Socialite Paris Hilton is famous for being famous. She has just one prominent movie role, a tepidly received music album released this August and done some modelling assignments. It can be argued that even the opportunities to act and record an album came by because she is famous.
She did it backwards. Instead of becoming famous for being an actress or singer, like most other celebrities, she got to act and sing because she was first famous.
Hilton's enduring quality lies in the fact that we all, including her, know that she is dumb, untalented, misbehaves but gets away with all this only because she is rich. Her only redeeming quality could be that her ambition has been to use her richness to become famous and for a large part she has accomplished it.
Hilton first appeared on the cultural scene almost eight years ago and at that time she was just known as the heiress to the Hilton hotel fortune. She attended numerous parties and strategically placed herself to be featured in tabloids.
She was fortunate enough in her quest to fame as it coincided with the mushrooming of the Internet and tabloid magazine's insatiable need for cheap and provocative characters to keep the industry booming.
The most shocking and mystifying aspect of the Hilton phenomenon is how such a well, dumb person, could be so famous.
Is it simply because we really don't expect anything substantial from her anyway and so when she goes off showing off her dumbness, we are not the least bit surprised?
In one of the most scathing attacks on any celebrity yet, writer Kay S. Hymowitz commenting on the Hilton plague defined her as a "synonym for American materialism, bad manners, greed, parochialism, arrogance, promiscuity, antifeminism, exposed roots and navels, entitlement, cell-phone addiction, anorexia and bulimia, predilection for gas-guzzling private transportation, pornified womanhood, exhibitionism and narcissism".
This is a woman who once actually said, "One of my heroes is Barbie. She may not do anything, but she always looks great doing it", seriously tried to trademark her phrase "That's hot" in 2003, joined the rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs in an effort to mobilise youth to seriously consider voting in the 2004 presidential election but it was later found that she had herself not voted or even registered to do so.
For her 21st birthday she organised five parties for herself in New York, Las Vegas, London, Hollywood and Tokyo. Hilton has been caught on tape referring to two of her black friends as "dumb niggers".
She has been arrested for drunk driving. She has peed herself in a taxicab in Hawaii. She has vomited onstage while singing her own songs. As if this wasn't bad enough, in July of 2006 she actually went on some quest to rediscover herself and imposed a ban on herself to abstain from sex for one year.