Paris Hilton must be stopped!
B Y SA M A N T H A G R I C E
The group considered waiting for National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers to make its red carpet premiere. And they also thought about christening their new organization with a US$18-million fundraiser to stop Steve Martin from selling himself out in stupid, substandard movies. But when H.O.P.E (Horrified Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment) learned Paris Hilton would be signing copies of her new “book,” Confessions of a Heiress, at Book Soup in West Hollywood, they knew this was just the kind of offensive cultural event they had been waiting for. “It was perfect,’” recalls Chris Jackson, the group’s founder. “Of course, it presents a dilemma because how will we ever find something to match this again?” he says, explaining that for a good portion of his life he’s felt dissatisfied with the quality of pop culture in his country. Jackson rallied the troops to the Sunset Strip (the heart of bad culture) where they set up camp across the street from the book signing. Their mission: better entertainment for Americans. “We’re almost like a consumer advocacy group, service,” says Jackson.
More than a hundred people showed up and used Hilton as the scapegoat through which to express their exasperation with bad sitcoms, mind-numbing reality television and talentless celebrities. Their signs asked questions such as “Why?” or more specifically, “Why are you famous?” And offered advice such as, “Read a book, Don’t write one.” Others skewered the hotel chain princess with “You Can’t Buy Brain Cells,” and “I’d rather watch a Stephen King Porn than Read a Paris Hilton Book.” They also saved a few words for the entertainment reporters there to cover the event, “Media: This is not news. Go Cover Something Important!” And they chanted — “Prose before Hos.” Cars honked, the police were supportive and the talking heads from E! and ET interviewed Jackson. He jokes he’s never felt more of a connection with the world than at the Paris protest. “I thought to myself, ‘I live in a good world! And I would have never known that by watching TV.’ ”
Lined up in Hilton’s corner, among the sad, celebrity-obsessed middle-aged men and women, were a family of devout Christians looking for an autograph. When asked how they think Hilton supports Christian ideals, they responded that when Paris signed their book, they would tell her that she was in her prayers. “They’ve done this at every celeb book signing they’ve gone to,” explains Mollie, a H.O.P.E. member.
Another thrilling triumph for the group came when they managed to deprogram a couple of teenagers who had initially crossed the street to defend their favourite celebrity against H.O.P.E.’s seemingly unfair attack. “They were smart girls,” says Jackson.
“It’s not so much that we hate Paris Hilton, just the fact she is destroying our culture,” he explains. “But she is symptomatic of a larger problem. It’s not just her.” It’s also Ashton Kutcher, J.Lo, Ben Affleck, P.Diddy and company. “It’s anyone who doesn’t have any real talent or ability who is being mass-marketed and shoved down our throats,” he says. “With Ashton it’s as simple as he is not a talented person. He is not a good actor. I know the producers of Punk’d and they make it look like he writes the show but he doesn’t. And he makes it seem as though the show is his entire brainchild, but if you sat down with him for 10 minutes you’d see that anything funny is not his.”
With Hilton, what rankles the group — and almost everyone who is aware of her presence on the planet — is she is famous because she is rich. She has enough money to buy fame. “And on her show she insults middle America and she hasn’t done anything to warrant that,” says Jackson. “And then we’re told to worship her because she has so much money.”On the bright side, he says, fewer people than you think watch these shows. We are led to believe they are popular and newsworthy because they are marketed so heavily. “And think of your life on a normal day, how many people do you come across that would actually go to a Paris Hilton book signing?”
If you’re wondering how H.O.P.E. feels about Britney Spears, well, of course, they think she’s awful. But in her case they don’t think they will have to intervene as Spears is doing a fine job of falling out of public favour all by herself. “They are all going to fall off eventually, we are just trying to accelerate the process,” says Jackson. “But even more than that, try to put a stop to the next one.”