If social-media influencer and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian thought her 67.1 million followers would be happy that she got to celebrate her 40th birthday with close friends on a private island during the worst of the pandemic, she was dead wrong.
The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star tweeted a string of glitzy photos of her and her glam guests Tuesday after assuring her followers that—despite the worst COVID-19 spike in cases yet in the pandemic—she was being careful.
“After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time,” she wrote, following up with what amounted to a privilege disclaimer.
“We danced, rode bikes, swam near whales, kayaked, watched a movie on the beach and so much more,” she tweeted with photos of her birthday cake. “I realize that for most people, this is something that is so far out of reach right now, so in moments like these, I am humbly reminded of how privileged my life is.”
The internet was not happy. Even veteran rocker Peter Frampton couldn’t bite his tongue, tweeting, “Are you that insensitive you don’t realise this is not what the majority of people during the worst covid spike yet want to hear? People are going to food banks not private islands.”
Others were less subtle, including Kat Kinsman, a senior editor at Food & Wine and the host of the podcast Communal Table, who summed up what many others thought. “You know what would have felt normal for me, Kim? Not having to say goodbye to my mother over FaceTime as she was dying of COVID,” Kinsman tweeted. “Not hearing her ashes be interred over the goddamned phone so I wouldn’t put my dad and sister at risk. Rubbing in this our faces is cruel & clueless.”
Another poster tweeted a sarcastic greeting. “Good for you. I lost four months of pay, still tied up with unemployment and have seen a significant drop in future earnings,” a person tweeting under the handle @MariaKChica wrote, “I’m helping my daughters with childcare and virtual school for my granddaughter. Still haven’t gotten my 2019 tax return. Glad you had fun.”
Writer Jenna Quigley also responded with a not-so-subtle dig. “Cool, people have had to say goodbye to loved ones over the phone while they died alone in a hospital,” she wrote. “But neat trip to post all over social media while the world suffers. So humble and so down to earth, truly.”
Many others, including Ronan Farrow, who pasted Kardashian’s words over Hieronymus Bosch’s depiction of Hell in The Garden of Earthly Delights, made their own memes meant to depict what those in the real world were really going through.
Author Dana Schwartz went Spielbergian with a vintage Jurassic Park movie photo for her meme.
Even New York’s Museum of Modern Art got in on the act, tweeting her words over Henri Matisse’s Dance.
Many people chose to copy Kardashian’s tone-deaf announcement over pop culture images like the cast of Gilligan’s Island, Lost, Game of Thrones, and various zombie-themed movies. One instead chose to use Jeffrey Epstein and his own so-called pedophile island as a backdrop.
Others were more circumspect, posting photos of body bags, hospital beds, and the mass graves quickly dug for the thousands who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
One person posted their own “circle of close friends” who happened to be COVID-19 health-care workers surrounding a hospital bed.
Kardashian has not commented on the backlash.