Hilton appeared to be in handcuffs when she was placed into a black-and-white patrol car, which sped away from her Hollywood Hills home with lights flashing. Paparazzi sprinted in pursuit and news helicopters pursued overhead, broadcasting live TV coverage.
— Associated Press
It’s a goddamn tabloid orgasm. And it makes me want to puke. (Oh, in case you forgot: Anna Nicole Smith is STILL DEAD.)
And I’m complicit. I work at a newspaper 2,000 miles from La-La Land, and we’ve been posting the story on our web site all day. Why? Because people will read it. We have statistics to prove it.
This is my first blog item about Paris Hilton. I don’t blog about Hilton because that’s what my coworker Mike does and I don’t want to rip off his clever rants. That, and Hilton is such an easy, easy target. I mean, does anybody actually think she holds any kind of value for our society whatsoever? Have you heard of many Paris Hilton defenders? Doubtful.
But I can’t be silent anymore. This tabloidgasm is absurd.
I mean, here’s a
woman girl who is very obviously over-privileged. She’s famous for … what? The cliche (and I hate this cliche) is that she’s famous for being famous. But something made her initially famous to start the Cycle of Recursive Fame. Does anybody even know what that was?
Anyway, let’s run through the events leading to the current Paris debacle: drives drunk, gets probation, violates probation, sent to jail for 45 days, released after three days, and ordered back to court.
And. This just in.
Screaming and crying, Paris Hilton was escorted out of a courtroom and back to jail Friday after a judge ruled that she must serve out her entire 45-day sentence behind bars rather than in her Hollywood Hills home. “It’s not right!” shouted the weeping Hilton, who violated her parole in a reckless driving case. “Mom!” she called out to her mother in the audience.
— Associated Press
Not exactly grace under pressure.
Certainly, this represents the best-case-scenario for the media. Famous heiress breaks down and weeps in court. Screams for mommy. Is a drama queen. Page one! Cha-ching!
There’s a tendency to want to laugh at this development and call her a whiny spoiled brat. But let’s be honest for a minute: Jail is no picnic. I don’t care who you are. If you’re confined by yourself to a small cell for 23 hours a day, that’s going to take a serious mental toll. It probably would make you sick. Doesn’t mean you should be released (that’s why they call it jail). But nor do I think it’s our place to gloat at someone being locked up, even if it is the painfully annoying Hilton. Yes, she brought it on herself while driving drunk and endangering others, and she deserves what she gets, but that’s not the point. I’m not here to celebrate, as tempting as it is.
I’m here to pose the question: How did we as a media culture get obsessed with this shallow, inconsequential person? She wouldn’t be famous if (1) the media didn’t cover her ad nauseum and (2) the stories didn’t sell papers. The media is complicit, and so is the brain-dead public. Regarding the public, my guess is they are attracted the notion of watching a train wreck. (Certainly not for reasons of talent, as there obviously aren’t any.) Did I say the same thing about Anna Nicole Smith? I honestly don’t remember (and don’t feel like looking), but this line of reasoning seems familiar.
As long as we celebrate this BS, it will continue to drag down our society’s collective IQ and repeat itself. Garbage in, garbage out.
Remember right after 9/11 when everything in our society turned temporarily solemn, and the media became very serious and covered a lot more news and a lot less of this kind of stuff? And we all wished we could go back to caring about pointless nonsense?
Well, we’re back, baby (and have been for a very long time). With a vengeance.