Werner Herzog stands as a towering figure amongst serious arthouse cinema aficionados. He's the kind of man who inspires awe amongst NYU film boys and people who see A24 as a personality. He's won best director at Cannes, succeeded in both narrative and documentary films, and managed to get one of the last known respected performances out of Nicholas Cage.
He is also, as it turns, an admitted watcher of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, perhaps the most divisive television program of the 21st century.
Herzog dropped the nugget while doing press for the Star Wars series The Mandalorian. He plays a character known only as "The Client" in the show, despite the fact that he claims to have never watched any of the Star Wars films (or any of the films by the series' creator Jon Favreau for that matter). This, of course, has opened journalists up to asking what, exactly, it is Herzog does watch.
Variety's Will Thorne asked Herzog about what he watches on television. Herzog admitted that he watches Wrestlemania, something that he's said before, but then quickly balanced that out by offering up his thoughts on the Kardashians as well.
"You have to know what a good amount of the population is watching," said Herzog. "Do not underestimate the Kardashians. As vulgar as they may be, it doesn’t matter that much, but you have to find some sort of orientation. As I always say, the poet must not close his eyes, must not avert them."
Throne quickly wanted to clarify that Herzog, the polyglot German who François Truffaut once called "the most important film director alive," actually does indeed tune in to keep up with the ongoing adventures of Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, et.al. "I’m starting to discover it," Herzog clarified. "I’m curious; that’s my guiding principal."
Feel free to use a similar excuse when you inevitably get bored back home during the Holidays and start binging 90 Day Fiancé just to see what all the hype is about: "The poet must not close his eyes."
As it turns out, Keeping Up is not the first E! reality show Herzog, who speaks five languages and has directed several operas, found himself drawn to out of curiosity. He has also spoken of his interest in the Kardashian show's spiritual successor The Anna Nicole Show as well. According to a 2008 Interview piece, he even once insisted that his friend Roger Ebert should watch the program.
"I said to him, 'Roger, you have to watch the Anna Nicole Smith show,'" he said. "There’s something big about it, a big shift in the wider public’s concept of female beauty, in how vulgarity is invading everyday life more than ever before. And he said, 'No, never in my life.' But then he watched it."
"There’s something momentous about [Smith]," he once said during a talk at the Goethe-Institut according to Vulture. "I wish I could have done a film with her, but it’s not possible anymore.”
We'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there is still time for him to one day make a movie with Kim Kardashian, should he want. The point? If one wants to create art about the world and humanity, it holds that one wouldn't limit their cultural diet to only the high-minded and the critically acclaimed.
So, next time you find yourself vegged out in the middle of a Kardashians binge, just remind yourself that what you're really doing is investigating a big cultural shift.