Paris Hilton revolutionized the social media and “influencing” world, initiating the now pertinent social realities where the consumption of media among younger generations abounds. The 21st century pop culture phenomenon of “being famous for being famous” was essentially created by her, and is extremely prevalent in this day and age of pop culture.
The documentary “The Real Story of Paris Hilton: This Is Paris” goes in depth into Hilton’s upbringing and the circumstances that turned her into an international sensation. Born into the famous and extremely wealthy hotel-founding Hilton family, Hilton was taught to be “proper, private, and perfect.” Her family was always heavily focused on appearance, and some of this pressure led to her infamous rebellious stage. Her teenage love for nightlife, clubbing, and going out to parties was well documented by paparazzi, to the pleasure of Hilton and dismay of her conservative parents. In response to this public rebellion, her parents admitted her to various programs and schools for “troubled children.” This is where the film diverges from the partying-Hilton we know and love.
Hilton was able to connect with other former students from the traumatizing programs her parents sent her to. We watch as she processes this trauma and explains how the rage that she carried with her drove her to becoming incredibly successful. The film documents Hilton turning 18 and becoming a persona that she was able to capitalize on.
Paparazzi were not incredibly prominent at the time, but Hilton invited them to where she was to keep people up to date on her desirable life, as this was before social media. This publicization launched her career forward and put her at the forefront of a new era of pop culture that had just begun to flourish. Influencers such as the Kardashians are products of the trends that Hilton established. Despite the criticism that Hilton has faced for her gratuitous fame, the platforms she built have allowed a large demographic of people to profit. Instagram models, beauty gurus, TikTok stars, and even comedians benefit from the industry that Hilton helped create. If it weren’t for her, they probably wouldn’t have had the same kind of fame and fortune.
Hilton laid the foundation for what is now the crumbling house of pop culture. There are many notable benefits that Hilton contributed to in this field, but we now see young people viewing the world through phones rather than through their eyes. Many rely on their favorite creators or celebrities for their own wellbeing and thus create fewer and fewer real human connections. Pop culture has turned into something more isolating and overwhelming than ever before. The constantly evolving trends, beauty standards, and social “rules” have all found their way into mainstream pop culture and contributed to what is arguably a toxic environment.
As a main contributor to 21st century pop culture, Hilton pioneered a movement that has gotten out of hand. In the documentary she stated, “Everyone says that I’m the original influencer. But sometimes I feel like I helped create a monster.” With the weight of the current social media age on her shoulders and the trauma she has endured, Hilton has become someone that her fans don’t know very well. The facades put on by celebrities may be influencing pop culture, but they are not sustainable for media consumers nor the celebrity in question. We owe credit to Hilton for many aspects of modern day pop culture, and while it may not all be positive, it has been important for the development of the entertainment industry.