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August 4, 2008

Paris Hilton is So 2007, But Thanks to John McCain, Here She Is Again


John McCain took an important step last week in defining his candidacy. He did it by approving an ad splicing in images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, and thereby suggesting that he is indeed that old guy who occasionally rouses himself from napping long enough to yell at the kids on the lawn.


No American adult tuned into the political process hasn’t seen the ad – the one splicing in images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears next to Obama. The idea is to frame Obama as a substance-less celebrity not prepared for the Oval Office.


A lot of people are genuinely upset at the suggestion. It’s wrong to impugn Obama in such an undignified way. (Hilton’s parents, who have given money to McCain’s campaign, might think differently). And although the suggestion is quite a bit off base and horrendously unfair (comparing anyone to Paris Hilton is a low blow), there are lots of other victims here – not just Obama, who you can argue was asking for it by running for president.


Forget the substance of the charge. It’s entirely beside the point, which is that the ad is hilariously dated, kind of like reciting lines from a commercial from the 2005 Super Bowl. Attacking someone with Paris Hilton? That’s sooooooo 2007.


It’s been a year since anyone talked about Paris Hilton, and when we last heard her name it was usually associated with the word “oversaturated.” While it’s true that most everyone remembers her for making very poor choices, and basically everyone agrees that her celebrity wasn’t actually based on possessing unique, marketable talents – or really any useful talent – a year is the same as a century when it comes to pop culture. McCain’s campaign may as well have used photos of Mae West and Fatty Arbuckle.


You need not immerse yourself in pop culture to know that it flows like, and has the current of, a rain-engorged river. Depending on the latest personal disgrace, people cycle in and out fairly quickly. The phrase, “That’s so 2007” applies here.


McCain’s ad might be relevant next year at this time, depending on the latest stunt either Hilton or Spears pulls to try to reclaim the spotlight. Today, if you wish to use Paris Hilton as the tip of your spear, it’s something you should take up with 2007, which was a whole year ago. All the furor over McCain’s ad did was first remind people that we do not yet live in a Paris Hilton-free world.


This is perhaps the most outrageous part of the controversy. You can forget the unseemly suggestion about Barack Obama. The real victim here is all of us.


The world was lulled into believing itself safe from ever again seeing Paris Hilton get so much free publicity. It hadn’t counted on the presidential campaign – and it was ultimately wrong. Despite having no discernable talents, today we again talk about her, courtesy of John McCain.


This time, she didn’t even need to get herself arrested, and we’re all the poorer as a result.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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