Gossip media industry

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

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. Yes, welcome to the critique long read all about Perez Hilton.

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

 

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, and even a key case for any media studies student.

According to the LA Times, his blog gets over 7 million hits a day – which is like, imagine 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 Hiltonson it’s way maybe it’s time to ask: well, what is the point of Perez Hilton?

perez at mtv

Perez Hilton dot com is frequently rubbished as regurgitation of the desperate individualistic culture that emanates from Hollywood’s hills, and by blogging, he too is a victim. The difference being… he never actually victimises himself. Lavandeira’s persona is 100% unafraid of deconstructing 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 playful sting of irony and childish 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.

chris-crocker

The thing is – it’s never the meta-narrative that Perez offers which creates these sorts of issues: it’s the volatility of the showbiz industry itself.

That’s what Perez simultaneously attacks, feeds, and to a large extent: exposes it for what it really is, whether the audience realises this or not.

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 uses the rules of the paparazzi as rules of critique: 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” which is a really strange catption 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 Paris’ well known and quietly iconic 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… whe 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 what remains an unpoliced environment where there are no real journalistic ethics to stick to – at least in this game. This has its drawbacks though. Perez can quote and make up stories from unqualified sources.

But there are also advantages to embrace: 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…actually turns out to be true.

Whilst Oscar Wilde’s primary concern was wisdom and literature which satirised the aristocracy, Perez is the ironic commentator.

And, yet at times, he really is the similarly scathing raconteur as Wilde; he addresses everyone from the Z-list, to those pumped out by the traditional Hollywood star-system with an equivocally sardonic tone.

The only problem is… that the paparazzi want to sue him for using their photos and yet hilariously, it will be this arguably non-misdemeanour that will catapult Perez to success.

In a small tribute to the lovely Perez, this very blog uses stock images as they are with their ugly watermarks to reveal the beauty underneath.

It’s going to be an interesting decade. Why? Because it won’t be long until this mini media empire flips that table and ends up suing the mainstream media.

The shiny showbiz world of the future belongs to blogosphere, social media influencers like Perez – just watch this space as it changes exactly this way.

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