Contemplating the Meaning of Paris

By now you will have seen the “Paris Hilton Responds to John McCain” comic video, of course. Well, it turns out that Paris is now on a trip to Denmark – which prompts one of the mainstream Danish papers, Berlingske Tidende, to issue a meditation not so much on her new video per se, but on the Paris Hilton phenomenon generally (Paris Hilton Has Landed).

Make no mistake: Berlingske welcomes Ms. Hilton to Denmark, where she is to “throw luster over diverse engagements.” The editorial piece (no by-line) simply expresses amazement about this “young, pretty, well-to-do woman just like thousands of other young, beautiful, well-to-do women” who is known because she is known, about whom everybody talks – because everybody talks about her. Truly Andy Warhol’s bromide about everyone getting his/her 15 minutes of fame has come true. And yes, Berlingske Tidende will be covering Paris’ visit to Denmark, as part of its duty to present current information to its readers – but really because the journalists there are just as curious about her as everyone else.

Besides, maybe she deserves more credit than she gets; maybe she is more calculating in all this than the public perceives. The article recalls how once she managed to earn a million dollars to go to Austria, wave to people, and declaim “I love Austria!” Some one finally asked her: Why do you love Austria? “Because they paid me a million dollars to wave to people.” Could it be that Paris Hilton is, at bottom, simply the master executor of a business concept centered around her as the product?

Beyond this, there is also significant meaning in the fact that it’s Austria, and it’s Denmark, that are falling for her charms and not just her original American media market. “Countryside gossip has become global gossip,” the piece states, “and the media currents have become a common [international] space.” Don’t be so quick to belittle her, the paper concludes: after all, in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the well-known fable from Denmark’s favorite-son Hans Christian Andersen, he leaves it ambiguous whether the emperor or the crowds beholding him are, in the end, the bigger fools.

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