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Paris Hilton’s Fabulous Wedding Weekend And The Arc Of Aughts Pop Culture

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Paris Hilton finally tied the knot with a predictably lavish three-day celebration that involved the entire Santa Monica Pier, Paula Abdul, and an endless parade of camera-ready celebrities. Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky and Managing Editor Madeline Osburn discuss the event below.

Emily Jashinsky: Madeline, I have two big takeaways. First, I think the timing with Britney Spears’ terminated conservatorship is fascinating… it’s like the boomerang of life is coming around for the women who were boosted by aughts tabloid culture and then destroyed by it. Kim Kardashian held Paris’s wedding dress for a great picture winking at her origin story.

Since mass media, celebrities have grown up in front of everyone’s eyes, but not since social media has that happened with such intimate daily insight. Maybe it’s a sign we’re adapting successfully to the fan-tabloid-celebrity relationship and maybe it’s a sign that healthy norms of adulthood will endure. (Although there’s evidence the class dynamics on that question are trending in the wrong direction.)

That said, of course Paris Hilton is going to have a spectacular wedding and she absolutely should. But I don’t want Zoomers to keep putting off marriage because they can’t afford or even find the fairy tale they’re looking for, and they see weddings as parties more than moments of immense religious significance. What do you think? You’re a lifelong Paris stan.

Madeline Osburn: I’m very happy for Paris. I think it’s great she finally had the wedding she always hoped for and I think her circumstances are so different that I’m not worried about it setting up fairy tale expectations for young fans. True fans of hers know how long she’s wanted to get married and wanted to start a family, so I don’t think we see it as an intentional delay, and obviously not one for financial reasons.

You are absolutely on to something with the timing of Britney’s conservatorship news and I would even say Kim hosting “Saturday Night Live” and ending KUWTK only to launch a new reality series on Hulu. There is this interesting dynamic that I can only describe as each of these women, who were all created and formed by the onset of tabloid culture, are finally seizing control of their lives instead of just reacting to what tabloid media was projecting on to them.

Even though Paris and Kim and Britney and Lindsay have been household names for two decades, just in the last two to three years have they each taken a path that seems more of their own intentional choosing and passions. Clearly that’s happened with Paris as she started producing her own documentaries and shows, setting the record on her past and manifesting her future.

She shared her past trauma and coming of age story in the documentary “This is Paris,” and said “I’m now going to be a married domestic goddess” in her own tongue-in-cheek way with “Cooking with Paris.” She also has another new reality show about her love story and marriage coming out I believe.

I could keep drilling down into this, especially regarding Britney and the press, but I’m going to leave it at that and just say, tabloid culture nearly ruined these women (shaved head and all), and all these years later they not only survived but now have complete control of a nasty media industry that many other celebrities do not.

EJ: Is it tabloid culture that ruined them? Paris has always been shockingly stoic. There was a time when nobody took her seriously, but the reaction to her wedding weekend was so interesting. She’s beloved now! And seen as high class. Did she change or did we?

MO: It obviously didn’t ruin them professionally, but it was uh, not great for them mentally. That’s what a large part of “This is Paris” as well as the #FreeBritney movement has been about — exposing how Spears was as much of a victim of the media as she was her dad.

I think the dumb spoiled rich girl Paris Hilton played on “Simple Life” was a character, even if there was some truth to it. That character stuck with her and that’s what people didn’t take seriously, but over the next two decades Paris pursued her own projects and built her own brand long before anyone knew that was even a thing. After creating 19 different lines of merchandise and becoming the highest-paid DJ in the world, I think she really earned her beloved fan base, even if she is an heiress.