Evading Accountability

The dangerous consequence of the media’s force-fed redemption arc of Hollywood’s most notorious mean girl

Paris Hilton in 2018 via Vanity Fair

The Teflon Don Diva of Cancel Culture

Paris Hilton walked the red carpet for the Tribeca Film Festival, as her well-received documentary, This is Paris, premiered on its closing night. She flashed her huge engagement ring and took full advantage of utilizing the #FreeBritney movement as a publicity ploy for her documentary.

The public’s discourse on her extremely racist and homophobic past — and her most recent act of racial microaggression in 2012 while at Coachella — were fleeting moments. In the era where past social media transgressions have the ability to destroy one’s career — ahem Chrissy Teigan — why does Paris Hilton get a pass? Is it because early 2000s nostalgia is en vogue and Generation Z loves a good pop culture relic?

There’s no denying that Hilton went through unimaginable trauma while she was at Provo Canyon School and being a victim of revenge porn. This is why the general public welcomes the revisionism of Paris Hilton. She took the time to clear up the false narrative of a well-circulated image of her wearing a tank top that reads, “Stop Being Poor”, but has yet to answer or atone for her vitriolic behavior towards her Hollywood peers, documented racism, and homophobia.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie doing promo for The Simple Life 3 via Grazia

Friendship to Trainwreck Pipeline

Paris Hilton was on top of the pecking order in young Hollywood. She befriended starlets and it-girls of the early 2000s. She also had infamous feuds with many of them. Nicole Richie became a household name being Hilton’s sidekick. They were “BFF goals”. The public was stunned to find out they were no longer friends, and Richie was rumored to be replaced by Kimberly Stewart on The Simple Life.

The two starlets had conflicting versions of what led to a fallout. Nicole Richie went on to publish the quasi-biographical novel The Truth About Diamonds, and readers noticed the glaring similarity between the fictional character Simone Westlake and Paris Hilton.

Hilton and Richie made up in time for the final season of The Simple Life — where Paris Hilton shockingly did blackface. Both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie were convicted of a DUI and did short stints at a Los Angeles county jail.

We begin to see a pattern of how many of Hilton’s former friends and associates head towards a downward trajectory while being affiliated with her. This is also the beginning of an interesting narrative Paris Hilton begins to cultivate: “I was betrayed…everyone is jealous of me…I’m the victim here.”

Years later, while on Watch What Happens Live, Richie gave a vague and ambiguous answer to a caller’s question about the state of their friendship in the present day. The caller did also ask about Lindsay Lohan, and this leads to the next examination of failed Paris-connection leading to a career downfall.

Generation Z has a fascination with the infamous photograph of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan in a car together — you know, the one where Paris Hilton reveals the “truth” about that night every couple of years, and the public eats it up as new information?

Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan shops at Kitson (2004) via Us Weekly

Their friendship can be traced back to late 2003/2004. Lindsay Lohan was on top of her game with the success of Freaky Friday and Mean Girls. The friendship was rocky and on again-off again, with a brief reconciliation in August 2011. After a highly publicized altercation with Hilton’s younger brother, Barron Hilton, the feud was back on. Since then, Lohan’s former BFF seizes every opportunity to humiliate her during interviews and leave shady comments about her on Instagram. Even promoting This is Paris, Hilton saw an opportunity to bad-mouth Lohan.

One can’t help to notice that Lindsay Lohan was already in a vulnerable condition dealing with family troubles when she befriended Paris Hilton. It’s tragic to see an actress who was once pegged to be the next big star have such a career decline. Also, Lohan was much younger than Hilton, and this wouldn’t be the first time she would be seen with a teenage starlet as her “wingman”. Hayden Panettiere was photographed alongside Paris Hilton while shopping or at a nightclub. She found herself in turmoil after they parted ways.

Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, with Diddy during the 2007 VMAs weekend via Today

Moving along to the final passenger in the infamous photograph that was previously mentioned — Britney Spears. These days, Paris Hilton sings her praises, alleged having a “dinner” with her amongst mutual friends, and claimed that they now text each other. Just as many are consuming this media-pushed redemption arc of Paris Hilton, there’s a revisionist narrative that can be perceived when examining their brief friendship. A friendship that occurred before Britney Spears’ very public mental breakdown. It’s also rumored that Paris Hilton had not-so-nice things to say about Britney Spears as the world turned her unraveling mental state into a public spectacle.

The two did reunite during the 2007 VMA’s weekend in Las Vegas. This was supposed to be Spears’ comeback, but we all know how that, unfortunately, turned out. She was out partying with Hilton during the weekend. Perhaps, Hilton and Spears rekindled their short-lived friendship, and we’re unaware of it. Britney Spears bravely attended a hearing with a judge to plead her case to end her 13-year conservatorship. She testified that she was forced to take lithium, had an IUD inserted against her will, and is heavily monitored. It’s hard to envision a friendship being rekindled when this is happening.

Paris Hilton and Stavros Niarchos III after their relationship went public in 2005 via Zimbo

The public feud between Paris Hilton and Mary-Kate Olsen is rarely discussed. It’s reported that Olsen’s then-boyfriend, Stavros Niarchos III, cheated on her with Hilton. This led her to become withdrawn, anxious, and to drop out of NYU. Mary-Kate Olsen was blindsided because she considered Paris Hilton, a friend. Olsen dealt with self-esteem issues and was in recovery from an eating disorder. Paris Hilton was filmed calling Olsen “a jealous, ugly, anorexic, idiot” and took every chance to privately bash her.

Mary-Kate Olsen moved on, and in 2008, she was oddly involved with the death of Heath Ledger. Even though she wasn’t present when he consumed the drugs he overdosed on, she didn’t initially cooperate with authorities. She was eventually cleared of wrongdoing, and his father still grapples with not knowing the full details of that day.

Mary-Kate Olsen married a much older French banker, Pierre Olivier Sarkozy. They divorced this year. She and her sister, Ashely Olsen, run a high-fashion line, The Row.

Dethroning Hollywood’s Queen Bee

Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian (2006) via Business Insider

After Kim Kardashian revealed her desperation for fame to the point where she showed up to known paparazzi hotspots, I automatically envisioned a Fern Mayo-esque transformation when her former boss, Paris Hilton, anointed her as her new sidekick. Hilton had no clue her dark-haired employee would use the blueprint that made her famous. Not only that, she executed it better and surpassed her in every way possible.

It’s said the catalyst of their falling out was when Hilton asked about the existence of Kardashian’s sex tape — which she denied. After it was released and Keeping Up With The Kardashians was green-lighted, Hilton was furious. She felt used. The following year, Hilton resorted to her old tricks by publicly body-shaming Kardashian on the radio. It hardly put a dent in her former friend’s meteoric rise to fame.

Paris Hilton’s fame was diminishing, and Kim Kardashian was the new it-girl who was famous for being famous. Their feud became undeniable when it was reported that Kim Kardashian publicly embarrassed her at a nightclub.

The two frenemies can rewrite history on their feud and act like they’re on good terms now, but it must be a blow to Hilton’s ego that her former employee attends the Met Gala and graces the cover of Vogue while she dressed as a “Kim Clone” when she modeled for Yeezy Season 6. Kim Kardashian is a savvy businesswoman, and she knows that early 2000s nostalgia is all the rage now. Why not call up an old “friend” to do a Skims campaign to capitalize on that era?

Speaking of which, there’s a new rumor of Paris Hilton recently throwing shade at Kim Kardashian. Kim Kardashian did tell Andy Cohen on the Keeping Up with the Kardashians reunion special that she’ll never forget where she came from when reminiscing on how far she came from being Paris Hilton’s sidekick. Ouch.

