Soon after news broke of Paris Hilton’s impending nuptials, Americans made wild, stunned faces at the sight of a rich and obnoxious American talking about love on the daytime talk shows. That is such American humour. The latest example: every American wants her to call them and share the news that she is indeed to be married to Rob Shuter, a 31-year-old DJ, with whom she co-hosted the Bravo reality TV show Million Dollar Matchmaker, during which he tried to help match her to younger men. Some even made obscene gestures with their hands.
The internet’s reaction summed up an implicit understanding of Hilton: she is too rich and too beautiful and too whatever to be allowed to be human, so she makes up fake and manufactured reasons for the media to talk about her and needs to be exploited.
So let’s set aside this information about Paris Hilton’s marital choice for a moment and consider this entire series: Million Dollar Matchmaker, then last year’s sequel, Million Dollar Listing New York, where she somehow finds takers for her services or encourages a rising house agent to turn his “fancy school” (as shown by a judge’s eyes) into a world-class one. Since 2011, she has marketed herself as a matchmaker on television, movies and magazine covers, promising, sometimes out loud, that she has also been brought on board to help 50 or 60 clients. She has said she taught herself to be an interior designer.
According to media reports, Hilton intends to keep some of her money from this venture, and a lot of her clothes (she keeps up appearances with a team of assistants and makeup artists who customise looks for her).
Lately, news of an event held by Hilton has generated this same response: riot, outraged; cringe, solemn, incredulous. Why did she need to do this, why now? Why is she getting married? What am I going to do with my life? What’s my purpose? Why doesn’t she show me in church?
But then again, you don’t need a website (or reality TV shows) to stay relevant in a world of diminishing fame, money and credibility, which is why I might say, given Hilton’s limited means, it really is quite the humblebrag if she does want to call people up and say, you know, “Here, let me tell you how I met my fiancé …”
Rather than rely on fame to make it big, celebrities should — and do — assume responsibility for their own choices. And that, I suspect, is what Hilton is doing by trying to give off a sense of open-heartedness and heart in public, without having a pre-initiated pilot for a reality TV show to look good, as opposed to the attendant expense. She is simply giving her fans the real story, something to admire instead of lamenting.
At 34, she is not as young as she seems on screen, nor as old as she was, and no matter what she says, I can’t see the point of marrying at this point. Because she didn’t seem to be afraid of getting married in a show about marrying in a show about marrying. (This is what happens when you flatter your audiences: they cheer. Heck, She’s Got Game received a small amount of support.)
Yet I could understand why she wanted to do it. She has literally made her name, fortune and personal life out of marrying younger men on screen, behind closed doors, on purpose, so she could exploit them and use them — whether to highlight her fame or to excite her fans and leverage a paycheck.
It is a pernicious business model, actually.
What did her millions get her out of it: nothing but a celebrity PR campaign. So this not merely a millennial “hot take”, but the truest thing I can say about Paris Hilton. She just needs one thing — and it’s not on her glittering, gaudy wedding registry.
• Vinay Menon is a British journalist. He was the editor-in-chief of Women’s Health from 2013 to 2015.