The scariest thing to happen this Halloween didn’t take place in a haunted house or involve monsters, vampires, or ghouls. (Well, that last part is up for interpretation.) No, the most terrifying horror movie aired on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram story, as the Twitter account @lollindz flagged Sunday morning.
It showed Kendall Jenner at her combination Halloween/birthday party, which was attended by at least 100 people, blowing out candles on her cake as a waiter in a face mask, standing inches away from her, recoils.
Not even a week has passed since the Kardashian-Jenner clan ignited global outrage for their tone-deaf trip to a private island to celebrate Kim’s 40th birthday. Yet again the family has been caught throwing a raging party in West Hollywood where, like on the private island, only the waitstaff seems to be wearing masks.
“Caught,” of course, is an inelegant word for this, as the pandemic’s most socially active globetrotters have fastidiously documented each blood-boiling soiree on their social media pages.
I’m no Dr. Fauci, so forgive me for not being completely read up on all the proper COVID-related safety protocols that we mere plebeians are forced to adhere to in order to, uh, not die. But I don’t believe rules about the length of quarantines, social distancing, and not having another raging party less than a week after your last one in an entirely different country have exemptions for people who take private planes.
And so there is that server holding the cake, a person, like so many American workers right now, at risk just by doing his job, while a supermodel who has made international news for partying in a pandemic cannon-blasts particles from her mouth inches from his face.
The two events, so smothered in privilege, delusion, and poor taste, are baffling from a family of celebrities who, at least at one point, were uncomfortably media conscious. Now that careful awareness has metamorphosed into a callous addiction.
It’s not just that they’re frolicking around these metaphorical middle fingers to the rest of us like they’re dancing around a goddamn maypole. It’s that they’re publicly bragging about it. Kim framed her birthday party as a channeling of our universal desire to feel like things are normal right now; both she and Jenner have followed up the immediate attention from the scandals with disingenuous calls to vote.
The whole thing is almost dastardly in nature, with the decision to document these things on social media akin to some sort of celebrity villainy. They’ve become almost Trumpian in their shameless flouting of COVID guidelines, holding gatherings we’ve all been instructed not to have, then half-heartedly explaining how they minimally mitigated risk, put service workers in danger, and then publicly boasted about it.
They might as well rename their show for its final season, Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ COVID Terrorism.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health advised in an Oct. 31 memo, “The scariest thing residents can do tonight for Halloween is gather with others outside of your household to celebrate,” given the record spike in cases across the country. It stipulated, “Residents that gather with up to two other households, should do so only outdoors, wearing face coverings, and keeping six feet of distance the entire time.”
The rough count of attendees at Jenner’s bash was 100, according to TMZ. Should you be interested in knowing what other celebrities felt it appropriate, let alone safe to attend, the site lists Justin and Hailey Bieber, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Scott Disick, Travis Scott, Kylie Jenner, Jaden Smith, Paris Hilton, The Weeknd, Justine Skye, Quavo, Doja Cat, Winnie Harlow, and Saweetie.
Entertainment Tonight reported that everyone, including employees, was given a rapid COVID test when they arrived at Harriet's Rooftop at the 1 Hotel for the bash, and could only proceed upstairs to the party once they received a negative result. Even with this precaution, Jenner and the party organizers knew the optics of what they were doing were bad, as flyers for the event reportedly instructed, “Take all the photos you want, but please do not post on social media of any kind."
No one is naive here. It’s been abundantly clear since the beginning of the pandemic that in our new reality, the rich and famous will find ways to minimize disruption to their lives and access to safety, healthcare, and normalcy in ways that the rest of us won’t.
Rapid testing for Kendall Jenner’s Halloween party at a time when testing is scarce for the teachers and students forced to return to schools, essential workers are unable to afford the time or the cost of frequent tests, and the rest of America is being told not to see their families for the holidays because there’s not enough testing available, is absolutely infuriating. But predictable.
Yet it’s the characterization that they’re doing nothing wrong, which is how one can assume they feel by the way they share photos and videos of these parties, that stings the most. It’s not just when Kim is framing her birthday trip as something we would all do if we were able to. Maybe she’s right. The fact is that we can’t. But we can do the things we’ve been doing—wearing masks, staying home, only meeting outdoors, quarantining after trips, not having massive parties—because it’s a sign of respect for those at risk around us, and because the sacrifice together is the only way to get through this.
All of this is especially confusing given that Khloe actually battled the coronavirus. If there’s a brain cell or two in there, she and the family should be extra cognizant that no one else should go through it. Not only anyone in the family, but also none of the army of workers deployed to stage these grotesque wealth and luxury pageants, and who likely don’t have access to the same kind of health care and testing as a goddamn Kardashian.
On the crassest level, maybe a PR-savvy family could predict the potential Q-score catastrophe should an outbreak or, God forbid, deaths be linked to one of these flagrant events. They say the devil works hard, but Kris Jenner works harder. But Kris ain’t got nothing on Miss Rona.
We talked about this already after Kim’s birthday trip, but this is an opportunity to double down. There used to be reasons to justify the Kardashians’ reign as public figures and cultural influencers. But that was in Before Times.
These last months have put into sharp focus what humanity needs and the precarious power of public platforms to shape that. And no amount of SKIMS by Kim Kardashian shapewear can contain the damage the family has done to the last bits of goodwill towards them.