Paris’s presumption comes off as especially obnoxious in this hard-nosed, meritocratic age. Who is she to flaunt her easy privilege, her mindless entitlement, her careless idleness? One reason her “celebutard” IQ grates on us so much—“Could anyone be this stupid?” Newsweek asked in its review of The Simple Life—is that it comes at a time when we believe brains, or at least Ivy League degrees, are a necessary precondition for legitimate success. The panic over fancy diplomas dominates domestic life for many Americans and seems to spare almost no one, even the sons and daughters of the very rich. Evidently Paris didn’t have the gray matter to do what so many of our country’s young heiresses do these days: that is, go to Brown. We might excuse her if she had.
In fact, Paris violates all of the unspoken rules for the born-rich in our democratic republic. Grandes dames of yesterday, such as Brooke Astor, might be idle, but they had the virtue of reminding us of a lost world of tradition, breeding, high culture, and noblesse oblige philanthropy. Paris wouldn’t know Astor old-school manners if she tripped over them in her gold stilettos. She is a trash princess, as vulgar as Bart Simpson and dressed in T-shirts that say “Got Blow?,” tacky, Pepto-Bismol pink hoodies and matching shoes, and underwear that she notoriously neglects to wear under. Unlike reticent Park Avenue bluebloods, she is deeply exhibitionistic. Though she cried foul when The Tape was released, who could take her outrage seriously? After all, during “lovemaking,” to use another of the euphemisms Paris’s life seems to collect, she wrestled Rick Solomon to the side to make sure the camera was Paris-centered. At least in the past, the upper classes kept their unconventional predilections quiet, with whips and handcuffs stowed discreetly in the closet. Paris, by contrast, makes a career out of scaring the horses.