CHENNAI: Kim Kardashian West’s documentary about her work as a criminal-justice advocate was released this week — sparking both amusement and applause online.
“Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project,” which is streaming on Oxygen, follows Kardashian as she fights for the release of Alice Marie Johnson, a single mother who became a drug mule out of necessity and was given a sentence of life plus 25 years in the early 1990s.
The camera captures the reality star telling a group of prisoners, “I just saw something that seemed really unfair to me and I thought that I had a voice.”
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Back in July, I visited the Correctional Treatment Facility in Washington D.C. to discuss the Georgetown Prison Scholars program with Dr. @marcmhoward. Recently, I spoke to Dr. Marc as he teaches his course at Georgetown University. I seen a few familiar faces that were recently released from prison. They all spent over two decades in prison and they were also on the chat speaking to students as Dr. Marc teaches his course. Their names are Momolu Stewart, Halim Flowers & Roy Middleton. This makes me so happy to see them recently released from prison doing such great things. I can’t wait for you guys to watch my documentary, to get a better understanding of the justice system and see what it’s like for someone like these men to get a second chance at life after prison. Tune-in to my 2-Hour documentary #KKWTheJusticeProject this Sunday, April 5th at 7/6c on @oxygen.
Justice is a part of the whole endeavor, but in the documentary Kardashian comes first. The film concentrates on her efforts to educate herself on the law and prisoners are used as emotional camera bait, with the star appearing every so often to make comments like “her story broke my heart” about various cases. But what if a case were not to move the star emotionally? Would it also merit her attention? Only time will tell.
The documentary highlights harrowing cases — a woman raped by her step-grandfather who eventually kills him and another who is not protected by sex trafficking laws and is tried as an adult despite being just 15.
Viewers could be left frustrated by Kardashian’s sometimes naïve approach — “even seeing her, you could see how sweet and quiet and maybe easily influenced she could have been as a child,” she says in one scene for example.
There is also sneaking suspicion that Kardashian, however much her concern for the incarcerated men and women may be, is looking for some kind of publicity for her own achievements. A certain lack of selflessness appears to be missing here — the constant flash of cameras as Johnson declares she was granted clemency by US President Donald Trump, after Kardashian met with him in 2018, does leave a bitter taste — but on the flipside, perhaps this is exactly the kind of exposure these incarcerated men and women need?
In the end, we wonder whether the documentary – which was nicely edited at two hours-long – is for the prisoners or for Kardashian herself.