Vanity Fair has recently run several articles on the state of America’s youth and the decline in social activism. Digging through some of my back issues of VF, I found a Fall 2005 issue where they featured Paris Hilton on their front cover. The article accompanying Hilton’s spread in VF, speaks very highly of her, praising her for qualities like her compassion, new-found domesticity, and above all, her intelligence. Defenders of Paris Hilton proclaim that she is not merely famous for being famous, “she has a fragrance, too.”
No. I’m sorry, succeeding in a capitalistic economy does not a smart girl make. Call her powerful, call her fortunate, call her destined for fame; none of these equates with “smart.” Yes, Hilton has succeeded in hocking some perfume and some books; let’s not give her the title of the modern-day Andrew Carnegie just yet.
It is indeed true that the icon of Paris Hilton is merely a product of our society. Hilton cannot be blamed for the degradation of American youth. Do you know who can? Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair and every other credible medium; the kind that would attack US Weekly on one page while touting a cover story similar to “Jen tells all!” In the spirit of journalistic genius, my favorite quote defending Hilton’s intellect in the VF article reads as such: “I was like, Wow. Here’s a girl at her perfume launch party, there’s all these people here, and she was on.”
Then I was like, Dude. And she was like, Way. And I was like, Yeah. Give me a break.
Vanity Fair even included a quotation from noted postmodern feminist author Namoi Wolf, to add some "legitimacy" to their claims. "She's like, as semiotics would say, an empty signifier, so you can project absolutely anything onto her, which is the perfect situation for branding." Oh, shut the hell up, Naomi. You don't even know what you are talking about. Besides your ridiculous use of a Communication Theory in an article for the popular press in an attempt to sound academic, even the most pedestrian individual (Nicky Hilton?) would disagree with you. Paris Hilton, is in no way, an empty signifier. Her signified meaning is sex and sexuality. Sex sells. That's why she's "perfect for branding," you dipshit.
Side note: In an edition of The New Yorker that came out the same month as her Vanity Fair comment, Wolf espouses her anti-porn sentiments. How can you then, turn around and commend Paris Hilton in Vanity Fair? Someone's a publicity whore...At least stick to the same story for one month before you change your mind. Some activist. I'm glad she's not championing any of my causes.
(Plus, the only thing empty about Paris Hilton is most likely her head.)
Enough about Paris though. What this boils down to is a dominant ideology being perpetuated by a mainstream medium that runs Louis Vuitton ads and claims to target a readership of above average sophistication.
Here are just a few sample stories titles from recent Vanity Fair covers:
“The Bitter Battle over the Jimmy Choo Shoe Empire” - okay, not only is this a completely ridiculous use of alliteration that sounds all too eerily like Dr. Seuss, it’s about FUCKING SHOES! Don’t pretend like we’re discussing something even slightly more relevant like the Waltons and the fate of a company that employs a large majority of lower-income workers world-wide, this is shoes! No economical impact whatsoever!
“How Elle Macpherson went from Bikini Queen to Lingerie Mogul!” - note the exclamation point, added by Vanity Fair. Is this supposed to denote surprise? Excitement? Amazement? I feel none of those things when I read that title. It’s Elle Macpherson! Write about how Rosie O'Donnell has people clamoring over her new successful line of lingerie, and then we’ll talk.
"Has Tom Cruise Lost his Marbles?" - in a word, "Yes." Let's move on.
“Can the King of Silicon Valley find Happiness on the World’s Longest Yacht?” – do I even have to go there on this one? This headline just makes me angry and gives me the urge to shout “WHY THE HELL DO I CARE?!”
“The Battle for Harry’s Bar” – what the hell is the deal with all these battles? First Jimmy Choo and now Harry’s Bar? Are they hoping that as readers skim their cover, they will come away with the impression that Vanity Fair has a reporter writing from Iraq? At least they did away with the alliteration this time. Somebody probably got fired.
Vanity Fair, before you attempt to look upon society from your ivory tower with disdain and the desire to point fingers for its’ degradation, maybe you should take a good, long look at what you are contributing to the mess.