Okay, enough is enough.
As a child of Los Angeles, I’m certainly no stranger to celebrity fascinations. I remember dropping off a note (pre-cell phone/Internet, kids!) to a journalist friend who was trapped at Camp OJ – the media shanty town that surrounded the LA County Courthouse during the OJ trial in 1995.
A big iron gate kept them penned in and lots of trapped, tired journalists milled about under the scaffolding, imprisoned by their own relentless assignment. The word “phalanx” was often used by the LA Times to describe them; a word which I still feel only applies specifically to this group. I recall an exhausted-looking man with a press badge reaching through the bars and half-jokingly grabbing my arm, “Tell my wife I love her!” They had lost touch with the Real World and it wasn’t funny anymore.
Furthermore, in the mid-80s and early 90s, I drove limos in LA and Hollywood to work my way through college. The rear view mirror revealed plenty. There were many, many nights of babysitting drunken entertainment executives and coked-up herds of bimbii, all searching for fame and recognition or at least some silky coattails to ride on. That’s what they were there for, to become one of the popular kids, or to at least break into ‘certain circles.’ Most of them ended up in porn.
Still, in observing the media frenzy surrounding Paris Hilton, I feel the need to break down what is behind it. Even she is mystified, though I fear it doesn’t take much to confound a girl who right up there with W. in trying to make pathetic ignorance seem cool. My favorite trick these days is to make light conversation by asking, “So, been keeping up on the Paris Hilton saga?” which elicits a solid, “No!” Then, a detailed discussion immediately ensues; the latest incarceration tidbits are exchanged. I tried this with my mother recently, “I heard that when the Sherriff’s department went to pick her up, she was planning a party!” she tsked-tsked. “Poor little rich girl is learning some lessons.”
I’ll admit, it was fun for awhile – nowhere near the Tom Cruise Media Meltdown ‘05, of course – but when I saw a photo of her really sobbing, I felt sick to my stomach. Did I feel sorry for her? Not really. I still envy Martha Stewart’s incarceration every time I look at my overloaded nightstand; oh, the reading I could get done! Also, I knew that Martha was and remains a major Bad Ass, a bootstraps kind of gal, and the experience would prove to be a minor speed bump and an inevitable best seller.
Miss Hilton is another story. She is an empty-headed twit whose only contribution to society has been an Internet sex tape, mocking nice people who live simply and paying the rent of thousands of paparazzi. This is the image she herself has created so why do I twinge when Sarah Silverman publicly mocks her? Furthermore, why did Sarah herself “feel dirty” when she did it? (Sorry guys, tried to link to the MTV Awards video and got this: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International Inc.")
It certainly isn’t empathy for the person itself. I’m glad this bobble-headed nitwit is getting her soul scrubbed down by a dirty cell. I mean, 45 days? That’s it?!? She ain’t no fucking Princess Bride worth rescuing, that’s for sure. Still, the public is almost savage in its joy for her situation. I think it’s because we LOVE a good come-uppance, especially when it happens to the stupid, the blonde, the young and the rich. (Sadly, this is the same reason that sexy blonde co-eds who disappear are covered more in the news than numerous darker-toned victims who have met a similar fate.)
To paraphrase an old proverb, PH has made her bed and now must lie in it – only it is harder and colder than she ever imagined. Admittedly, there is something soothing about the privileged getting cut down to size – taken to an ironic extreme, this is exactly how democracy is supposed to work. In a confused sob, Paris alluded to this herself in trying to deflect her previously beloved cameras to the Important Stuff, namely, the “men and women serving our country in Iraq.” Pushed to the edge, this was the first we’d heard that she cared about anyone but herself or had an inkling about the dirty, bloody struggles in the real world.
If I may venture yet another theory: This is about the great balloon pop. I learned this from my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Burhans, when whined to him about the latest dastardly dead of the evil Tommy Bootsma. “Kid,” he growled, “life isn’t fair. Get used to it.” I found out later that Mr. B was going through a bitter divorce and had plenty of life lessons to share. His cold deliverance of this useful fact stuck with me and boy, was he right. At the ripe old age of 26, Miss Hilton is finally learning this lesson in a grand, crazy-ass way and that is why we celebrate.
Welcome to the jungle, kiddo. It’ll prove to be the best thing that ever happened to your charmed little life.