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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
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
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”
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.
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