Kim Kardashian in Armenia: is she finally doing something worthwhile?
For Armenia, which is still waiting for Turkey to recognise the genocide of Armenian people in 1915, Kim Kardashian’s visit was a godsend.
Kim Kardashian bought my attention to the Armenian genocide.. Which I never heard of.
— Blair Waldorf (@west_indie) 12 Avril 2015
“Kim Kardashian brought my attention to the Armenian genocide. I’d never heard about it.” “The attention the family has brought to Armenia is so influential (sic). Thank you for educating me #Armenia #ArmenianGenocide.” These are just a few examples of kindly words the Kardashian sisters received on Twitter during their visit to Armenia, which ended on Monday 13 April.
On 9 April, reality TV stars Kim Kardashian and sister Khloe, accompanied by Kim’s husband, Kanye West, and their daughter, North, travelled to Armenia, The family is originally from Armenia, but moved to the USA two years before the genocide of 1915 that saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people (between 200,000 and ten times as many, according to historians). No sooner had they arrived, they were meeting people, taking part in commemorations and meeting the Prime Minister… Presented as “a return to her roots” this trip was more like a state visit. Away from the press, Kim Kardashian personally documented her visit with tweets and photos which were more or less linked to the current affairs in her ancestors’ country:
Kim Kardashian focused the attention of the world (at least, the part of the world that knows she exists) on Armenia, in part thanks to the performance of her husband Kanye West. The singer played a free show on Sunday 12 April, which finished with Kanye jumping into a lake:
For a few hours, “Armenia” became the most talked-about word on the microblogging site on a global level, just behind “KUWTK”, the acronym for “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” (a reality TV show filming the Kardashian family, now into its tenth season).
“It’s incredible PR for us”
“Kim Kardashian came to pay tribute to the victims, and she has millions of followers” said Hranush Hakobyan Armenian Minister for the Diaspora when interviewed by the Guardian. “If she writes or says anything it is incredible PR for us. Most people don’t even know where Armenia is.”
Didn’t know that Kim K was Armenian. Armenia is in Asia isn’t it? — Ty (@triley45) 8 Janvier 2015
“I didn’t know that Kim K was Armenian. Armenia’s in Asia isn’t it?” – Triley, Kansas (USA).
Officially, Kim Kardashian – who has 29.8 million followers on Instagram and 31 million on Twitter – didn’t make the trip just for the 100-year memorial. But the reality TV star has emphasised her commitment to the memory of her country for years (according to The Independent, in 2012 she already stated, “I have been really passionate about getting people to acknowledge the Armenian genocide”).
The Kardashian’s trip attracted the usual criticisms, but the overall review of the visit has been positive. And certainly less disastrous than Kim’s 2012 visit to Bahrain, a notoriously repressive kingdom, to promote a milkshake brand. “Armenia has never been discussed in the mainstream media like this before” says historian Vahram Ter-Matevosyan, interviewed by the Guardian:
“I am sure Turkey is having nightmares about it. Some there said that Kim Kardashian was the latest weapon the Armenians are using. Once she leaves, she will be missed.”
All that’s left if to judge the effectiveness of the Kardashian’s version of “hashtag diplomacy”, and hope that the interest she has sparked in her native country over the last few days will survive after her visit, just for a while.