Media

Why Does America Hate Paris Hilton?

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Over at the Manhattan Institute's City Journal (and via the great Arts & Letters Daily), Kay S. Hymowitz lays into Paris Hilton with the passion of, well, Paris Hilton eating a Carl's Jr. hamburger onscreen.

Arguably the most interesting motif in the long article is the nod to Osama Bin Laden's moral compass when it comes to talking trash about celebrity skanks. This idea will likely only gain ground among conservatives as Democrats take office in January, the same month that Dinesh D'Souza will make a book-length argument in The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. Here's Hymowitz on Paris:

You don't need to share Osama bin Laden's view of America to see that Paris mirrors us at our contemporary worst. But something still doesn't compute: Why, if Paris says so much about us, do Americans—not just college professors and the commentariat but celebrity watchers and tabloid junkies—hate her so much? And why, if she is so offensive, is she so ubiquitous?

Well, hating Paris Hilton is fun: Americans always enjoy a good sneer at the undeserving and decadent rich. Paris Hilton is our communal dartboard; skewering her gives the American public a chance to reaffirm who we are.

And yet Hymowitz realizes that there's something more to Hilton than The Simple Life star says explicitly:

The only thing complicating this picture of dissipation is that Paris Hilton isn't quite the airhead she plays on TV. She created her persona of Paris the Heiress with an instinct for America's suspicion of the idle rich. Confession of an Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose is the title of her best-selling book. It's the title of a woman who is in on the joke.

Whole thing here.

A few years back, Tyler Cowen wrote a book, What Price Fame?, about the changing bases of celebrity. We excerpted it in Reason but didn't get rights to put the excerpt online but Cowen's conclusion is worth thinking through in any discussion of celebrity culture, especially such as Hymowitz's, which is heavy on moral invective and pretty light on thinking about the pleasures of the audience. Cowen:

"Contemporary stars are well-paid but impotent puppets….These market-based heroes are truly meritorious in one essential way: The serve their fans rather than making their fans serve them."

More here.

And for a dilation on the joy of celebrity watching from the old Suck days, go here.

NEXT: What's Behind the New Violent Crime Wave?

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  1. Sorry, dude. I can watch Paris Hilton eat a burger, wash a car, get out of a car, take it in the ass, etc., etc., but I can’t think about Paris Hilton. Too damn much work! Just saying I won’t do it makes my head hurt. Ouch! No more heavy shit like this, eh? Especially at this hour in the morning!

  2. This isn’t the first time our culture has celebrated women from backgrounds we might call “upper-class” due to their pleasant aspect. An interest in beautiful women was an important part of aristocratic culture, and this remained so in the nineteenth century. Beautiful women could still become ‘professional beauties’ not through success at court, but in the emerging celebrity culture associated with illustrated periodicals and mass-circulated photographs.* Compare Paris to the phenomenon of Lillie Langtry, who got into the being-famous-for-being-famous game back in the Victorian Age.

    Miss Langtry had the advantage of being authentically beautiful, in the pre-plastic surgery age. BTW, which doctor wants to take credit for Paris’ ugly, pointy nose? I’m just a schmoe, but when I was in my twenties I dated ladies with prettier faces than Miss Hilton sports. I guess that, just as there were many actresses more beautiful than Linda Lovelace, in porn or legit films, notoriety has an appeal that mere fame doesn’t.

    Kevin

    *Patrizia di Bello, Birkbeck College, University of London, reviewing History’s Beauties: Women and the National Portrait Gallery, 1856-1900 by Lara Perry, University of Brighton

  3. paris hilton may be “in on the joke” but let’s please not have another, hip ironic appreciation of hilton just because everyone else is raggin’ on her. usually, with most celebrities and public figure there is more to them then how they are generally portrayed. paris hilton is one of the few who isn’t. paris hilton IS “that bad”.

  4. Nick Gillespie,

    When cultures undergo misfortune, stress, etc. they look for scapegoats. During the American Revolution it was easy to find ministers who blamed the whole affair on the ungodliness of “the people.”

