The Kardashiad, Part 14: America’s Only Baby Finally Arrives

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images Daniel Edward

Artist Daniel Edwards’s sculpture L.A. Fertility, a life-size statue of a nude, armless, heavily pregnant Kim Kardashian, was on display more or less exactly where you’d expect it to be, in a gallery tucked in among the fashion and high-end furniture boutiques of La Brea in Los Angeles — close to LACMA, but closer to a really big Lamps Plus. I went to see it on Saturday, the day Kim gave birth. I guess you could call it a pilgrimage, although we’d just eaten breakfast across the street, so it wasn’t a long one. The truth was I felt like something important had happened, and I didn’t know what else to do.

Edwards’s previous works include this creepy statue of Britney Spears on all fours giving birth to son Sean Preston on a bearskin rug, this creepy bronze cast of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez as a nearly naked Adam and Eve, and this creepy interactive art installation depicting Paris Hilton spread-eagled on an autopsy table, still clutching her cell phone. I’d read a little bit about him when the Kim statue was unveiled earlier this month. He and the Huffington Post seemed to deserve each other. Edwards says L.A. Fertility is a response to media criticism of Kim Kardashian’s baby-weight gain and a celebration of her beauty. Edwards’s publicist said in a press release that “[w]e live in a media-absorbed culture where anyone can access and share a celebrity’s most intimate moments,” and that “Daniel visually captures that intimacy.” I imagined his work sitting uncomfortably/provocatively in spaces traditionally reserved for work of a higher brow, lying in wait to offend the 2013 versions of the people Jeff Koons used to offend.

And some of his art may well do that, I don’t know. But if there’s anything confrontationally trashy about L.A. Fertility, it’s negated by the context in which it’s currently displayed. It’s in the back room of a gallery otherwise full of “street art” of the worst kind — stakesless repurposings of pop imagery presented without comment in spatter and Krylon, portraits of Patrick Bateman and Mr. Monopoly and Amy Winehouse as Queen Elizabeth, that sort of thing, the kind of hustling post–Mr. Brainwash junk that fancies itself as a commentary on consumer/celebrity culture but actually comes across as dumbstruck and prostrate before it, created by enterprising pseuds with a bright future designing “provocative” CD covers for Green Day.

I mean, look, I write a pretentious column on the Internet about the Kardashians, which means I’m throwing stones from the front porch of a glass house insouciantly adorned with neon Louis Vuitton logos and pictures of monkeys in space helmets when I say this, but Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis is five decades old this year; maybe let’s stop pretending there’s still anything daring about spraying some drippy paint on a blown-up image of Madonna, except for the part where you put it on sale for the sticker price of a 3-series Beamer. Anyway: The proximity of all this other stuff to L.A. Fertility means that by the time you actually make it the hundred or so feet from the door to the statue, the receptors of your brain devoted to processing irreverent meditations on celebrity are well and truly scorched. Or mine were, anyway.

And while it depicts her as a fearless goddess, the Kim of L.A. Fertility actually seems sort of forlorn and defenseless when four-walled by all this screamingly attitudinal skater-dude art. I read later that Edwards wanted gallery-goers to feel encouraged to touch the Kim statue and rub its belly for luck and so forth, but even if I’d known that, I probably would have felt weird about doing it; what I really wanted was to throw a blanket on her. Instead, I handed my phone to my wife and asked her to take my picture with L.A. Fertility. We knew we had to do it fast. There were two curators in the place, a man and a woman. I’m pretty sure the male curator’s main job was just to walk the floor and remind people by his presence that they were in an art gallery, which in a place like this is actually probably kind of an important job. Plus, I guess with a statue of any polarizing figure you’ve got to keep one eye open for potential Lazslo Toths looking to chisel themselves into history.

We got two pictures of me with the statue, then the guy walked in with an I know what you’re doing look on his face and my wife got intimidated and put the phone away; I think she may also have had to run and stop our 3-year-old from toppling the pedestal under a $1,500 Munny. Both the pictures are out of focus, as if Statue Kim were somehow refusing to allow me to ironically participate in this blessed event.

