Long before the Kardashians became America's sad new version of the Kennedys, came the woman who started it all: the one and only Paris Hilton. I personally credit Paris for all of the hilariously terrible things about reality TV in the early 2000's, and boy does she deserve it. But it's not her fake baby voice or shiny blonde weave that inspired me to write this. It's the fact that she has successfully exploited the human desire to feel superior to people who were "born lucky."
By putting her pride aside, she managed to create one of the most successful personal brands of all time. All because people want to believe she's stupid.
Spoiler: we're the stupid ones.
Paris grew up in an environment that most of us can only dream about. Her great-grandfather started the Hilton Hotel chain and turned it into one of the most successful hotel chains in the world. As a teenager she began sneaking into clubs and modeling for Donald Trump's modeling agency, as well as making a few appearances in movies. By the time she was old enough to drink, she was a full blown socialite and the IT girl of the NYC club scene.
Paris never needed to try to go out and make a living, so why did she?
The Simple Life began in 2003 (the same year the infamous "One Night in Paris" sex tape was released) and the entire concept of the show was to make Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie look stupid, because it was funny and they're rich. At this point reality TV was just really getting its footing, so people believed that there was actually some reality in these situations. The truth was that Hilton and Richie were playing characters and sleeping in hotels at night, while the families they used in their skits continued life as usual.
This show marks the moment when I fell in love with Paris' business savvy and ability to manipulate the American public. She let us think that we were the ones getting the last laugh, while she laughed her way to the bank and then some. After The Simple Life stopped airing in 2007 Paris went on to sign huge endorsement deals, starred in (terrible) feature films, started her own record label, and "wrote" a book that had a comfortable stay on The New York Times bestseller list.
These days Paris spends her time DJing, vacationing, and being an international sensation. Although she's lost some attention from American audiences, Paris is bigger than ever in countries such as Japan and Brazil. She also recently got paid $300,000 dollars to make a guest appearance on a Danish television show, proving that our torrid love affair with Paris will never truly end. She also has an album in the works under Cash Money Records, which also boasts names such as Drake and Nicki Minaj on its roster.
If history is any indication, Paris is not going anywhere. I, for one, am incredibly happy that I have had the chance to watch this brilliant woman market herself into the mega star she is today. Most people in her position have taken the path of self destruction, but Paris put her inherited business insight to good work and created an empire in her own right. With a $100 million net worth, Paris will always be one of the richest and most successful marketers of our time.