The itty-bitty dogs. The bad reality TV show. The catch phrases “Likes it,” and “That’s hot.” It all makes it so easy to dismiss blond, doe-eyed heiress Paris Hilton as a spoiled ditz. Before last week, I’d only admired Hilton for her ability to take an identity most everybody despises and a resume devoid of real accomplishment and use them to become one of the world’s foremost celebrities.
But in late July, presidential candidate John McCain began running an ad that painted his opponent Barack Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world” by comparing him to personalities such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
Politically, the ads were a cheap shot – an attempt to turn one of Obama’s strengths, his ability to inspire millions and draw crowds, into a negative. But, if history has shown anything, negative ads can equal tactical brilliance: Anyone remember the effect Swift Boat commercials had on John Kerry? And, if this ad meant a drop in the polls for Obama (and it has), who cares if it pokes fun at a couple of airhead celebrities, right?
Who cares? Well, the Hilton family.
Hilton’s mother, who with her husband donated $4,600 to McCain’s campaign earlier in the year, has said McCain’s ad is a “waste of money” and “a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs.” Harsh, but probably fair, since as Jon Stewart points out in this clip, “John McCain thanks the Hilton family for their support. Now if you’ll excuse him, he’s got to take a nationally televised dump on their daughter.”
But it was Paris’ rebuttal last week that was truly brilliant – albeit in a scantily clad, tongue-in-cheek kind of way. She produced her own ad.
“Hey America,” it begins, “I’m Paris Hilton and I’m a celebrity, too. Only I’m not from the olden days and I’m not promising change like that other guy. I’m just hot,” she says.
Paris goes on to announce her candidacy for president and outlines her energy policy, suggesting a hybrid of offshore oil drilling and incentives for new energy technology. Oh, and she takes a couple shots at McCain, too: An announcer calls him “the oldest celebrity in the world, like super-old, old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket.”
I never thought I’d say it, but I “likes it.” And others did, too. The ad has garnered five million hits and counting. And at least one politician thought Hilton’s energy plan was totally hot: Republican Congressman Michael Burgess, from Texas, suggested last week, “Let’s bring up the Paris Hilton plan.” Indeed.
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