Baby Kimye was born Saturday morning; we know this. And by the end of the day — thanks, loose-lipped hospital staffers — we knew the baby’s weight (five pounds, low but not unusual given that she arrived between four and five weeks premature). We knew that Kim apparently made a last-minute decision to give birth naturally instead of getting a C-section. And we know that at some point afterward, Kim’s onetime BFF Brittny Gastineau showed up at Cedars-Sinai to visit her. Brittny Gastineau! Reportedly excommunicated years ago after daring to advise Kim against marrying Kris Humphries! According to IMDb, Gastineau hasn’t appeared on Keeping Up since Part 2 of 2011’s “Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event”; I assumed she’d ceased to exist. Are they friends again? Or did Brittny just straight-up Amy Jellicoe the Kardashi-birth?

I had too much time to think about all this. Prior to noonish on Father’s Day, when official comment finally arrived in the form of status updates from Khloe and Kris Jenner, baby Kimye’s arrival was heralded by a period of coordinated radio silence on the part of the Kardashians and their intimates. Nobody tweeted a tweet or Insta’d a ‘gram or called in to E! News or keeked something to Keek — the video-sharing social network that I’m pretty sure no one uses except the Kardashians, who seem suspiciously into it — for what felt like forever. It was super-weird. It was too quiet.

Even as of late last night, the most recent posting on Kris Jenner’s Instagram was from Friday, a black-and-white photo of Audrey Hepburn with an Academy Award pressed to her cheek accompanied by a quote from Hepburn about being happy (most important thing in life, apparently) and a tag from Jenner thanking rich-person-magazine magnate Jason Binn for “the inspiration.” Kim’s last Instagram postings consisted of a string of archival bikini shots, with the customary “#ThrowbackThursday” hashtag, although around the third or fourth one it became pretty clear that this was less about nostalgia and more about Kim sending out a message about her once-and-future hotness — to the world, to Kanye, maybe to herself.

I wanted to know what was up; I also wanted to go on not knowing. The cynical part of me knows or thinks it knows that at some point some tabloid will pay Kamp Kardashian a truly grotesque sum of money for the exclusive right to share Kim and Kanye’s joy with the world, and that a family-wide embargo has prevailed in the meantime because Kris Jenner’s still breaking People magazine’s balls over deal points. But at the same time I find it heartening to imagine that these people, who’ve spent six years taking every opportunity to waive their basic human right to privacy, might have decided to invoke it at a moment like this, a moment that we non-Kardashians should really not be able to access and participate in. Like Kanye said to the New York Times last week, “This is not America’s baby.” Little Kimye Donda Pusha-T Keek Illuminata LeCorbusier Kardashian-West will have her whole life to be intruded upon; if nothing else, her time in the incubator should be off the record.

This week’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians aired as scheduled, with a message on the E! crawl telling us that Kim had given birth and that we should stay tuned to E! for updates that E! wished us to believe were forthcoming.

Shaken up by the recent swatting of the Kardashian home, Bruce decides he wants to buy a gun. Swatting is when someone calls 911 and reports a shooting or hostage situation at the home of a famous person, causing a SWAT team to show up in error; it’s like sending someone a pizza, except with heavily armed guys in Kevlar shouting Move move move! There was, I feel the need to emphasize here, no actual shooting at the Kardashian home, which does not stop Bruce from saying, “If that were to happen, that nut is still out there.” Why would he still be out there? Wouldn’t he have been captured or killed by the SWAT team? Is Bruce worried about gunmen, or Batman? Kim tells us she doesn’t believe in guns. And just how do you think Spain won Calabasas away from the Chumash Indians, Missy? Politeness?

Khloe gets her neck cracked at the chiropractor. Kim gets a call from her attorney; Kris Humphries’s people have pushed the date of her divorce deposition again. Rob’s there, too; he’s lying face-down on one of those massage tables where you put your face in the padded thing, but it’s unclear if he’s actually getting a massage or just likes putting his face in the padded thing like it’s some kind of Temple Grandin hug machine.

Bruce meets Kris for lunch. He’s wearing huge, dark aviators. Kris says, “Those are cute glasses — did Kourtney buy those for you?” in kind of a snide way, which is funny because Kris is wearing an even bigger pair of dark sunglasses. She looks like Terminator X. Bruce tells Kris he wants to start keeping a gun in the house and that everybody’s going to need to go take gun-safety classes in preparation for its arrival, including Kendall and Kylie, and Kris says, “My 15-year-old is not going to gun school,” and that’s the end of that. Just kidding — it totally isn’t. Because then we see Bruce, Brody, Brandon, Leah, Kendall, and Kylie at a paintball range; afterward, Bruce plays with his hair and Brandon plays with his hair.

