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Lindy McDowell: Kylie Jenner should be so lucky after making $1bn by selling dream

Self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner
Self-made billionaire Kylie Jenner

By Lindy McDowell

Is Kylie Jenner rich? Do football managers chew gum? This has been a good week to ponder upon the nature of fame and fan worship - the good, the bad and the lucrative.

To begin with the last first, hackles, voices and ungroomed eyebrows were raised in surprise and disdain this week after the globally respected Forbes magazine revealed that Ms Jenner (21) has become the youngest "self-made" dollar billionaire in the history of the universe. Ever.

Not bad for a girl whose major job skills are pouting and the artistic application of lip gloss.

A reality television star since the age of 10 when she joined the rest of her extended Kardashian clan in the cringey show that catapulted them all to fame, Kylie has raked in most of her fortune through her cosmetics range.

The success of which owes much to her colossal popularity on social media. Her millions of fans.

None of this impresses the critics though. She's not "self-made" they sneer, having had that invaluable brand boost via television exposure. And her social media/cosmetic range achievements - that's all airhead stuff, isn't it? She's selling snake oil and artifice to impressionable young girls, and in the process she's selling her soul...

I'm not so sure.

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If Ms Jenner were a "self-made" businessman selling sprockets or computers I doubt if the clamour of criticism would be quite so pronounced.

A not-exceptionally beautiful or talented young woman, she's captured an impressive slice of the cutthroat cosmetics market by building up a vast and adoring international fan base. That is an art in itself.

Her trick is in selling a dream, convincing the fans that, like her, they can make the most of what they've got whether it's ambition or good cheekbones.

Yes, maybe she's had to sell her own privacy in the process. But she's also flogging make-up which, while wildly priced, does have a very sound reputation in the industry.

Another star building the fan base of late is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who's been serving as caretaker manager of Man United.

I knew Man U were doing well in a game this week when the commentator on TV screeched that "the air is being sucked out of the Parc des Princes" as the team hammered the much-more-fancied Paris Saint-Germain.

And also when the commentator on the sofa beside me (he's a Liverpool fan) whooped at this victory.

Solskjaer is a canny northern lad (he comes from way up north in Norway) who's carved a place in the heart of fans by giving his team self-belief and encouraging them on to glory. A long-term player with United, he now speaks with a bit of a Coronation Street accent.

Loyalty to the team is a big deal to the fans (as Brendan Rodgers will attest).

And Solskjaer has given those fans something to cheer about.

Success is a big deal too. But it doesn't fully explain or define that alchemy that sets some people apart, that wins them the admiration and following of millions.

An admiration that can sometimes tip over into blind, unquestioning devotion.

Which brings us to the other name in the news this week.

Long after his death, Michael Jackson is finally, belatedly, being exposed as the paedophile he undoubtedly was.

A new film features the compelling evidence of two of his victims.

Jackson was enabled by a society star-struck by his popularity and seduced by his undisputed talent.

Throughout the world millions of fans were devoted to their hero.

And despite the evidence now emerging many still continue to protest his innocence.

That's not devotion.

That's delusion.

Impolite Trump no title winner

Among the many things Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have a handle on is name-calling. Proper name-calling that is.

There’s a story about how before their initial meeting he used to refer to Chinese leader President Xi as President Ex-one.

Finally an exasperated aide suggested that to get a handle on the correct pronunciation he should maybe think of President Xi as a woman. As in President She.

This week Trump suffered another name fail. During a conference with business leaders he referred to Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, as Tim Apple.

To his credit Tim Apple didn’t even blink at this.

It does provide some insight though into why Trump resorts to nicknames (often quite nasty nicknames) for people with whom he interacts. Little Rocket Man was far from the worst.

Maybe it’s because he can’t remember what they’re actually called. Or because he can’t be bothered trying to remember.

Either way it’s a poor reflection on the man they call Mr President.

If you want to win friends (or allies) and influence people, one of the first rules has to be to show respect for them. And that involves knowing their name and calling them by the right one.

You’d think a world leader, no less, would understand that.

But Trump blunders on regardless.

As that Tim Apple could tell him, courtesy is at the core of diplomacy.

Symbolic statement by Jeremy

I’ve noted before how Theresa May is a bit of a fan of big chunky, beady necklaces. Meanwhile, and maybe it’s an attempt to make a statement of his own, Jeremy Corbyn is turning out to be a bit of a badge fan. Every time he’s in the Commons I notice he has a different ribbon, symbol or charity pin attached to his lapel. I have no idea what they all mean. But I do think it’s a reflection of the charisma of both May and Corbyn that the most striking thing about them is their accessories collection.

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