Any Paris Hilton fans out there? To anyone who is currently in need of another Netflix doco to indulge in (because you’ve watched Fyre Festival Doco 5 times already, we get it) then you really must stop what you’re doing and watch the American Meme. You’re in for an outrageous, albeit insightful documentary, detailing the evolution of internet culture and the illusive rise of the influencer. And there’s just one heiress that holds the throne as the #TheOriginalInfluencer.
The power of Paris Hilton and her enduring effect and influence knows no limits. Entering this planet with more privilege than 40 middle aged white men could carry, she was born the great granddaughter of the famous entrepreneur and business mogul Conrad Hilton, who is the founder of lucrative franchise of luxury hotels, now a billionaire empire. So, with that inheritance in mind, what we are about to say is NOT that she is self made. Don’t get it twisted, OK?
Paris and her “that’s hot” ethos to life has been our guiding star for what’s cool, what’s hot and basically, what’s trendy. Before the current culture of memes and before the realisation of reality TV, even before the creation of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” and Instagram existed; it was Paris reminding us that Juicy Couture tracksuits and chihuahuas’ were in (Rest in Peace, Tinkerbell). Don’t even get me started on the flip phone phenomena. She was what we then called an “it girl” and a “socialite”, manifesting her own image and marketing herself before we could even realise what the phrase #PersonalBrand actually meant.
Some of you might remember the iconic reality TV show that Paris and real life BFF Nicole Richie starred in back at the beginning of this millennium. It was a brilliant concept; drop two privileged rich girls off at the farm and ask them to pitch a hand, take away their cash and cue the hilarious commentary, as they were drawn out of their comfort zones (still dressed head to toe in pink velour).
Now the story gets good, do you think this irony went over her head? It should come as no surprise that her appearance on the show was in fact entirely curated to benefit her career, which she shared with Access Hollywood. “I think if I was my serious self on the show it wouldn’t have been such a huge success. I don’t mind because I feel like I really parlayed it into a huge business and it was a lot of fun.”
In fact, this was just another decision that saw her platform catapulted into a new category of opportunity and fame. Lest we forget her sex tape scandal, poignantly titled “One Night In Paris”, the baby voiced celeb literally took control of her narrative, gave the public something new to talk about – her work – before she then (dare we say it,) invented Kim Kardashian, who started out as Hilton’s personal stylist.
A 2017 Marie Claire profile reported that she has “18 product lines, including clothing and accessories for kids and pets, sold in at least 63 countries”. Adding on top that, her New York Times Best Selling book “Confessions of a Heiress”, her foray into the film and television industry and that epic, one hit wonder track “Stars are Blind” which reached number six on the Billboard Charts in 2006. Not to mention her thriving DJ career… Among other entrepreneurial advenues.
It is safe to say that her “famous for being famous” trademark is only scratching the surface – that her image focussed lifestyle downright runs deeper – her empire was no accident. In fact Paris confidently states she was the first of her generation to “become famous for being herself.” Now, while we may not have the same aspiration for fame that Paris has; we must bow down to this archetype she has created for all influencers to follow and this booming industry. The latter of which she does not even have to work in now, seeing as she was the one who invented it. Touche, Paris! Now to everyone reading this, just remember…