The Rebrand

Paris Hilton in Utah with lawmakers as the Senate 127 Bill was passed via Daily Herald

Apart from dabbling in NFT artwork and cryptocurrency, Paris Hilton self-appointed herself as a children’s advocate and a spokesperson for Breaking Code Silence. This cause absolutely has personal ties to her experience, as she’s a survivor of the troubled teen industry, but one can’t help to wonder if she’s taking a page from her frenemy Kim Kardashian’s book.

Hilton tweeted about an Afro-Latinx autistic youth who was killed while being restrained. It would be fair to question her sincerity due to her not addressing her documented racism and anti-Black behavior. On the latest episode of Just for Variety’s podcast, she spoke about the ceremonial bill signing of Section 127. In Utah, there will now be more oversight in residential treatment centers, and hopefully, this will protect children from being abused. Instead of keeping the focus on the children who would benefit from this legislation, she compared it to having an “Elle Woods” moment: “I totally felt like Elle Woods when I was speaking at the [Utah] senate. When I went and signed the bill with them, I literally felt like I had that Elle Woods moment.”

Paris Hilton has an upcoming reality show focusing on her wedding, which will stream on Peacock’s platform. Speaking of her wedding, her fiancé, Carter Reum, seems to be a good match for Paris Hilton. She gushes at how supportive and loyal he is. He received his undergraduate degree at Columbia University and is a successful entrepreneur. Reum is an alumnus of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity — which was disbanded in 2013 for hazing and other undisclosed incidents. The fraternity has since reclaimed its charter.

Her podcast This Is Paris served as a medium to discuss how she was treated by the media during her heyday — particularly treatment from David Letterman and comments made by Sarah Silverman when she hosted the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. This gartered publicity as this occurred when the highly publicized documentary, Framing Britney Spears, was released. Coincidence? Or a calculated public relations move?

Paris Hilton wanted to further capitalize on the early 2000s craze and her redemption arc by releasing a memoir. She turned in a manuscript to Dey Street Books. Hilton saw the success of Jessica Simpson’s memoir. Simpson revealed childhood sexual abuse and emotional manipulation in past relationships. Ironically, Hilton feuded with both Jessica and Ashlee Simpson in the past as well.

This rebrand also trickles down to her mother, Kathy Hilton, who has become a fan favorite on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Rumors circulated for years about how Kathy Hilton’s behavior and entitlement shaped her daughter’s personality traits. You know what they say, too; racism and bigotry are taught at home — just saying.

The Takeaway

Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton with Donald Trump in 2001 via Vanity Fair

Paris Hilton is now a 40-year-old woman who wants children and is engaged. She has spent over a year convincing the public that she was the victim the entire time and is misunderstood due to media misconceptions. Hilton has pushed the “two-voices” and “I’m not actually stupid” narrative for many years. It even was heavily discussed in her other documentary Paris Not France, which aired on MTV in 2009.

The passing of time has the power to make people forget. A newer generation possesses a population that isn’t even aware of what occurred. The entertainment industry has the media at its beck and call to weave any narrative that has the potential to generate revenue.

Hopefully, the retelling of events could convince readers that Paris Hilton caused harm to others. Whether it be through how she treated her so-called friends or the words that were spoken, the damage is done. She went on a media tour to talk about how she was wronged but has yet to honestly look at what she’s done.

Hilton claimed that initially, she didn’t want to talk about the abuse she endured while she was victimized by the troubled-teen industry because she was afraid it would “hurt” her brand. Not being held accountable is setting a harmful example and sending a dangerous message to society — if you’re rich, white, and dubbed the “original” influencer, it doesn’t matter what harm you inflict on others.

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𝙲𝚑𝚊𝚗𝚝𝚊𝚕

Lifelong New Yorker. Unapologetically The Bronx. Learning to be a great writer. Aspiring humanitarian. Striving to be a good person. ⭐