Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm Tired of Being the Paris Hilton of My Own Blog

Who is Paris Hilton? I remember asking myself this question when, ignorant of the notoriety she had achieved via such media sources as Page Six, she started showing up staggering in and out of parking lots on Celebrities Uncensored or some such show on E!. Since then, like the rest of the world, I have come to discover that she is, of course, an heiress of the Hilton Hotel fortune (the great-granddaughter of Hilton founder Conrad), a notorious party girl and unauthorized sex-tape star, and a some-time actress/TV personality/pitchperson/pop star/model. Just an ordinary 21st century girl, really.

Interestingly, she has become a descriptive icon as well. By doing a Google search of the words "the Paris Hilton of" I have discovered that calling someone a "Paris Hilton" is far from employing a one-dimensional epithet. Indeed, the art of using Paris Hilton as a belittling tag has developed into a pattern of subtle nuances and protocols that even the Bard himself could not help but admire. Some notable examples:
  • Earlier this week, Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti was calling CNN's Anderson Cooper "the Paris Hilton of television news" after he criticized Fox for airing unsubstantiated gossip about Barack Obama's early education, saying that Cooper's lecturing is "yet another cry for attention."
  • Boomer Esiason called Bears quarterback Rex Grossman "the Paris Hilton of quarterbacks" on CBS's NFL Today -- to which Chicago sportswriter Elliott Harris replied, "No way the Bears QB has been sacked that much."
  • The blog All Hat and No Cattle labels our current President as "the Paris Hilton of U.S. Presidents."
  • Armageddon Cocktail Hour says that Rudy Giuliani, while weighing his own presidential prospects, may not have the stomach for "trying to preserve some personal dignity within a process that seems designed to make him look like a man of undisciplined appetites, like the Paris Hilton of Presidential Politics."
  • Writer John Doyle of the Globe & Mail calls footie star David Beckham "the Paris Hilton of the Sports World" because "he's rich, blonde, beautiful, none too bright, and shrewd about the matter of staying famous."
  • wonders, "How did the pomegranate suddenly become the Paris Hilton of the food world?" And so do I.
  • "It"-physicist Caolionn O'Connell, flushed from the publicity she received after appearing on NOVA, worried in the pages of her Quantum Diaries that she was becoming "the Paris Hilton of physics -- totally over-exposed, but thankfully, without the sex-tape with slimy ex-boyfriend." What does it mean, dear Paris, when your life is becoming a cautionary tale to which even a physicist pays heed?
  • Defective Yeti notes that "Duct tape is like the Paris Hilton of hardware: it has this huge reputation, despite having never done anything useful."
  • Hampton Roads sportswriter Bob Molinaro called the 2006 Washington Redskins "the Paris Hilton of hype." Even without a detailed analysis of the merits of such a comment, one has to admit that it seems like a redundancy at the very least -- or literary overkill, at worst.
  • Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is "the Paris Hilton of the federal judiciary," because he won a poll sponsored by the blog Underneath Their Robes. A former 1960s-era Dating Game contestant, Kozinski previously was elected "Number 1 Male Superhottie" of the federal judiciary in the same blog.
  • In a similar vein, I suppose, legal tabloid Above the Law refers to Georgetown Law Professor Neal Katyal as "the Paris Hilton of the Legal Elite" for the swooning publicity over his victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Hamsdal v. Rumsfeld.
  • Iranian film actress Zahra Amir Ebrahimi is "Iran's Paris Hilton" after appearing in a sex video that ended up on the Internet.
  • According to C/NET News reader "DarianKnight," the virtual reality social space Second Life is "the Paris Hilton of 3D" because "there is a lot of money involved, the media love it for no particular reason, and in the end it's famous for simply being famous."
  • "Like the Paris Hilton of corporate finance, Sarbanes-Oxley is always, it seems, in the news," according to
  • Energy writer Byron W. King suggests that Cambridge Energy Research Associates may very well be "the Paris Hilton of the energy consulting gig" -- as if we could all be so lucky.
  • Memphis Daily News columnist Lindsay Jones calls her cat Dandelion the Paris Hilton of her household because she is "pampered, indulged and reckless in her self-assurance."
  • Pia Zadora was apparently "the Paris Hilton of the 80s," Marie Antoinette was "the Paris Hilton of the late eighteenth century," and, gynecologically speaking, Joan Crawford was "the Paris Hilton of the 30s ... only with talent and movie roles."
Matt Haber helpfully provides a field guide to various Paris Hiltons around the world, crowning new Paris Hiltons in Russia (reality TV host Ksenia Sobchak), India (Bollywood "it"-girl Negar Khan), England (the ubiquitous and big-breasted Katie Price, aka Jordan), Canada (Liberal MP Belinda Stronach) and even in "red state America" (Ann Coulter, of course -- who has also been called the "Paris Hilton of Conservatism," the "Paris Hilton of postmodern politics," and "the Paris Hilton of Fox News", among other things).

The bottom line here is that calling someone "the Paris Hilton of" something-or-other has been a useful, textured way of describing some person or thing for about four years.

Time to move on, folks. If a consumer trade journal reviewer can be tempted to write that the Karcher RC 3000 is "the Paris Hilton of robot vacuums" because "it can't clean well, it wanders aimlessly, and it's pricey -- but it sure is pretty" -- well, then we have seriously run this particular cliche into the ground.

Let's entomb it within the OED, and try to find another tiresome metaphor as soon as possible. It shouldn't be difficult. Remember, there's an "it" girl starlet around every corner, just waiting for you to publicize her. We'll be accepting nominations for the new "____ is the ____ of _____" in the comment section of this post.

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Anonymous Himmelman said...

I get it. Paris Hilton is the George W. Bush of pointless celebrities.

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Elmo Plaskett said...

Ann Coulter is the Karcher RC 3000 of trashy news-talk.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Fathead said...

American Idol is the Gong Show of the 21st Century.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Pavel Titov said...

Ksenia Sobchak also dubbed Paris Hilton in a "Pledge This!" movie released today in Russia.

5:29 PM  

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