Carlisle doesn’t understand Paris Hilton. Help him out
Do you want to be like Paris Hilton, secretly, desperately, more than anything in the whole world?
Is she your role model? If so, I want to hear from you, and I want you to answer one question for me.
Later this month, NBC will launch a reality show entitled I Want To Be A Hilton.
Reality shows, if you don’t follow broadcast television, number half of all television shows these days.
Eight of the top-10 rated television shows are reality shows, ranging from ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” to CBS’s “Survivor” to NBC’s “The Apprentice.”
Reality shows are cheaper to produce, since they don’t require scriptwriters or actors, and therefore are much more profitable.
Surprisingly, reality shows also draw the same number of viewers not only when first broadcast, but in syndication as well; viewers turn out in similar numbers to watch reruns of “Fear Factor” on UPN as to watch “The West Wing,” an expensive-to-produce scripted show with a cast of award-winning actors.
Fear Factor also attracts more of the 18- 35-year-old demographic than “The West Wing,” which does well with older, but less desirable (from an advertisers’ perspective) viewers.
NBC’s latest reality show puts a group of contestants in the hands of Hilton family matron June Hilton, who will decide which of them has the skills to fill the shoes of the most famous member of her family.
You might think the show’s designed to find someone who has the skills to emulate the success of Conrad Hilton, a penniless immigrant who founded and built one of the largest and most innovative hotel chains in the world, but you’d be wrong.
This show will find the candidate, male or female, to fill the spiked heels and strapless dresses of Paris Hilton, her daughter.
Paris Hilton is a young, blond party girl who for years traded on her name to get into all the right parties and be seen with all the right people.
She’s not the first woman to use her looks and her name to get attention, but she’s certainly the first that all the world knew was a skank and dumb as a post.
Two years ago, she appeared on a Fox television reality show designed to portray her as a fish-out-of-water living with a rural Arkansas family.
Depending on who was watching the show, the laughs either centered on the Arkies as hicks, or on Paris Hilton as a ditz.
The show was so successful that it spawned a sequel, and helped make Paris Hilton somewhat of a household name.
She’s “authored” books, along with a book written in a similar fashion by her dog on the trials and tribulations of being an important blonde socialite.
She’s also appeared in XXX videos, and successfully avoided arrest on a number of occasions on charges ranging from drunk and disorderly to possession.
And despite it all, she’s popular enough, and considered enough of a role model for a television network to build a show around the desirability of being just like her.
Certainly, Paris Hilton had her predecessors and her own role models, others with looks but equally as dumb, or as sexually active.
But in the case of her predecessors, like Marilyn Monroe, her admirers knew nothing about her but what they saw.
There was a mystery and an allure around Marilyn; there’s no mystery surrounding Paris Hilton ” everything you need but might not want to know is on television or available at Blockbuster.
So why is she successful, desirable, and a role model? The Hiltons, both Paris and her mother, are doing all this for one reason, which is the money.
While Conrad was a genius, his heirs have done less well financially.
While his daughter and granddaughter may not be financial geniuses, they have the marketing skills to prompt millions of Americans to watch three television shows, buy their porn, and even buy a book authored by a dog.
Those are the people that I want to meet, not Paris Hilton, but the people who bought the dog book, bought the videos, who think Paris Hilton is the sort of person that they want to emulate.
Those are the people that I want to hear from, with an answer to the simple question: Why?
I’m so hopelessly out of the mainstream that I still watch “The West Wing” on UPN and on the rare Wednesdays when its on NBC, that I need help understanding the Paris Hilton phenomenon.
Shoot me an e-mail and help me out. What on earth am I missing?
Marc Carlisle writesa Thursday column. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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