  5. Mr. Gillespie provided a link to “The Enemy At Home” which I was stupid enough to click on just to see how the Left (Norbizness, I’m looking at you) caused 9/11.

    I cannot believe D’Souza is actually using this as his argument:

    “D’Souza contends that the cultural left is responsible for 9/11 in two ways: by fostering a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies-especially traditional and religious ones- and by promoting, at home and abroad, an anti-American attitude that blames America for all the problems of the world.”

    Appartently then the solution to preventing another 9/11 type attack is becoming more traditional and religious, less decadent and depraved, and then promoting our transformation to the world. We’d need to dress demurely (especially the women!)

    For this to actually work any dissenting activity and communication would need to be stifled lest the wrong message be communicated. Only the government can provide the resources needed for this carefully crafted program of suppression and message discipline. The “Cultural Left” will also need to be identified, tracked, and dealt with or else they’ll muck it up.

    But even that wouldn’t be enough, you see. An American Taliban still would be unacceptable to our would be attackers because we would still be Christian infidels. Thus, the only way to truly be safe from our would-be attackers is to enforce a transformation to Islam for all Americans.

    So Dinesh D’Souza’s cure to prevent future 9/11’s is for America to become like Afghanistan circa 1998.

  6. I cannot believe D’Souza is actually using this as his argument:

    “D’Souza contends that the cultural left is responsible for 9/11 in two ways: by fostering a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies-especially traditional and religious ones- and by promoting, at home and abroad, an anti-American attitude that blames America for all the problems of the world.”

    This sentiment illustrates pretty well the common idea here in America that there’s no way anybody in the Middle East might have a legitimate beef with the US.

  7. I second t.j.’s plea. And I’ll add that if Paris Hilton really *is* in on the joke, it makes her that much more disgusting, because it means she sold her soul for money (which she already had) and a hollow, empty fame rooted in our slack-jawed disbelief of her stupid depravity.

  8. A better theory: Paris Hilton is not in on the joke, but her publicists are.

  9. I don’t think Hilton is really all that good-looking, but God Damnit, do I love burgers…

  10. The problem with Paris Hilton is that she is a waste of space. Most of us, with or without privilege, do something to justify our existence. At least Britney Spears performs and is talented by someone’s taste. Nicky Hilton at least produces something (her own fashion line). But Paris is empty, just a knick-knack someone forgot to give to Goodwill.
    She does nothing valid with the riches she was born with, and that, in my humble opinion, makes her worthless.

  11. “We went on stage, I insulted her vagina, and now we’re on VH1”

    Gwar, explaining how Paris Hilton indirectly got them a gig on VH1.

  12. One of my favorite Seth McFarlane moments was when he was introducing a Family Guy marathon, back before the show had been resurrected. In a jibe at Fox he said, in a voice exactly like Brian’s, “They’d rather show Paris Hilton half-naked on the hood of a car. But I can’t blame them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have sex with a grasshopper? A-ha-ha-ha! Your move, Paris!”

  13. OPINIONS ARE LIKE OTHER PARTS OF THE HUMAN ANATOMY…..EVERYONE HAS ONE…..I DON’T LIKE IT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE SPEAKS FOR ME…..SO I’LL DO IT MYSELF…..I DON’T HATE PARIS HILTON….I THINK SHE IS ONE OF THE SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD……ENOUGH SAID….

  14. I second Belle. It’s not that she’s rich by inheritance so much as that she’s a waste of food, water, and oxygen that could be used by a real human. There are plenty of trust fund babies out there that spend their riches studying things that the rest of us can’t because we have to pay bills. They can become experts in Hittite or hieroglyphics or Cambrian stratigraphy. She, however, doesn’t even have good taste. Trailer trash with loads of cash.

  15. why are we wasting so much time and attention on rhese nothing people? People who can’t sing and who have the gall to get upon a stage and yell through their noses and call it singing, and people who dress and behave indecently and sell it and get a lot of notoriety out of it, what is there in that that deserves all this attention? This is foolishness.

