June 8, 2007
The tragic side of the Paris Hilton saga
[Update: Amanda totally said it better than I did. Grumph.]
Okay, so here’s the timeline of the current everybody’s-talking-about-it celebrity saga:
- May 4: Paris Hilton (who, as far as I can tell, managed to garner fame by being famous; don’t ask me how that works) is sentenced to jail for violating her probation.
- Mid-May: implications were made that Hilton wouldn’t be serving the full 45-day sentence.
- June 3: Hilton enters the Century Regional Detention Facility.
- June 7: Hilton is released, ostensibly for mental health reasons, to serve the remainder of her sentence under house arrest.
- June 8: Hilton is forced to return to jail to serve the remainder of her sentence — the full 45-day sentence, it would appear, as opposed to the shortened sentence.
(A timeline that starts with Hilton’s arrest in September can be found here.) You may be wondering why I find this to be tragic. First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with what Melissa said (I know, you’re shocked!) on Monday:
Yes, she says stupid things and does stupid things and makes bad decisions and, by all accounts, is neither a very kind nor enlightened person, despite ostensibly having every opportunity to be instead intelligent, graceful, compassionate, and interesting. The thing is, starting life with a glut of potential and ending up an indulgent, dim-witted wreck isn’t funny. It’s tragic.
Paris Hilton is a mere 14 months younger than me, and I find it interesting how completely different our lives are. And yet there’s a basic similarity — I have to imagine that I too would be sobbing if I were in her place. Does she deserve to be punished for breaking the law? Without going into the issues I have with our criminal justice system, I’ll say yes. Does she deserve to be jerked around the way she has been lately? No. So, again, this really isn’t funny.
And furthermore, I find the amount of attention this saga is receiving from the mainstream media to be tragic as well. Did you notice all the various news sources I was able to cite when putting together that timeline above? Tonight I watched Countdown, and while I wasn’t fully paying attention, I think the Paris Hilton saga made up two of the five stories covered. (I don’t want to get into a discussion of Keith Olbermann’s misogyny, except to say that yes I’ve noticed it, and no I don’t think his sharp political commentary should give him a free pass on that sort of thing, but does it really make me a bad feminist if I can still appreciate that sharp political commentary?) Following Countdown was a one-hour special focusing on the saga. I imagine I could have found something similar on CNN and FoxNews had I been inclined to do anything more than turn off the television. What is wrong with us as a country that we’re so enthralled by the drama in celebrities’ lives? I appreciate that there’s an element of schadenfreude, of taking pleasure in the idea that celebrities are just as fallible as the rest of us, but honestly, THERE IS MORE IMPORTANT NEWS OUT THERE. However, the news that I deem more important is, quite simply, not the news that drives ratings. So it goes.