She's Already Made of Plastic
She’s Already Made of Plastic
Aiden K. Feltkamp
MALE HOST: Welcome to The Day Show, where we bring you the first exclusive interview with Saint Kim.
KIM: Thanks for having me.
MALE HOST: I must say, I’ve never seen my male crew members so excited about a guest before.
KIM: I’m used to it.
MALE HOST: So, Kim, you’ve been known as just a cardboard airhead. Now you’ve been sainted. How does it feel to prove the whole world wrong?
KIM: It’s great. I mean, I work really hard and it’s great for people to realize that. I’m not just a celebrity. I’m a person, too. I think they already knew that.
MALE HOST: You’ve been criticized for having no talent, and yet you have the most Twitter followers in the world. You’ve surpassed even the President.
KIM: People like to hear what I have to say. They like to be involved in my life. I’m just a normal person like them.
MALE HOST: Do you think that? Do you think that you’re normal underneath all that gloss?
KIM: Absolutely. I mean, really, I –
MALE HOST: But you sell a lifestyle, a brand.
KIM: Yes. Like, if you can’t even decide what to eat for dinner or what to wear, just, like, Twitter. Instant feedback.
MALE HOST: You’re not stupid, are you?
KIM: Not at all.
MALE HOST: Now, I had this charming cardboard cutout of you made up special. I thought it would be fun if you talk yourself through your own body, good and bad.
KIM: Oh, cute.
MALE HOST: You know, what you like and don’t like.
KIM: Ok. I love it.
MALE HOST: So, what do you see? This thing is really quite accurate.
KIM: I like what I see. My hair and makeup were great this day.
MALE HOST: But what about your body? You’ve had surgery, right?
KIM: No. I’ve tried botox, but everything else is real. You’re thinking of my sister.
MALE HOST: So, those are real?
KIM: Yes. I posted a picture of myself in a bikini at age 13 or 14 a while back. Everyone got the picture.
MALE HOST: I see. I’m allergic to size zero, you know. Puts me into a whole mess of hives.
KIM: I’m a zero.
MALE HOST: No, you’re not a zero.
KIM: I am.
MALE HOST: You’re kind of a curvy zero.
KIM: Yes, I am.
MALE HOST: But are you happy with it?
KIM: Fake it until you feel—
MALE HOST: I would just imagine that if you saw something you didn’t like, you’d fix it. You’re a hard worker.
KIM: I am.
MALE HOST: But what does your boyfriend think? He’s like, what, six foot nine?
MALE HOST: And you’re, what, five foot?
KIM: Five foot three.
MALE HOST: That’s ridiculous. You’re like a little Chihuahua if he takes you for a walk, isn’t it?
KIM: Oh, it’s the best way to feel skinny. Tiny and skinny.
MALE HOST: So, the trick for any woman watching: find a big, tall man.
MALE HOST: Now, you’ve always been in the public eye. Has anything changed since being granted sainthood?
KIM: Not really. I mean, I gave birth to my son on the show, so there isn’t really anything they haven’t seen.
MALE HOST: Do you feel that you have any privacy left?
KIM: Sure, we keep some things to ourselves. I like to keep my relationships private.
MALE HOST: Is there anything you wouldn’t show? Like, will you record your own death?
KIM: Yes. No.
MALE HOST: Would you?
KIM: How would you know when you’re—
MALE HOST: Well, who would really care, anyway? You’re going to die anyway.
KIM: How would you know when? Am I getting killed?
MALE HOST: Why not?
KIM: I just think, there’re some things that I wouldn’t show.
MALE HOST: Now that you’re a religious figure, do you feel that people have more right to be involved in your life?
KIM: Not at all.
MALE HOST: But what about your commitment to the church?
KIM: Being a saint is really about their commitment to me, you know? The Pope has been so great to me. He’s such a kind man.
MALE HOST: I’m sure. I must say, I don’t think we’ve ever had a saint that’s so hot.
KIM: There’s a first time for everything.
MALE HOST: Speaking of first times, when did you–
KIM: Excuse me, but there’s actually something I came on here to say.
MALE HOST: Oh, okay. Well, this is an exclusive.
KIM: You see, when the church sainted me, something changed.
MALE HOST: How so?
KIM: It’s hard to explain. Maybe I should just show you.
MALE HOST: What, what are you…Wait, hey now, just a minute…Put me down! Oh my God, put me down! Security! Security!
MALE OFFSCREEN: No, not the camera! Shit! Not the—
Transmission cuts out.
Interview by L. Valena
Can you describe what you responded to?
It was a video about a minute long of an artificial flower in all these different urban environments. Sometimes it’s getting rained on, at other points you see pollution in the background. It prompted me to think about how something can look real, and maybe it's not its natural environment, but it’s actually not real, and it’s in places where it doesn't seem like it should be, but it’s actually not real, so it's perfectly fine. Like it's not going to die because its not alive.
What happened next?
