The biggest revelation contained in last night's airing of Paris, Not France on MTV? Paris Hilton's chihuahua Tinkerbell never wears the same outfit twice in public. Otherwise, it was 62-minutes of hand-held vanity with an alternating aspect ratio, as if to signal that what we were watching was constantly distorted (and since this was done with Paris' obvious permission, you bet your night-visioned ass it was distorted). Shot in 2006, it was also irrelevant -- a recent challenge on Paris Hilton's My New BFF, in which her potential besties ran a prison-yard obstacle course in high heels has more to do with her present reality than this film. What a waste, what a stupid waste. But then, of course it was.
A documentary made within the past year on Paris might have been illuminating, since she's been humbled by prison and a decrease in interest (you can only be adored for nothing for so long). She's slightly more likable now that she's received as the joke she always was. The Paris in the film is a Paris that I never had interest in: no hasbeendom was in sight, little-to-no self-aware sense of humor was detectable. The Paris of 2006 maybe wasn't a blind star, but she did have a sort of celebrity glaucoma that impeded her perspective. To wit, Paris in Not France is bursting with contradictions. Among them:
- She complains about the press running her through the mud, but admits that she's addicted to reading it.
- She talks about the importance of being humble, but then refers to a gaggle of squealing Japanese admirers as "worshiping" her.
- She talks about how real she is ("I knew what I wanted to do and it didn’t involve learning much of anything, except to be myself"), but also says that people are surprised to hear her speak in her actual voice, sans the trademark baby coo.
- She's very defensive about having not been giving anything and working to pay for her house and her cars, but obviously she was given a primed-for-fame birthright. And really, I know that she is always busy, doing...stuff, but modeling and attending parties and appearing on reality TV and attaching your name to hair extensions and perfume and whatever seems like as close to a free ride as you can get. It's not like she's built an "empire" (so much for humility) off manual labor.
- Proof that her public life is built on contradiction lies in this direct quote: "I also don’t want people thinking I’m this blonde, heiress whatever airhead, but that is kind of my brand. I make a lot of money by doing that."
- And this one: “I just want to be happy and, I don’t know, find out who I am. I know who I am but I really don’t."
- And also this one: "I’m always on camera. It’s hard to really be your total self.”
She seems to be unaware of the irony of saying the last item on camera, or how futile that makes the entire exercise of the supposedly revealing Paris, Not France, or how the quote above that makes Paris Hilton an unreliable narrator for a film about Paris Hilton anyway. I understand that contradiction is an extremely human quality, and we're all existing in some sort of flux at any given time, but the Paris in Not France is only existing in that state and thus is ultimately intangible. You get the sense that the doc is supposed to show her as down-to-earth, which is a big problem for someone who can't or won't be pinned down. Adria Petty's film is littered with odd camera angles, random flashes from color to light, jumpy transitions and (as mentioned above), a shifting aspect ratio. It's a whole bunch of nonsense to veil a complete lack of substance. It's a fitting portrait, but that doesn't make it worth looking at.