Paris Outsmarts McCain

(Originally published on MOLI 8/7/8)

I confess: I’ve been a Paris hater. Not that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering twiggy blond heiresses, but when I’ve had to, I’ve been unimpressed. Ms. Hilton has always personified the whole celebrity for celebrity’s sake illness of our society: She’s famous for being famous, for her ability to turn Page 6 antics into careers in television and music. Not my thing.

But I have to give Paris Hilton major props for her hilarious response to John McCain’s inane attack ad on Barack Obama, in which the aging senator impugns his colleage and opponent by comparing him, in photographic flashes, to Hilton and Britney Spears. The ad’s (weak) point is that the Illinois senator is a celebrity, not a leader — and therefore just another talentless bimbo. Then the McCain ad spins off into kneejerk attacks on the Democratic candidate’s energy and tax policies. God, what an airhead!

Hilton’s response, made by the Funny or Die website, mocks McCain as “the oldest celebrity.” Hilton makes letter-perfect funny of her own bimbosity, then offers a smartly nuanced energy policy of her own, before asking if it’s okay if she, if elected, paints the White House pink. From Hilton’s swimsuit to the juxtaposition of youth culture and old politics, the video lampoons the inanity of a campaign that so easily loses its focus on the real issues.

Even before Hilton responded, the McCain ad struck me as a sexist smear. You want to denigrate someone’s intelligence? Compare them to a couple of blond bitches. The ad, called “Celeb,” misses the point of Obama’s importance: He’s a celebrity because of his intellect and accomplishments (and, okay, his good looks and towering charisma); most pundits agree that his fame indicates the possible end of the age of the vapid. The ad also disturbs me because it starts with images of crowds at the Washington monument, which seems to me to be a reference to Martin Luther King Jr. — and an oblique appeal to viewers’ racism.

Even though I’ve never liked Paris, or Britney, I’ve always taken care not to bash them because I know hatred of them is often fueled by misogyny. (Besides, at this point, self-hating Brooke Hogan is the pop tart to hate.) My favorite part of the Hilton video may be when she says she’s thinking of having Rihanna as a running mate. You go girls!

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