It’s been one year since Arthur Kade, ex-financier turned cult Philadelphia personality, embarked on his journey to fame! How’s he doing? Certainly, most of my friends still have no clue who he is, but Kade himself says he’s known on every continent on Earth, even — even! — the great continent of Alaska.
Sure, Kade has partied with the few celebs who ever come to Philadelphia, and he’s been on Gossip Girl for several seconds. Just this week, he debuted — spoke! — on Showtime’s La La Land. Of course we’ve all heard about his reality show in development with IMG and book deal with Trident Media. Although, when we contacted IMG, we found it difficult to find someone to confirm the Kade show; some didn’t know what we were talking about. And Trident Media never responded to our requests for comment. But who are we? Kade’s likely telling the truth, but maybe he isn’t top priority at either firm.
Now, our news! In honor of Kade’s anniversary, my Penn colleagues Heidi Khaled and Brett Bumgarner and I cut a short, ten-minute version of our documentary on Arthur Kade, Fame: Kade Style:
We were unable to get access to Kade directly — apparently IMG owns his image (and yet he posts on YouTube daily?). Still, with some help from members of the media and academy, we did get a handle on the universe of Kade. Not really “who is Arthur Kade?” but more “What is Arthur Kade?” We reveal the haters, the media, his career, misogyny, homophobia (against Kade), etc. We tried to cover as many bases as possible. It’s a good introduction for anyone wondering what all the fuss is about.
Many, many thanks to Philebrity‘s Joey Sweeney, journalist Dan Lee and Professor Michael Serazio for lending us your time and thoughts! This short version is missing a lot: interviews with haters and some great Kade clips, including more personal/less obnoxious stuff and a few other bits, like his monologues. We did post separately a Kade vs. Michael Douglas video, both reciting the “Greed is good” monologue from Wall Street.
So what do we think of Kade? We don’t hate him! Actually, I think he’s almost brilliant. Our friend Mike Serazio put it well when he said, at the end of our video: “Maybe he’s the only authentic one here, because he’s willing to acknowledge fame drives him. We’re all fameballs in a social-networked, web 2.0 world.”
I do think people hate on Kade because he’s doing what many of them don’t have the guts to do. Sure, he’s largely untalented, and Americans believe, generally, in rewarding talent with fame: why else is American Idol the most successful show on television right now? Yes, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, etc. exist, but few people really love or respect them, except ironically or as camp icons. Kade allows us to hate him. He barely gripes about his haters. In fact, he pretends to be oblivious to criticism, allowing dozens of YouTubers to make hate videos and anonymous blogs without annoying cease-and-desist letters or pleas that he needs to be taken seriously — well, not usually anyway.
I think Kade is almost completely sincere, as sincere as any of us ever are. I just think he’s done “too much.” He puts an awful lot of effort into producing his persona. He blogs and posts pictures nearly every day. He posts YouTube videos more than once a day. As of today he has 670 YouTube videos, posted in just 365 days! He tweets now too. Kade epitomizes web 2.0; he’s flawless in that regard. He unleashes himself on world to a ridiculous degree. And the consequences are very revealing. What does he get in return for his overweening self-promotion? 136 YouTube subscribers and 688 Twitter followers (as of today); even I have more Twitter followers than that! (As of today).
Kade is a great symbol and perfect moral tale. Just because you work really hard to put yourself out there online, doesn’t mean you’ll be paid back with fame and fortune. Sure, maybe Kade’s purported reality show will make it on TV. But as Philebrity’s Joey Sweeney told us, “The best he could hope for is a reality show, and what happens to people when their reality shows end? Nothing.”
I’m not a pessimist by nature. I’m actually an idealist. I believe the web can do great things for Hollywood outsiders; it’s why I’m studying original web series. But “making it” is never easy, and I think we’re all more than skeptical Kade will. Who knows, though, right? Crazier things — and crazier people — have happened.