The Point of Perez (and to some extent, Paris)

PEREZ HILTON IS a blogger, a stereotypical bitchy narrator; a self-created mogul of controversy.

Not forgetting that he is the self-proclaimed Queen of all Media whose name isn’t actually Perez or Hilton but actually Mario Armando Lavandeira; he has managed to survive three non-stop showbiz-busy years as one of the most popular bloggers in the entire UNIVERSE.

Perez, whilst snorting at the D-list who summon all manner of reality shows to rekindle their fame and fan base, he is, in fact, a reality TV star himself. Whilst some would say this makes him a hypocrite rather than a critic, I would say that it actually makes him overqualified for the gossip-blogging job. According to the LA Times, his blog gets over 7 million hits a day – which is like, 11.6% of the UK population, like, totally taking a coffee break to look at the notorious pink pages. Speaking of pages, Perez, like any self-respecting celebrity entrepreneur, has recently branched out into the book industry. With a book entitled: ‘Red Carpet Suicide: A Survival Guide on Keeping Up With The Hiltons’, maybe it’s time to ask: What is the point of Perez Hilton?

Perez Hilton dot com is frequently rubbished as regurgitation of the desperate individualistic culture that emnates from Hollywood’s hills, and by blogging, he too is a victim. The difference being… he never victimises himself. Lavandeira’s persona is unafraid of de-constructing public images, especially those images where the celebrity and their status is defined by personal chaos. Whilst the new ‘stars’ are not openly dissected in the manner of a cultural academic, there is always the sting of irony and childishchris-crocker humour in the images with written tags that cut though the gloss. The milder audience member might see this as insensitive victimisation. You know. Stars go into rehab because they have problems… and then all this justification leads to hysterical citizen journalism culminating in LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! Etc.

As tacky and obvious as the Perez posts may appear on the surface, his on-screen banter is quite relevant to an increasingly narcissistic and visual-centric culture which questions the public and private space of the modern cultural icon. Perez exposes the rules of the paparazzi: if you are an ambitious public figure eager to get snapped, don’t expect any respect for your private life.

Something interesting to look at are his posts about Paris Hilton. Paris is an example of a celebrity brand who made it through the fallacy of a ‘leaked’ sex tape, before becoming the ultimate MTV generation icon through constant exposure, as if she herself were on a film reel – to appeal to the 80s kids’ allegedly low attention span. She is both her own product and advertisement.

Yet, the fellow Hilton is never, ever derided.

"paris visits gran by way of 28 store" by getty images

"paris visits gran by way of 28 store" by getty images

Surely, like Britney and now Jessica Simpson (whose relative non-exposure is being slammed as evidence of a nosediving career), Paris would typically be featured as one of the train-wreck/car-crash females he provides commentary for? She’s in the public eye, a trivial figure with little to offer by way of opinion or creation, arguably untalented…and Perez adores her.

It’s because Paris Hilton is a celebrity who is conscious, rather than self-conscious, of her celebrity. She never complains. She doesn’t act like the paparazzi aren’t there, stalking her.
She is the ultimate mannequin, heirhead and a businesswoman to boot. Not self-made, but a self-made media commodity. She delivers what people appear to want: her vain persona. And she does so without holding back. It is physically clear that has nothing to hide, therefore she doesn’t play out the role of the suffering, emotional human behind an image. She IS an image, and Perez can’t fault her for it. She plays by the paparazzi rules.

A response from her Nylon interview is quoted on Perez’s blog:

“I’m smart and I know what’s going on. I can laugh at myself; I’m in on the joke. I know what you guys think of me, and I’m going to play into it and make you laugh at the same time.”

Paris: she’s pretty. She pretty much knows what she’s doing. Perez loves it.

The popularity of his blog portrays a shift in how celebrity gossip is consumed by its audience.

Perez has a role as a 24/7 columnist, and a narrator in an unpoliced environment where there are no journalistic ethics to stick to. This has its drawbacks – Perez can quote and make stories from unqualified sources. There are also advantages – he is free to comment and make stories from unqualified sources which in turn create a kind of warped fan-fiction within the media world. And sometimes, such fiction about very real, yet plastic characters…turns out to be true.

perez at mtv

perez at mtv

Whilst Oscar Wilde’s primary concern was wisdom and literature which satirised the aristocracy, Perez is the ironic and, at times, scathing raconteur who addresses everyone from the Z-list to those pumped out by the traditional Hollywood star-system with the same sardonic tone.

The only problem is that the paparazzi want to sue him for using their photos.


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