Rob walks into Scott’s office and asks, “Do you stuff your shit?,” referring to his crotch. Scott avows that he does not. They have a conversation about guns; Rob tells Scott that Brody Jenner “has, like, crazy amounts of guns.” Why Brody is stockpiling a Punisher-grade arsenal is an inadequately explored theme here; is he worried about some coming uprising in which C-list reality-TV celebrities will for some reason be first against the wall? Anyway, Rob says he wants a Glock, and then Shenanigans Cue No. 487 plays as Rob and Scott walk around the house looking for a good place to hide a gun. Scott tells the talking-head camera that he’d be worried about having a gun in the house, implying that if Kourtney had access to a firearm, he’d be dead in two weeks, which is absolutely true.

Khloe calls Kris from New York; Kim, who’s just gotten off a plane in L.A., is on her way to the hospital. She’s in excruciating pain. Kris rushes off to go meet her, but not before grabbing some paperwork off the table in the foyer. Sure. It turns out the baby’s fine — there’s a possibility that Kim has appendicitis, but apparently she doesn’t. The day ends with Kim in bed under the covers, still in pain. “If labor is worse than this, I’ll hang myself,” she tells Kris. “I’ll really take a knife and slit my throat.” (Later on, Kourtney calls Kim for an update; Kim’s friend Carla answers and tells her what’s going on. Kourtney’s had two kids; you can tell she thinks Kim’s being a baby.)

Bruce takes his side of the family (minus Kylie, who’s not into it) to the gun range. At first Kendall’s got a gleam in her eye about the whole deal, but when it actually comes time to start popping caps she becomes visibly uncomfortable. When Scott jokingly asks if it’s OK if he holds the gun like this, the instructor begins to doubt his commitment to firearm safety and kicks him off the range.

Kourtney shows up at Kim’s place, carrying two yoga mats. Kim’s lying on the bed, still in pain, still upset about the divorce stuff. “The anxiety that I have is so ridiculous,” she says. She’s wearing a lot of makeup for someone who can barely stand. Kourtney advises her to put her feet up and stay in bed and watch movies, because her days of lying in bed watching movies are about to end, and Kim tells her not to say that: “I literally cry when I think about that.”

More gun stuff. Kendall’s experience at the range has apparently turned her into Wayne LaPierre; when Bruce and Kris start arguing about the gun thing again, Kendall takes Bruce’s side. And it’s obviously just her trying to piss her mom off, but still. Then we see Brody and Brandon hitting golf balls and talking about whether Brody should get another gun, because, who knows, maybe there’s a Bling Ring out there that just steals flannel shirts? Eventually Brandon concludes, “There’s a big debate going on right now about gun control, and a lot of people are really divided.” The more you know.

Kim shows Khloe a colorful bag containing a little package of infant diapers. “This guy in Vegas handed me this,” she says. “How nice!” Totally! You should absolutely take anything you’re handed in Vegas and put it right on your baby without a second thought.

Kim visits her mom at the Jenner house. We can see flecks of pollen floating around, picking up the light. “What’s all this stuff flying around in the air?” Kim asks. “I think they’re pussywillows,” Kris says. “It’s, like, snowing pussywillows.” Kim tells Kris that Kris Humphries’s legal team is trying to deny her motion for divorce, and that she’s sad. Kris doesn’t take off her giant black aviator sunglasses in this scene because she’s really good at consoling.

Bruce goes to a gun shop in Glendale and tells the guy behind the counter, whose name is Sean, that he’s interested in buying a gun. He tells Sean that he tried a 9mm Glock at the shooting range, and Sean says, “I’ve got a few 9mm Glocks available,” and this relentless sales pitch works on Bruce, who’s immediately all OK, great, and I also need a gun safe.

The morning before her divorce deposition, Kim unburdens herself to her makeup artist, telling her that she wishes she and Kris Humphries could be friends. Look at the time: It’s 8:23. She gets in her black Land Rover and pulls out of the driveway, headed for court. Three paparazzi follow-cars immediately fall in line behind her car, and you’d have to be a real bastard not to feel at least a little bit bad for her.

Next week: Seems there might be something wrong with Bruce’s brain. Good thing he has a gun now!

Filed Under: Kanye West, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, The Kardashiad

Alex Pappademas is a staff writer for Grantland.