lifestyle

No, the Kardashians did not put Lamar Odom in a coma.

Today, a family are standing around a hospital bed, willing a man back to life.

Yes, the hospital is in Las Vegas, and the family are among the most famous in the world.

Yes, the airport than runs alongside the infamous Vegas Strip is choked with private jets as sports stars like Kobe Bryant fly in to join the vigil.

Yes, doctors that only the mega-rich can afford are being employed, and a horde of journalists and photographers are camped outside in the 33-degree heat, waiting to snatch an image of a famous face contorted in emotion, a heated argument, a comforting embrace.

Right now, medical professionals in that hospital, as well as an army of nurses, florists, cleaners, wardens and cooks will be fielding bribes for skerricks of information about what’s going on in one room, in one bed, of their facility.

That’s because the man in the bed is Lamar Odom.

Lamar Odom via Getty.

He is a famous basketball player. But that’s not why the cameras are there. The cameras are there, and the bribes are being offered, and his status was even reported on this morning’s Australian ABC news report, because he was once married to a Kardashian.

But is that also the reason he is in the hospital bed? Did his association with a family well known for selling everything to the highest bidder ultimately land him at a brothel in country Nevada, foaming at the mouth after a three-day sex and narcotic binge?

Did his short marriage to Khloe Kardashian inevitably end with him in a coma, suffering multiple strokes, with his kidneys failing?

Plenty say yes. Today in the Daily Mail Piers Morgan wrote that Lamar should never have had tried to “Keep up with the Kardashians”.

Lamar Odom with the Kardashian family.

There are entire websites devoted to ‘Men Who Have Had Their Lives Ruined By The Kardashians’ where Lamar’s name appears next to Kim Kardashian’s ex-husband, Chris Humphries, her hapless brother Rob and of course Scott Disick who has recently left his family after succumbing to his long struggle with alcoholism.

And there are a hundred tabloid covers that paint Khloe and her sisters as vampiric man-slayers, emasculating rich powerful men left, right and centre.

Post continues after gallery:

Can it be true that these women – this clan of strong females led by their matriarch who together are worth more than $300million – are trampling through the lives of these poor innocent men, dragging their names through the dirt, forcing them to fall to their addiction demons, bleeding them dry, casting them aside?

ADVERTISEMENT

No. It cannot.

Lamar Odom has been struggling with his addiction for years. His father is a heroin addict. His mother died of cancer when he was 12, and he was raised by his grandmother in New York. He was 18 years old when he was first arrested, for soliciting prostitution after he was released from school to pursue his talent for basketball.

Khloe and Lamar on their wedding day.

He then entered the world of professional sportsmen, not an industry known for restraint. He had already been living in that world for 10 years when he met and married Khloe Kardashian, at a time when her reality show stardom was exploding.

Lamar and Khloe were married for six years. In Hollywood, that’s around 20, although they split after just over four. They famously married in 2009 after only knowing each other for four weeks, and spent the next few years trying to prove everyone wrong about their relationship. They made a reality show proclaming their love, they released a fragrance (unfortunately named Unbreakable), they were open about their fertility problems, their sex lives and pretty much everything that reality stars are expected to be open about.

Take a look through Khloe and Lamar’s love life. Post continues after gallery:

But there was something they weren’t discussing so openly. Lamar had a drug problem, like his father before him, and when their marriage finally ended in a glare of tabloid publicity in late 2013, it was amid reports of crack cocaine use, infidelity and chaos.

Khloe, contrary to most expectations, never really went to town on her ex. In public at least, she expressed sadness at what she couldn’t do to save him from himself, and how much she had loved him, and how badly her marriage had failed.

Anyone who has ever loved an addict knows that there is only so much you can do. Addiction does not fight fair. Even if you are Khloe Kardashian, with seemingly limitless resources at your disposal.

Yes, Lamar came to hate the fame and attention, the cameras and the promotional carousel. Their show was cancelled after two seasons, amid reports that he was no longer interested in filming every aspect of his life. After his divorce, the constant paparazzi attention grated – he was frequently involved in scuffles with the press. His basketball career was on the skids.

But did his encounter with the kind of fame everyone wants but no-one knows how to live with really drive him to the steep decline that’s ended here, at a hospital bed in Las Vegas?

ADVERTISEMENT

Are the Kardashians to blame also for the devastating death of his best friend Jamie Sangouthai, who in June died of a flesh-eating illness that was caused by unclean intravenous drug use?

No. No more than Kourtney Kardashian is responsible for her long-time partner Scott’s ongoing alcoholism. Scott too is the child of addicts – his mother was a reported alcoholic who died within weeks of his father in 2013 – who has struggled to deal with fame and money and the identity of being part of one of the world’s most famous franchises.

But did Kourtney, her mother and her sisters keep pouring the drinks that saw him lose his family? No. In fact, they footed the rehab bills, just as Khloe is footing the medical ones for her ex-husband today.

Post continues after gallery:

We don’t know how to feel about the Kardashians. They are a family of almost all women with an unparalleled influence on popular culture who have completely reinvented themselves.

We mock the origins of their fame (a sex tape? A reality show?) as we wonder why everyone wants to talk about them all the time. The fingers they have in so many pies – clothing ranges, perfumes, kids’ clothes, homewares, weight-loss products, credit cards…) but we happily dismiss the work ethic it takes to achieve that. They are a thoroughly modern phenomenon, happy to constantly overshare in a way that actually gives nothing away, able to make and break careers with the push of a Post button.

The Kardashian women.

We disapprove, so it becomes easy to blame them for the seemingly terrible situations of those who fall into their orbit.

Maybe we just don’t know what to do with relationships where the power balance is so clearly in the woman’s favour. Maybe we just don’t know what do with powerful women who don’t shy away from their sexuality. Maybe we haven’t got our heads around a world where you can make $300million without actually MAKING anything.

Whatever. Lamar, and Scott and the others before and after them, are grown men who knew what they were doing.

And they are people with issues that are bigger than a reality TV show.

And if there should be any question about the Kardashian women and the debris of broken men around their feet, it should be this: Why do such incredibly powerful, driven and disciplined women think that they only deserve the love of some truly broken men?

That’s the real question.

00:00 / ???