As more and more clueless and uncaring characters have made their way to Cuba during recent months, we’ve been following them there. Recently we took note of the Chanel fashion show that Karl Lagerfeld brought to Havana, spreading a thick layer of Seventh Avenue glitz over that crumbling city’s decades of Stalinist grit and grime. We’d be remiss if we didn’t add to the list the family whose name has become synonymous with the utter indifference of privileged Western celebrities to political and economic systems that have denied other people the rights and opportunities that have made them (i.e., the celebrities) rich and famous. We’re talking, of course, about that awful, ubiquitous clan whose name begins with a K and who, in early May, took their reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, to the island prison as part of their endless effort to stay in the spotlight and cultivate world-class photo ops.
“Both the Karl Lagerfeld Chanel fashion show and Kardashian trip to Cuba for their TV show is emblematic of celebrity culture at its worst,” Cuba-born Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told the Los Angeles Times. “I know it might be a high bar to ask famous folks to draw attention to human rights abuses by the Castro regime, but playing a role in making Cuba a fun, no-worries destination is nothing but a cruel trick on the Cuban people. The Kardashians are taking lots of selfies in Havana, but are they taking stock of the reality on the streets they walk on?”
If you believe the gossip corner of the New York Post, Page Six, the Kardashians were “freaking out they [couldn’t] post on Snapchat in Cuba.” Even better, they didn’t managed to scare up the kind of attention there that they’re accustomed to. “Finally,” observed CNN’s Emily Smith, “there’s a place where no one cares about the Kardashians.” But this doesn’t mean that their slumming didn’t make headlines back home. In a welcome departure from the usual stateside indifference to such hijinks – at least according to Refinery29 (“the fastest growing independent fashion and style website in the United States”) – a photo posted by Khloé K. on Instagram, which put on display “the Kardashians’ apparent lack of knowledge (or disregard for) the country’s fraught political and social history,” made many social-network mavens “livid.” The picture (above) shows Khloé standing in front of a wall on which is written Fidel, the name of the never-elected monster who led the Cuban “Revolution” and served as “president” of that totalitarian empire for nearly half a century until, in 2008, he yielded power, nominally or not, to his brother, Raúl.
The picture, reported Refinery 29, “garnered comments on Instagram accusing the Kardashian[s] of disrespect and ignorance,” with some followers comparing the picture “to a tacit endorsement of Hitler.” Charged one commenter: “Might as well stand in front of a picture of hitler [sic] with emoji hearts in your eyes! I’m Cuban and this is fucking disrespectful.” Many social-network fans noted that the snap was particularly bemusing given the fact that Khloé “has spoken up about the Armenian genocide.” But the surprising thing, needless to say, isn’t that these PR whores are insensitive about Cuban Communism; it’s that one of them has even heard of the Armenian genocide.