Who the hell is this Paris Hilton girl I
keep hearing about? Is she some singer? The new Britney maybe? No?
Is she an actress then? Not an actress either? Well, then what
exactly does she do? Oh, she doesn’t actually do anything?
Unless we count going to parties and nightclubs and making amateur
porn tapes. Well, I don’t think those should count for
anything.

Janna Hutz

So how did she become so famous? Just because she has rich
parents and stands to inherit $30 million? There are lots of kids
with rich parents who stand to inherit millions of dollars, so why
aren’t they as famous as Paris Hilton? Like the Bush twins,
for example. They’re about the same age as Paris, and as far
as rich, famous and powerful parents go, you can’t do much
better than the leader of the free world. Why aren’t they
media darlings? Why don’t they get to be on magazine covers?
Oh, that’s right; they’re ugly.

That’s the other key to Paris Hilton’s rise to the
top: she’s not ugly. Fortunately for her, she has that
perfect mixture of filthy rich parents and good looks that’s
all the rage these days. Sucks to be the Bush twins.

I’m not saying Paris is completely untalented. She’s
very good at posing on the red carpet, and she had that one line in
“Zoolander,” which she didn’t screw up (at least
in the take that made it into the final cut).

But she still hasn’t really done anything. When people ask
her what she does for a living, what could she possibly say? My
guess is, “Fuck off.” It’s her way of avoiding
the truth that she doesn’t do anything. It’s her only
option, really. I don’t think it’s generally acceptable
to list your occupation as “socialite” on business
cards and resumes, either — at least not yet.

But Paris Hilton isn’t the only one to have achieved
celebrity status for not actually doing anything of substance.
Reality TV shows have created an ever-growing mass of undeserving
celebrities. Just about everyone has been on at least one reality
TV show (I’ve been on six myself, and there’s a seventh
in production).

But while Paris Hilton and your average reality TV celebrity are
both famous for doing nothing, the key difference between them is
that the reality TV celebrity does something outside of the show.
While they never become famous for being accountants or sales reps,
they still are accountants and sales reps. Everyone knows the
infamous Puck for being a colossal prick to his housemates on
“The Real World,” but he was also a bike messenger.
Paris Hilton can’t even claim something as lowly as that.

And now in a most amusing turn of events, Paris Hilton is
becoming a reality TV star herself. She and longtime friend Nicole
Richie (daughter of singer Lionel Richie) are the stars of
“The Simple Life,” which debuted on FOX Tuesday night.
The show has Hilton and Richie completely out of their element and
shows the ultimate clash of cultures: two rich, cosmopolitan
blondes working on an Arkansas farm. Hilarity ensues.

But the undeserving celebrity phenomenon is nothing new, really.
Of course, there have always been people unworthy of their status.
The British have been doing it for ages with their royal family,
practically worshiping them for doing absolutely nothing.

It’s something relatively new to the United States,
however, and I like to think that we Americans haven’t gotten
to such a sad point as the British yet. Our undeserving celebrities
are typically relegated to punch-line duty, and we hold people like
Paris Hilton in contempt just for being themselves.

Like Andy Warhol said, “In the future, everyone will be
famous for 15 minutes.” Warhol has been proven right time and
again. Celebrities come and go all the time. We love them one day,
then forget about them the next. It’s what keeps VH1 in
business.

But perhaps it’s time to update his original statement to
reflect our current state of affairs. Maybe it should go something
like “In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes
without doing a goddamn thing.”

— Joel is completely deserving of his celebrity status.
He can be reached with autograph requests at
“mailto:j.ho@umich.edu”>j.ho@umich.edu.

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