Ron said,

    disposable celebrities, like tissue

    The reality is, is that we’re the ones who are disposable….and they’re disposing us! Our economic failing is not we are intelligent and hard working….it’s that we don’t have a butt big enough to park a small plane on. Sobering isn’t it?

  7. Randy said,

    I don’t know. In the final analysis, is it really all that different than the star treatment afforded TV, screen and stage personalities and athletes in previous decades? $25,000 to mention this or that now where before they were paid big bucks to wear, smoke, or drive this or that? Some of the biggest billionaires in technology quit college but I haven’t seen any evidence massive rush for the exits as a result.

  8. amba12 said,

    Maybe YOU don’t have a butt big enough to . . .

    Randy pointed out to me that the Kardashians’ dad was OJ’s lawyer. So they ARE hereditary schlock-celebrity royalty. All the more reason to ignore them as the tinsel they are.

  9. Randy said,

    Their step-father is Bruce Jenner. Their mother divorced their father pre-OJ trial, IIRC. (It’s amazing what crap infiltrates one’s mind while perusing wikipedia entries. Out, damn’d spot! out, I say! Oh well, too late now.)

  10. wj said,

    It’s enough to make you wish the grid would go down just to see how that generation would fare without their cell phones.

    Puts me in mind of a science fiction story from decades ago (mid-60s, perhaps?). Back when all the kids seem to be addicted to having their portable radios on all the time. Then someone (evil aliens?) developed a way to cancel out the sound. All the sound.

    Oh, the silence!

    And people started going insane, as a result of not having the constant noise. They just weren’t prepared to cope with listening to their own thoughts.

    I could see the same phenomena with cell phones — how to cope with not being able to constantly talk or text…. Might have to, you know, think or read a book or something.

  11. Tim said,

    “There IS a difference between Kim Kardashian and Google,” says my wife.

    Discussing it, though, we found less than you might imagine.

  12. mileslascaux said,

    As an Adsense client, I can tell you the difference between the Kardashians and Google: Google will screw me.

  13. Danny said,

    I’ve never watched the Kardashians’ various shows (I’m not bragging–I HAVE watched more than one episode of “Jersey Shore,” God help me!) but I am continually flabbergasted that anyone on the planet cares about them in any way. I just don’t get it (said the man who just admitted he’s seen “Jersey Shore”). At least in the old days that type of trashy celebrity hysteria was reserved for people who were actually doing something in the public eye (actors, singers, supermodels, international despots, etc.). Have the Kardashian sisters ever contributed anything other than being horrific role models for girls?

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