  16. becauce,she puts the ‘hilton’,name to same. i am a hilton by birth,and iam not related to thiS piece of whaT-ever,let her make stupid actions&comments,without using the name’hilton’and see how far she gets. THAT WOULD BE NO-WHERE.

  17. a waste of breath and flesh? But she was in The Wax Museum!

    I’m just not that offended by Paris Hilton. I’m more offended by the fact that there are too few movies being made these days where a chimp in a diaper slaps someone int he head, then does that “chimp grin” and flips the person off.

  18. Trailer trash with loads of cash.

    Love it to death. If I worked at it for a week, I could not come up with a more succinct, accurate description.

    BTW It seems to me than rich and unknown would be a far more enjoyable lifestyle. Look at me! EVERYBODY, LOOK AT ME! How pathetic.

  19. PARIS who????

    Please STOP giving this piece of TRASH the time of day!!

  20. Jim King, you can have my share of Paris. Free.

  21. well I just think she really needs to grow and and get a better publicist. She could class up her act and do something especailly good in life. There are many charities out there or other organizations. Why not do something like Princess Diana, now mind you she is not but something to help people and get out there and show the people that you are just not another blonde, dumb rich bimbo. I believe in Karma and put out good and you will always get it back. If all you do is put out shit that is all you will get. She needs a good role model and believe me she does not have one in that Hilton home. I would like to see her just transform, make a 180 degree change and really mean it and class it up. I don’t care how much money you have it can’t buy class, no matter how hard you try. I am from the same kind of background and I was there at one time but then I realized what the hell am I doing with my life. I thought all the material things bought me happiness. Things don’t. It is what you do with all that money. she needs to take a really good look at herself and does he want to be 50 and still acting like a sleeze ball, that would not be a pretty site.

  22. Why doesn’t the law step in when Paris and her little friends expose their genitals for the camera’s in public? Do we no longer have indecent exposure laws? The behavior is akin to what some have been charged for under sex crime laws, for merely exposing their genitals in public.

  23. First of all, did you notice the Lefty defending Paris at the expense of a book on culture, and ending with, “This sentiment illustrates pretty well the common idea here in America that there’s no way anybody in the Middle East might have a legitimate beef with the US.”

    Okay, so, you take 1/5th of the worlds’ population (Muslims), and if you strung their accomplishments end to end, this is what you would find: you’d begin with the enslavement of 50% of their population. The mutilation of the genitals of perhaps two-million young women per year, all in the name of retaining their value in marital trade. You’d have a culture with a complete lack of free speech (punishable by death), and the rejection of science and technology, except when it suits their needs to attack and kill, sometimes us, but mostly their own people–which they (and American liberals) turn around and blame on us (the United States). For much of the world, the only impressions they get of America is through our insane media, the Hollywood elite’s ravings, and glimpses of our warped and pathetic popular culture. Meanwhile, the American left wrings its hands that we haven’t historically been perfect, and can come up with every dictator we supported or arms deal we’ve ever made that, in retrospect, looks terrible–all at the drop of a guilt ridden hat. And from all this, according to the Left, we, Americans, should feel deserving of the wrath of a backward people that is intent on world domination, and will tell you that to your face, without rhetoric or subtlety–unless that face just happpens to belong to a woman, then it must be COVERED OR IT IS DEEMED A SIN PUNISHABLE BY DEATH.

    In the United States, the American liberal puts the rights of the individual ahead of the state and culture in this country at every turn. Yet in international policy, or worse, in dealing with foreigners who have settled here, it is the exact opposite. Meaning, we allow teachings of hatred in Muslim schools, RIGHT INSIDE THEIR TEXTBOOKS INSIDE OUR VERY OWN CITIES, where the Jew as an animal and other hatred is treated as a sacred lesson, all in the name of preserving their delicate culture of hate.

