Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Understanding Paris, Or A Long-Winded Rant On Pop Culture

I’ve spent a good portion of the last two posts dedicated to Paris Hilton, her hacked address and date book, and why you would be intrigued to read the intimate details of the celebrity’s life. I realize now since the blog bordered on Page Six-type content, I should explain why I’m interested in Paris.

Paris is a huge celebrity, having turned into one of the most recognized people on the Hollywood party scene, and the contacts in her address book shows that she has a connection with everyone from Stephen King and Mark Philipoussis (which I just spelled correctly on my first try) to Vin Diesel and Lil’ John. Unlike other people under paparazzi spotlight, like her best friends Christina Aguilera and Lindsay Lohan, Paris really doesn’t have any talents or skills that separate her from you or I.

Paris is really attractive, but she’s not drop-dead gorgeous. Put her in a line-up with Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria and Anna Kournikova and she’ll get picked exactly 0 out of every 100 times as the woman you’d most like to be with. She’s sickly thin and sort of creepy at times, not unlike Lori Singer in Footloose. She can’t sing and she hadn’t acted in anything besides guest spots on The OC and Las Vegas, yet she gets more ink in your supermarket tabloid than anyone not named Brad, Jennifer or Angelina. The Simple Life came after she had gained popularity, and it’s not exactly a staple of American pop culture. Sure, there was the sex tape, but that’s a conundrum in itself, because it brings up the age-old question “Did Paris make the sex tape popular or did the sex tape make Paris popular?”.

We understand why some seemingly talentless individuals achieve fame. You look at all the reality show retreads who are milking their fifteen minutes for everything they’re worth, and give you a nod – at least they did something, as ridiculous as it may have been. Sure, Trishelle only set some sort of MTV record for making out with people on three different shows, and then having the most dramatic bicycle crash – at least until Jacques wrecked the moped – in either histories of Real World, Road Rules or the Challenge. So without any particular talents, how in the world did she get so popular? Tara Reid at least made one fan-favorite movie (American Pie) before hopping onto the elitist party scene, then spiraling downward with her partying and multiple-boyfriends into the model for what everyone hopes potential teen queens don’t become.

I’ve narrowed it down to two basic reasons. Number one is the fact that she is just filthy stinking rich, something that immediately makes everyone a hundred percent more intriguing. You throw in the immediate envy factor that everyone now wishes they could at least have the opportunity Ms. Hilton had – with the monster inheritance forthcoming – and she’s immediately piqued the collective interest. You can use that money for whatever you like, to meet whoever you like, wherever you like.

The second part of her popularity has a lot to do with today’s culture. In the US Weekly/In Touch Magazine world we live in, celebrities are amazingly accessible. You know what Natalie Portman had to eat last Thursday night and you’re well aware that Lindsay Lohan is partying it up with Tulane students every night at The Boot with Samaire Armstrong. Paris decided to use the fact that she’s extremely wealthy and apparently easier than pie to immerse herself in the celebrity culture everyone who reads the gossip columns wishes they could be in. Everyone wants invited to P-Diddy’s birthday party, and while Paris not only gets invited, she makes out with five different guys while there and has a lesbian threesome afterward.

Now you have this outsider, with nothing separating them from you and I except wads and wads of money, and they’ve crossed the border into the celebrity world. They don’t belong there, realize there’s no way for them to stay permanently unless they do something to give them genuine fame and then you start getting the guest spots, the reality TV shows and the sex tapes. Considering half of Manhattan and LA have already received blow jobs from the heiress, it’s not that traumatic for her to be seen giving one on night vision camera in order to get her name out to anyone in the mainstream who may not have heard about her. Back then, she was just the “hotel heiress”, not reality show star or budding film actress.

Paris Hilton is a celebrity because she’s a celebrity. Through some measure of luck, the right amount of exposure and knowing certain people, she is now a universal watermark for American pop culture. The only person close to her is really Jessica Simpson, who fell off the face of the world like the rest of the bubblegum poppers, only she made the great career decision to marry another former pop star, have their lives video-taped and act like a complete and total fool. The first Newlyweds was quite addicting, right up until the point you just couldn’t handle the stupidity, whether faux or not, anymore. Without that show, Simpson turns into a nobody. Nobody cares about her new album, because she’s just another airy-voiced ex-pop star, and nobody cares about her sister, and nobody cares about her relationship with Nick to the point it’s all over every talboid. But again, at least she sort of did something.

I guess the entire point of this spiel is that I’m extremely interested in how you could take a normal late-teens, early-twenty-something girl and make them into another Paris Hilton. You’d need a few prerequisites, like above-average good looks, a few connections to at least get onto the party scene initially, and of course, a willingness to try any drug, alcohol or sexual position thrown your way. After awhile, since you won’t be hosting any of your own parties, just jet-setting around to others, the money would not be important, meaning after an initial expenditure for the wardrobe and first round of drinks, you’d be fine.

Someone, probably from US Weekly or People or something, needs to do this. Can you imagine the series of articles or documentary you could make, following the rise and fall of a wannabe teen queen? Morgan Spurlock or Michael Moore should get off their high horses of proving points and should jump all over this. I’ll only take 5% of the profits for suggesting the idea, because I’m assuming that’s going to be a monstrous amount with the success this will have, as you all will only have to fork out the eight bucks to see the movie or the three bucks for the magazine. But I figure that’s a small price to pay for seeing exactly how one does stumble into becoming one of the most notable people in pop culture.

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