The divorce papers have been filed, yet still, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West remain this generation's ultimate power couple. Within six-plus years of marriage and more than eight years together, the reality TV star and rapper have written the book on what celebrity coupledom looks like in the Internet age. Their tacky eccentricities have provoked such fascination over the years that even with the Internet memeing and mocking their demise, the ball remains firmly in Kimye's court.
Celebrity couples have always inspired fascination. Unsurprisingly the only thing bigger than one star is two together. Think of Beyoncé and JAY-Z, Jada and Will, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky; a coveted photo of a celebrity couple can be worth upward of $1 million. And while the concept is as old as celebrity obsession is ridiculous, none of these couples have carved out their own lane quite like Kim and Kanye.
So, what is it about them that’s so beguiling? For starters, it's the utter bizarreness of their world and its illusion of proximity. Ironically, while the pair has shamelessly exploited their private life in Keeping Up With the Kardashians, people have tended to look at their relationship as something that transcends reality.
Before the Kardashians, Kanye was already one of the most brilliant and fascinating artists of our generation. Rap purists who miss the "old Kanye" believe that things went downhill when his fame became inextricably tied to Kim's. However, in actuality, Kanye’s megalomaniac tendencies really took off when she came into the picture. If anything, she helped him sharpen the tools he used to build his platform on a new level — and vice versa. Within the last years, Kim (who Kanye once described as only "talented at being beautiful") pivoted from infamous sex tape and reality TV fame to a veritable businesswoman with an empire worth almost one billion dollars. She is also now a legitimate force behind the ongoing pursuit of prison reform.
While Kanye's "Christian Billionaire Genius" status is not Kim-dependent, nor is Kim's fortune credited to anyone but herself, the fact that their combined net worth now stands at a staggering $2.1 billion is, whether you like it or not, a testament to the historic powerhouse they built together.
What's more, Kimye mastered the art of filtering out details about their lives. We've witnessed the pair's obscene opulence and seen them indulge in endless vanity, all in the service of their celebrity. From resurrecting the dead as holograms to starting a church, the couple reminded us repeatedly that rules of normalcy do not apply to them. Because of that, much of the public perception has veered towards the negative — but on the flip side, the empires the two have built (both separately and together) prove that, if we're being honest, nobody really wants "normal" from a celebrity couple.
Yet even in light of how outlandish Kim and Kanye constantly remind us they are, they still repeatedly punctuated the supposed artificiality of their relationship by living through difficult moments in public. Kanye's persona as a provocateur was only exacerbated with his marriage to Kim Kardashian, and the mercurial hip-hop superstar has made more headlines for his off-stage antics than his music in recent times. Despite the mounting drama of his scandals, including a bid for the presidency, they have become a vehicle for larger cultural conversations about mental health amid his ongoing struggle with bipolar disorder. And while his antics have often drawn widespread ridicule, Kim has always either stayed silently in his corner or publicly defended his behavior.
No other couple has thrived on celebrity quite like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Together, they were an American phenomenon. And while everyone is preoccupied with headlines about their divorce, it's worth pausing for a minute to consider how, together, they reshaped what celebrity coupledom looks like today.