Style & Then Some

With great circulation comes great responsibility: How the Bling Ring got us thinking

If you were waiting to see Sophia Coppola’s latest work of cinematic art in the comfort of your own home, now’s your chance as The Bling Ring was released on DVD today.  Following a screening celebrating the release last week, Style & Then Some were lucky enough to be treated to a talk with Heat magazine Editor-in-Chief Lucie Cave and reviewer for Holy Moly Joe Goulcher discussing the fame game (pitfalls and all).

The Bling Ring Sophia coppola The Bling Ring Paris Hilton The Bling ring age of celebrity The Bling Ring Alexis Neiers

If you haven’t heard of The Bling Ring then let me fill you in.  The movie is based on real-life events that took place circa 2008.  The premise?  A group of celebrity obsessed kids break in to the homes of stars and rob in the region of $3 million worth of luxury goods.  Apparently the likes of Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Megan Fox and Audrina Patridge do not lock their doors or have pretty much any form of security.  These kids end up taking trips to Paris Hilton’s recreationally – her closet is so excessive that she never seems to notice things that go missing.

I won’t give the ending away, but what Coppola cleverly maintains throughout the film is the audience’s apathy towards not only the thieves but also their victims.  The film may appear trivial and frivolous due to the endless parade of designer duds, drugs and dance floors, but for me this highlights the ludicrous age we now live in.

The fact that Alexis Neiers (the ringleader of the real life Bling Ring) has been dubbed as a ‘reality TV darling’ these days, and has her own website is mind-boggling.  It appears you can literally do anything even break the law, but then shed the orange jump suit and come out the other end with an agent and a best-selling autobiography.  They don’t call it La La land for nothing darling.

The Bling Ring Sophia coppola The Bling Ring Paris Hilton The Bling ring age of celebrity The Bling Ring Alexis Neiers

So what is the criteria to be a celebrity these days? In an age where social media can propel a person to international stardom in 140 characters, or just as quickly kill a career, it feels our current level of celebrity addiction is evolving in to a pandemic.

Take, for instance, the Kardashians flogging their clothing at Westfield shopping centre earlier this year.  People queued for days.  DAYS.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a little Kardashian fix every now and then too, but I also feel I then have to balance it out by watching an episode of QI straight after.  The Kardashians are pure escapism, but should they be lauded with attention previously reserved for those with exceptional talent?

As I write this, I have to point out I understand people have different tastes and therefore one person’s Kim Kardashian may be another’s Michelle Obama, but surely the fame is supposed to be reserved for those who have exceptional talent?  Kanye has been quoted as stating Kim works extremely hard, but I don’t believe long hours of self-promotion are something to be admired.

Heat magazine celebrity gossip celebrity obsession The Bling Ring

As much as I found Lucie Cave’s opinions extremely interesting, and she gave us a fantastic insight in to the world of celebrity, I must question if Heat and other publications aren’t part of the problem? For instance, we discussed how far is too far with the likes of Miley Cyrus and Rihanna seemingly trying to out do each other in the ‘raunch’ stakes.

But is this shameless self-promotion through provocation now beginning to implode on itself?  With the likes of Malala Yousafzai emerging as a new role model not only for younger generations but all generations, could Malala finally be the tipping point we need to finally turn our back on these desperate stars and focus on someone who is truly worthy of our respect and support?  If Malala had the same coverage Miley gets for stripping, couldn’t we all stand up a little taller and help each other as humans, fighting for the education of women rather than gossiping over something so trivial as whether or not Miley Cyrus is going to pull her designer wedgie out anytime soon?

I understand it isn’t entirely the fault of Heat (and I am using them as an example for similar celebrity-led magazines here) as their readership may not be aware of the likes of Malala. But with great power (or circulation) comes great responsibility, and surely even one page of current affairs or coverage on these types of topics could spark a turning point?  Who is to say the general public (and the Heat readership in particular) would not support Malala more if this particular demographic were educated about such people?

After all, it is us that make these people famous through the power of our purchase and our mouse-clicks. Many talented famous people (those I personally believe to be worthy of the word ‘celebrity’) don’t need our constant approval and to shamelessly promote, or get naked, or rob houses, as they can let their work or art do the talking.  So maybe we need to have a little word with ourselves, and next time we fawn over a celebrity, make sure it is for the right reasons.

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About Helen Coakley

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