    In the end, folks, Paris Hilton is a waste of space and energy, but worse, she is a symptom of a culture gone awry. We are fiddling while Rome burns. And the American liberal, when we are inevitably and too soon overrun by suicide bombers, will blame our foreign policy, but never blame their apologist philosophies for allowing a religion and a people of hate to grow and thrive without contradiction or consequence. We are in real trouble, folks. And after we fall, they will blame oil, white males and global warming as the cause. When in fact, it is simple permissiveness, both at home and abroad, of hate and idiocy, that is going to be the downfall of America.

  24. Justme-It really must be sad to live in a world that’s so completely full of paranoia. Maybe a history class could help with that. Might give you some actual perspective on Islamic culture. It’s really a lot more varied than you seem to think. Pretty impressive too, in some ways.

    Cheer up! Things aren’t that bad.

  25. Lighten up people! A vagina is a side ways smile, they have happy smiling coochies! hehehe

  26. “D’Souza contends that the cultural left is responsible for 9/11 in two ways: [1] by fostering a decadent and depraved American culture that angers and repulses other societies-especially traditional and religious ones- and [2] by promoting, at home and abroad, an anti-American attitude that blames America for all the problems of the world.”

    If some leftist made point [1], D’Souza would probably cite is as an example of American self-hatred.

    There’s a lot of cultural dreck exported from America, but not every traditionalist who sees it will necessarily strap on a bomb belt and blow himself up over it. That comes from the Islamist ideology. One of the earliest Islamists, Qutb (sp?) visited the U. S. in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and was appalled at the decadence of a church dance where unveiled women consorted with men to popular tunes of the era. Bottom line: These guys are *very* easily offended.

  27. I am at a loss as to why anyone would hate Paris. The only thing I can think of is that behind all the hatred is jealousy. I can’t stand people who drag others down to puff themselves up. Yeah I know, you guys work for a living and she doesn’tt have to unless she wants to. SO WHAT? SHE’s A HILTON! I would love to be tall, pretty, slim, in my 20’s and be a Hilton. Lay off the girl and move on. Sheesh!

  28. lynnann,

    If you think Paris Hilton is pretty, you have a pretty fucked up idea of what “pretty” means. She looks like she’s anorexic and has that heroin-chic always tired (because her eyes are half-closed) look going, which might be attractive for a crack whore, but not so much for someone who can eat regularly. There are Russian babushkas who are more attractive, in my opinion.

    And it’s not so much we hate Paris Hilton. Heck, I have no idea what she’s like, other than her appearance, so it’s difficult to hate her. We (and by “we” I mean “I”) just hate having to see that ugly mug on the TV so often. If she weren’t on TV, then I wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about her one way or another. In fact, even now it’s difficult to bring up any feelings but mild contempt for her and a small amount of pity for girls who look up to her, if there are any.

  29. Ok Paris might not be beautiful but she is a hell of a lot younger, taller,thinner and richer than me and I for one am not jealous. I like it when people can walk in a store and buy anything they want. I get the feeling most people can’t do that and are really angry because she can and her biggest sin apparently is that she’s not humble about that. Neener neener.

  30. this is some of the same text as I found in another article about Paris-hating, The Trash Princess, by Kay S. Hymowitz

    check out the link here:

    http://www.cityjournal.org/html/16_4_urbanities-paris_hilton.html

    what’s going on?

  31. Paris you need to grow up ! your little baby voice is old and not impressive in anyway. Do something proactive with your millions actually keep your word and help those who are less fortunate and stop pretending to be all cute when in reality your a snake of two heads. I dont like the fact that you play both sides but how you let your friends “SO called” speak about your employees with such disrespect. I was watching your show World of Paris or what ever is called on Oxygen and will stop after how I saw your friends talk down to your assistant WHO THE FK is she to speak to her that way. I never liked you but now even more so you didnt do anything to stop your friend . Shame on you Paris just remeber money comes and goes and so does friend be smart do something proactive with your life and money your going to be 30 soon or already have and your baby voice with stupidity behind it is not gonna get you much further in life. Just to think you became popular because of a sex tape you did how sad is society for making you a star and how sad is it that I am taking 5 minutes of my time to write this comment.
    GROW UP B&^Ch !!!

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