Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kim Kardashian for Mayor? When Public Service Becomes Publicity. (+Video)

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Kim Kardashian for Mayor? When Public Service Becomes Publicity. (+Video)

Article excerpt

Kim Kardashian sort-of announces that she wants to run for mayor of Glendale, Calif. Yes, California has its share of celebs-turned- politicians. But reality TV is changing the game.

Whether or not Kim Kardashian is serious about her pseudo- announcement that she wants to run for mayor of Glendale, Calif., a town of some 191,000 in the shadow of Tinseltown, her words have set off a local media tizzy.

The first point of discussion - aside from the mere fact that it's Kim Kardashian - is the equally important fact that no one can run for mayor of Glendale, not even Ms. Kardashian. Glendale's mayor is one of the five members of its city council, appointed to a single-year term on a rotating basis.

Second is the mode of her declaration: It came in a YouTube video of an unaired outtake from her sister's "Khloe and Lamar" reality show, in which the Armenian-American actress says she is "for real" about her intentions to run "in, like, five years," because Glendale "is, like, Armenian town."

On that last point, Kardashian is correct. Glendale is home to the largest Armenian population outside the mother country. And her fame as the star of another reality show, "Keeping up with the Kardashians," has two city council members reportedly backing her bid, with one even offering her the post of "honorary chief of staff" as a crash course in politics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

But Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger, she is not, say political analysts. Yes, California has a long history of celebs- turned-politicans, from President Reagan and former Governor Schwarzenegger to Clint Eastwood (mayor of Carmel) and Sonny Bono (US representative).

But Kardashian's proposed run points more toward a disappearing line between publicity-seeking and public service, says Gary Woodward, professor of communication studies at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.

"What seems to be happening at every level of government, from the Senate on down to the office of mayor in Glendale, is that people are seeking public office more as a way to establish identity than to actually do the difficult work of governance," he says. …

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