I like to look at a piece and ask: What questions is it asking? What are the questions that come up from observing the piece or having this experience? And then I kind of cycle out from those questions into questions that are related to it, and begin to answer those questions, and then that informs my piece.
So what questions do you think this was asking?
I definitely had a few rounds of really simple questions, and then moved from there. I think I finally ended up with this question: Why do we seek to feed the things that are not alive? Why do we give our attention to things that can't benefit us and can't benefit from our attention? There's one part of the video where the flower is under a gutter and there's water running past it. Why would you water an artificial plant? Those were the questions that I was working from for my own piece, and I began to think about it. If this flower could be in an interview, what would the flower say? Who is a person who is kind of indicative of this plastic flower? So I decided to go with Kim Kardashian. She is so interesting to me, because she very purposely puts out this fake vibe, and everything she puts out is pretty meaningless in a lot of ways. But her human existence is not meaningless, and who she is is more interesting. So there are a lot of layers there. The Kardashians are something that we watch, and give all of our attention to, but it's not producing anything or growing anything, it's all very artificial and curated. And so that's kind of where my piece started.
And in this particular version of reality, Kim Kardashian has become a modern day saint?
What do you imagine she did to get there?
I don't think she really did anything. I think she was just kind of handed it. She's given a lot of money to the church, a lot of her donations go to her home church, and she's very religious- I think she's Catholic. That's what I was thinking- that she's given so much money to the church, that they just decided that they have to make her a saint now.
I love that- I feel like that's a thing that happened back in the 16th Century. I can't imagine that happening now, but there's totally historical precedent for that- you're right.
Tell me more about writing this piece.
The first few times I watched the video, I thought it was just so funny, and I couldn't figure out if it was supposed to be funny, or I just thought it was funny because I have a weird sense of humor. So I was hoping to write a more comic piece for my response, but I don't know how super comic it turned out, but it really started from a lighter place.
I definitely read it as a comic piece, for the record.
Good. Because the format leaves a lot to tone- a lot of the tone comes from the reader. I think you could read it a few different ways, just because there are no descriptors in there as to how the characters are reacting, you're just getting their dialog. There's a lot to be read into it. I'm glad that you found it comic, I think it's comic, but I could definitely see it not coming across that way. But I just love the idea of this fake TV interview, that it could happen, but it hasn't happened, and this idea of reality TV. Does it actually ever really happen? This duality of something being alive and real and then something being artificial and made to look like something real but isn't real. Most of my writing is either poetry or opera libretti, which is a play written with the idea that everything is sung. This was fun because I was planning to write a prose piece but ended up writing in this other format. I'm really excited by the prospect of it. It was really fun to play with it.
Do you think that Kim Kardashian is, in fact, made of plastic? Does this version of her present as a non-human? Does the fact that so much of her has been replaced with artificial material mean she's no longer real?
I think that she has spent so much time creating a false person around herself. Every person is valid and real, but she definitely has this outer shell of glossiness. It's almost like this idea of an android, and maybe a person's soul is in there, but the whole body is fake. So is it a person anymore? And then you get into this whole Ray Bradbury-style debate. It's not that extreme- I think she is definitely a real person, but I think she spends a lot of her time and energy creating a false version of herself, which she has branded and portrayed to the world. What does that do for you as a person? How small can you soul or personality become? It will never extinguish, but I do think it can become less present or obscured by this fabrication. Of course she's a real person, but she is a very easy target to pinpoint this fakeness that is a huge part of American culture at this point.
What else do you have to say about this process?
I loved this process. When I found out that this existed I applied right away. It's just so interesting to me, this idea of artist telephone. I don't think that someone else would have seen this video prompt and imagined writing a piece about Kim Kardashian becoming a saint and having supernatural powers, so I think it's really fun. And I love prompts- I try to seek them out on my own, but it was great to be handed something that I had no control over, and that some other artist had put a lot of thought into. And the deadline was really short, which forced me to do a lot of work in a short amount of time, and also to keep my piece short. I really like short form, but sometimes I think I over edit.
Do you have any advice for someone else taking this on?
Go into the prompt with as few pre conceptions as possible. Don't judge the piece, just absorb the piece. I think it's really easy to judge art immediately as an artist, and I think it's way more effective for this project to just take it in and process it as if it's a great work of art that you just wouldn't judge. If I go up to a Dali, I'm not going to judge it, I'm going to absorb it and experience it for what it is. I went into this treating the piece I was given the same way, and that made a big difference.
Call Number: C9FI | C12PP.feShe
Aiden K. Feltkamp is a collaborative artist who loves to write opera libretti, poetry, and experimental short fiction. They work for the American Composers Orchestra as their Emerging Composers and Diversity Director, and they're the Artistic Director/Founder of OperaRox Productions, a non-profit that hires underrepresented classical music artists and creates socially relevant opera. Most importantly, they're a trans nonbinary coffee fiend.