Philosophical Question: Does Paris Hilton Make the World a Better Place?
*Like a model, she represents a certain style that moves style as such forward. Style and fashion, like different forms of art and expression, make life more interesting and better, in addition to being an economic-cultural commodity.
*As an heiress and "famous for fame's sake" celebrity, she takes we peons out of our daily lives and entertains us with her dalliances, celeb friends, and run-ins with both morality and law. Famous people serve an end-in-itself function: entertaining and delighting we the audience.
*Negative-positive role model: Ms. Hilton represents the worst of American culture, but paradoxically, its best. Andy Warhol would surely both love and despise Paris Hilton: her vapidity, self-aggrandizement, her triangulation, her shallowness, all emblematic of a post-WWII American economy based on a flight from Marxist materialism and a race to the pop-cultural dreamscape, not poorly represented by the delusions of grandeur and flights of fancy of our President, George W. Bush -- famous lover of "cowboy" iconography.
*Paris Hilton seems to be of low morality, i.e. her sex tape
*Hilton is rich because of an accident of birth.
*Her media personality, and coverage of her frivolous lifestyle, annoys people.
*She does not use her wealth for the betterment of the world's poor and needy.
*Hilton represents a consumerist approach that is economically exploitative and fosters inequality.
*Hilton makes young women insecure by causing them to unsuccessfully imitate her looks, disposition, and lifestyle.
*Her singing and acting are both atrocious; as a celebrity, she has little talent other than looks and style sense.
*On a personal level, Hilton makes the citizens of Los Angeles County less safe with her poor driving.
*Hilton has uttered racial and homophobic slurs, accessible on YouTube.
*The list does not end here.
Ever the apologist for the famous, I believe that on the stat sheet, Paris Hilton makes the world a better place -- in the same way that Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan benefit the world. Simply by being themselves, they generate wealth for media outlets and garner the attention of bored people looking to step out of their dreary lives for just one moment with an InStyle or US Weekly magazine. Spears, Lohan, and Hilton are all superstars in their own right, as evidenced by their year-after-year place in the celebrity headlines.
All have their personal peccadilloes, which make them more accessible and more interesting to an American culture less interested in fiction than celebrity "nonfiction." While Samuel Richardson's Pamela found an eager audience in 1740s Great Britain, we have "real" celebrities. Coincidentally, the character Pamela has much the same personality as a Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, when their "media personalities" are considered -- namely, character traits of a lack of self-knowledge, naivety, natural looks and talent, and -- most importantly -- the ability to force others to desire.
Yes, desire -- get with it, people. Those who would argue that desire cannot make us better lead us not. While I teach English in Midwestern Outpost, my heart is in Los Angeles, where the wonderful world of mechanical reproduction, so supple, its semantic beauty so far-reaching, now resides in, but not within, the personalities of people like Paris Hilton. And thereby she has elevated us.