"Fucking Hilton!" exclaimed Amy Sherman-Palladino. In a recent interview for Entertainment Weekly, the Gilmore Girls creator took a swipe at the heiress to absent-mindedness – after all, remind me again how this woman got to be so famous?
Sherman-Palladino is talking role models here, and while the very idea that said Paris could be one seems paradoxical enough to rip the space-time continuum of our universe apart, truth be told she's an idol to thousands of young women and teen/tween girls. Despite an internet sex tape. Despite a complete lack of vocab. Despite an engagement to a guy (also) called Paris. Such things do not make a role model. By admission though, if riding the cusp of fashion or keeping A-list company gets you on the front of Vanity Fair, then kids these days are more than likely to aspire to be you; meanwhile, making the cover of Time constitutes shockingly, much, much less.
Traditional feats of achievement just don't cut the mustard anymore. Getting shot nine times or married to Demi Moore on the other hand, counts for plenty. Higher still, in youth currency looking Hot is valued most of all. Over on Planet Hilton, unintelligence is bankable too, but also extremely alarming: being dense and uneducated is one thing, but propagating (or retailing) it through a television show is something else entirely. That The Simple Life (Hilton's inane "reality" road-trip through rural Americana with gal-pal Nicole Richie in tow) ran for three whole seasons is a disturbing fact in itself; that people watched it, and rooted for a couple of rich, privileged socialites clueless to no end lends only further proof to the notion that stupidity is the new cool. Brainless, yes, and yet Hilton survives – and thrives – in the public arena, something that isn't as unusual as it sounds: remember, the country is run by a man of seriously questionable intellect. But it's far too easy to heap blame on Bush, even if youth literacy appears on the decline, text messaging has rendered English obsolete, and the apostrophe is close to extinct. If you really want someone to point the finger at, the buck stops with Paris Hilton: after all, this girl isn't so much a person, but a living, seething brand of platinum and hot pink.
Critics say she's an expert at feigning the "dumb bitch" role, and together with Jessica Simpson and The Newlyweds, there may be some truth to that. But while The Simple Life may be in part a send-up – the whole "Wal-mart... do they make walls there?" head-clanger really just a self-scripted faux-naif – I don't buy that it's an act for a moment. On an episode of The Late Show with David Letterman earlier this year, Hilton was interviewed, and came across pretty transparent, I thought; so inarticulate and unresponsive was she, Dave could have just as well been talking to an 8-year-old. Or a brick wall. The words "like", "so" and "hawt" were repeated incessantly though (the latter trademarked, would you believe); similarly, kids today rely on a pea-sized lexis that extends about as far as "retarded" and "gay". What to get them this Christmas? A freakin' thesaurus.
Or the Gilmore Girls (repeats 5.30pm weekdays, TV2). According to Sherman-Palladino, a genuine role model for young women (or anyone for that matter) is Madeleine Albright. Who? The former first female Secretary of State. Coincidentally, Albright is to guest star in an upcoming episode of Gilmore Girls (season six, yet to screen here).
This, in an age where fickle celebrity guests are courted to appear at the beckoning of a publicist. No doubt that fame rates and is a marketer's dream, but to bypass the fail-safe pulling power of an "it" girl, and gun instead for a politician – or in the case of season five/episode six, Norman Mailer – deserves ample credit where it's due. No other show right now could pull a Mailer or an Albright off (on The O.C, they don't even know who Kofi Annan is), due in no small part to the world Sherman-Palladino's curated: full of clever, slightly eccentric people gifted with either prolific literary knowledge, obscure musical taste, guilty movie pleasures, encyclopedic pop-cult/current affairs awareness, or all of the above.
And how about this for a role model? Young, female, academic, reads obsessively, studies fanatically, aspires to attend Harvard, reads obsessively, wants to be Christian Amanpour, buys the New Yorker, has a Dave Eggers poster on her wall, reads obsessively...Clearly there's something askew in the world if girls would rather be Paris Hilton than Rory Gilmore (one half of the Girls), while guys would rather their perfect woman to be blonde and dumb as opposed to smart and cute. This happens to be as good an indication as to how shitbrained society can be: droves of vain, materialistic valley girls and their sunburnt boyfriends take comfort in having the lifestyle of Me reinforced by the Hilton image (including the illusion that being rich and aloof gets you places), while those few who know better and can see the forest for the trees value – albeit as a small minority – the much-needed idiosyncrasy of characters like the Gilmores. So they're the stuff of fiction, but at least they setting the right kind of example."
I know they're plugging the show but everyone who watches it says how different Rory is to other teenagers on tv. Well, was, since that show is no longer airing save for glorious repeats (which is when I caught the Gilmore bug).
I have to admit that Rory on paper and comes of as goody two shoes and a young woman who looks down and smirks at those she believes is below her. I hate people like that. So I am relieved to say she actually is the furthest thing from that when you watch the show. The girl has soul. And she's full of passion. And her one liners are truly witty. She lives her life. It's not for a second more boring than those who go the sex tape and jail route. And as a result her life is better; she values it. She hasn't compromised herself.
I want someone who's made sex tape to say they did it because they wanted to be known as a woman who loves sex and looked at in a dirty way and be notorious for that. For this dirty need to be known as whore or a slut. We all like to play dirty sometimes. Sex tapes could be their kink, I "dig" that.
But no it's just to get money! To get ahead in the world. And yes call me naive because I dare think you don't actually need to compromise yourself all the time to all these different extents to get ahead. Do something if you have a passion for it. Otherwise, I feel there's no need to prostitute yourself. Unless you value social status so much. But if you have any soul, you would as the wonderful quote goes, take the road less travelled by and that making all the difference. I believe so much in this quote.
And people aren't even interested in exploring. Look at sexuality; it's become cliched and this is when sex is one of the most honest things, beautiful things we have the luck to have.
It's one thing to be Lauren Conrad. It's another to be Paris Hilton. One I care a little about. The other, reminds me of those posers famous centuries ago and famous now, pompous, deluded, with males strutting around like dandies. She may care about the war, about terrorism, about violence, about medicine, about cancer, about poverty, homeless people but I couldn't care less that she cares.