Saturday, June 09, 2007

In defense of Paris Hilton.

I think I've mentioned before that I feel a certain...warmth towards Britney Spears, the more she falters in life, insofar as I feel anything at all towards her. People who express surprise and shock about her "antics," I think, aren't really thinking. What did people think would happen when a girl from a lower-middle class background in the south is taken out of school, given millions of dollars, and called a sex symbol from the age of 16 on? Without the millions of dollars, she's just like any other girl from Florida - except she's had no formal education, no friends, and no experience with normal life. Of course she's a train wreck. Millions of dollars don't stop the train wreck; they just make it more sparkly. People make disdainful faces about her now; they furrow their brows, flipping through magazines at the check out counter,

"Well, before, it was all in good fun...but now she's brought a child into it."

The kid's going to be fine. When you have millions of dollars, it doesn't matter how together your mom is, as long as she can find a way to buy you a doting nanny with a good handle on child development. And even if not, it's not as if Britney Spears minus money and fame would be any better of a parent (or less likely to be a parent) than she is now. She's just more visible, and, as I said, much more sparkly to look at.

Paris Hilton I don't find as charming. I bet she actually is nearly everything she's accused of: vapid, talentless, shallow, ignorant. I doubt she is, as some seem to think, a harbinger of the apocalypse or a destroyer of the integrity of a generation...but really, believe what you want. But allow me to pose a question: What would you rather she be? Who else could she be?

Lauren Bush? Lauren Bush, Ralph Lauren model from the age of thirteen, from the same family that produced George H.W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and George W. Bush...could have very easily been Paris Hilton. Instead, she's gone to college. She received a prestigious fellowship, to travel around the world and visit children in orphanages. She was recently interviewed about this travel in Marie Claire. It was a two-page interview, followed by an opportunity to purchase a T-Shirt, designed by the young Ms. Bush, to support children in orphanages in impoverished countries.

Ms. Bush is ambitious. She contemplates a career in human service. She mentions in this interview that she did not get this fellowship because of her celebrity status; she had just applied, and she got it. Oh, Ms. Bush. I believe you, precious. I believe that you believe that. Because, otherwise, you wouldn't be able to live with yourself.

Think about Lauren Bush. She will have a fabulous education, followed by a wonderful career in whatever she chooses, which will provide her with money she will not need, some of which she will donate to people who do, most of which will go to buy trinkets and stocks and ridiculous luxuries, made guilt-less by her orphan safari and other ventures. And each opportunity she gets, like the fellowship- is one that she takes away from someone else.

Her college admission. Her future internships. Her career. Every thing she does, which she is RICH ENOUGH NOT TO NEED TO DO, is going to be another opportunity lost to someone who may have achieved it through merit and hard work (I'm not saying Ms. Bush has no merit, or has never worked hard; only that when one is that privileged, and that connected, it is impossible to suss out what has come from what source).

I prefer Ms. Hilton. She will never need a job. She will never need an education. Thus, she declined to get one. Even her ridiculous television programs took nothing away from anyone. No one could star in The Simple Life, except for a vapid and useless socialite. She is the embodiment, the open and naked result of privilege and nepotism, un-shrouded in virtue or charity or stylish concerns...The only thing she has ever done that was actually, literally, destructive to society was drive drunk. And, arguably, by sparking a debate and outrage over her preferential treatment in prison, perhaps some good will come from it. If people grow outraged enough, perhaps some change will happen. Maybe public support for prisoner's rights will grow, as stories about young men dying in prison from neglected absesses and apendicitis while Paris gets a pass because she can't get her lithium.


Rob said...

It is not mentioned in your post, but Paris Hilton was sent back to jail, as the judge was apparently upset that his specific instruction that she could not be put under house arrest in lieu of time in jail had been violated.
What I would like to discuss is this. Does this represent an inequality in justice? It has been said that Ms. Hilton received a harsher sentence than people convicted of the same offense. While this may very well be true, I would contend that even with a harsher sentence, she did not receive unjust treatment. Let me elaborate. Let's say I did the same stupid things as she did (also, for the sake of this discussion assume I actually have a job). Let's say I had to serve a lighter sentence, two weeks or whatnot. Here is what I would be faced with. Unless there was fortuitous timing, there is a good chance I would not be able to pay my rent and possibly lose my residence, or just go into some nasty debt Theoretically I could lose my job, and even if I didn't, having something that that occur would produce long term negative consequences for my career. This is in addition to whatever psychological, physical and social consequences that come along with spending time in jail. I would say, that by virtue of being exceedingly wealthy, Ms. Hilton avoids the worst consequences of being convicted of a crime. She has no career to ruin, she does not risk being unable to pay her bills. She just has to spend some time being uncomfortable, with people who are less likely to cater to her. Which I think she deserves, because I am exceedingly jealous of people with ridiculous amounts of money, and I am sickened by wealthy people who don't truly understand how fortuitous they are to have so much money, and how little they deserve it.

Roger Williams said...

Christopher Hitchens nailed it exactly right regarding the Paris Hilton coverage. The scolding is almost as insufferable as the "story".