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How over-rated is Paris Hilton?

Socialite Paris Hilton is famous for being famous. She has just one prominent movie role, a tepidly received music album and some modelling assignments. It can be argued that even the opportunities to act and record an album came by because she is famous. Is she over-publicised? Sevanand Gaddala probes.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2006 18:25 IST

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.

She declared this in an interview saying, "I'm doing it just because I want to. I feel I'm becoming stronger as a person. Every time I have a boyfriend, I'm just so romantic, and I'll put all my energy into the guy, and I don't really pay attention to myself. One-night stands are not for me.

"I think it's gross when you just give it up. Guys want you more if you don't just hand it to them on a platter. If they want you, then they will wait. You have to make them work for it. I think that's the only way you know if they really want you or just want to be able to brag that they've been with you."

But just five days later she was spotted kissing a guy then photographed making out with another guy 15 days later.

There is something much more sinister about Hilton.

She has this scary but, hopefully, unconscious ability to destroy those around. Many who saunter into her sphere of influence end up in the dustbin of infamy. Hilton's most famous friend Nicole Richie, whom she co-starred with on the TV show "The Simple Life", is now so underweight that she looks like she could die off any minute.

Rod Stewart's daughter Kimberly Stewart, who she used to hang out with, is now suffering from some liver disease most probably due to excessive drinking.

Hilton and her friends once even drove a homeless man to pour a drink over his head for money as they looked on laughing. Lindsay Lohan, who early in her career looked set to do well, is now on the verge of collapse, was spotted with her cuts on her wrists, and has to attend Alcoholics Anonymous.

In one of the most ironic statements uttered by any celebrity, she said, "I'm the nicest, most loyal person in the world when it comes to my friends. I would really do almost anything to make sure they're happy. But I only want friends who are there for me just like I'm there for them. Otherwise, it's too painful."

Even with all this impending disaster caused by her, Hilton's most famous casualty could yet be Britney Spears.

Spears, after she separated from her husband recently having languished in obscurity while giving birth to two children, has gone the other extreme. She has been wildly partying with Hilton and what could be a new low for the two, were photographed wearing tutus and baring their bare behinds.

In a more serious instance, Page Six reported that Child Protective Services had to look in to the welfare of Spears two young children to assure their safety.

The most telling of the impending doom is a picture recently taken with Hilton and Spears walking together with Hilton wearing a T-Shirt that said, "I'm Paris Hilton, I can do whatever I want."

Spears had a T-Shirt on too and guess what it said? "I'm Paris Hilton, I can do whatever I want."

If things with Spears go as they have with other casualties, Spears will end up destroyed, but Hilton will come though unscathed. She is never fazed. With finished careers of friends littered around her, Hilton remains intact. Actually, she becomes even more famous, gets more opportunities and moves along just fine.

And this enduring quality of her is going to ensure that we are going to hear a lot more of her. In 2007, Guinness World Records rated her as the world's "Most Overrated Celebrity". Get used to it. She's here to stay.