The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Paris Hilton is ordure. She is; I got this information from a damn near unimpeachable source. Paris Hilton is ordure because Tina Fey says so. Ms. Fey did not say ordure, of course; in her recent interview with Howard Stern Ms. Fey referred to Ms. Hilton as a piece of the English word most commonly used to refer to ordure, but I am sure you catch her drift without my being scatological. This is a blog for the entire family, you know.

I bring this subject up—not ordure, of course, although I suppose if we were all farmers we could carry on a rip-roaring intellectual donnybrook on the virtues of various types of ordure, with the partisans of cow dung, many of whom have jobs in the government, media, or academia, manning the battlements against the Young Turks who think horse manure is the acme of the fertilizer’s art—because I must admit to a certain fascination with both Ms. Fey and Ms. Hilton. Ms. Fey is, to my mind, one of the funniest women writing today, and maybe the funniest since the death of Veronica Geng. She was, for almost ten years, the head writer on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, during which time she sharpened the satiric edge of a program that had gotten safe and stodgy riding on the reputation it made in the 1970’s, and now she has a show of her own, 30 Rock, which I recommend to your attention. Obviously, there will be a problem here for some of my fellow red-staters, as the show also stars one of our favorite liberal loathes, Alec Baldwin; I also recommend you get over it—Baldwin’s funny as hell in the show, and red state or blue state, we can all use a good laugh.

As for Ms. Fey, there’s even a bit of mystery about her; speculation amongst geeks, nerds, dorks, and other asocial males like myself about how Ms. Fey acquired the scar next to her mouth runs from the utterly mundane (she cut herself shaving…don’t ask—I know this guy and he’s a moron) to the more or less fantastic (space aliens in league with the Trilateral Commission needed a DNA sample in order to clone a race of super-smart, super-funny Greeks unconnected with the restaurant industry…okay, all in all, I’d say that tends to the more fantastic side of the scale; this is the sort of thing that happens when some people don’t take their meds on schedule). As more than one magazine has put it, and quite rightly, I think, Ms. Fey is the thinking man’s sex symbol, complete with good looks, sharp wit, and nerdy eyeglasses. Ms. Hilton, on the other hand, is an Irish setter.

This, I know, is a somewhat jarring comparison, since Ms. Hilton is in no way a dog, as that term is understood in certain male quarters like Gallagher’s Sports Bar & Grill or Don German’s Hair Cut & Hand Gun Emporium down the street. Ms. Hilton is a beautiful young woman, just as Irish setters are beautiful dogs, but as I learned from a neighbor who breeds them, the beauty of Irish setters comes at a price, and that price is that no matter how beautiful Irish setters may be, as a breed they tend not to be the brightest bulbs in the canine universe. In short, they’re dumb as posts, as one of my neighbor’s setters proved when it ran after and tried to catch the Amtrak express train from New York to Albany as it roared through our happy little burg one fine summer day six years ago. I will leave the results of said misadventure to your imaginations.

In a somewhat similar vein, and without the deus ex machina intervention of Amtrak or any other poorly run quasi-governmental transportation entity, Ms. Hilton is the purebred scion of one of the best-known brands in American capitalism, and is, along with Arthur Sulzberger of The New York Times, a prime example of why giving lots of money to your children, like letting them subsist on a diet of cotton candy and Coca-Cola, may not be such a good idea. Ms. Hilton is now a celebrity, a celebrity in the modern sense of the word, which is to say she is famous for being famous. But why is she famous? Other than a somewhat infamous tape and the endless attention of the paparazzi, which she parlayed into a somewhat silly “reality” show, can anyone think of a single memorable thing that Ms. Hilton has said, other than the stunning vapid, that’s hot, and the somewhat more interesting, I don’t think I can get my mouth around that (no, I haven’t seen the tape, I am merely speculating for comic effect here)? I can understand why Anna Nicole Smith is famous, although I’m at a loss to understand why anyone would care one way or the other, but Ms. Hilton lacks even the interesting back-story Ms. Smith brings to the table. Like the European aristocrats mocked in Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro, Ms. Hilton has done nothing to gain her current status except take the trouble to be born.

In her interview with Howard Stern, Ms. Fey relates that when Ms. Hilton guest hosted Saturday Night Live, she wanted the writers to come up with a skit mocking Jessica Simpson because she didn’t like Ms. Simpson. Now, it goes almost without saying that Ms. Simpson is a very easy comedic target. She is just as blonde as Ms. Hilton, she is just as good-looking as Ms. Hilton, and I am sure that Ms. Simpson will be living down her now infamous televised Chicken of the Sea space-out for the rest of her life. The problem with the comparison, however, is that Ms. Simpson has actually done something for her fame: she is a singer. I am not sure what Ms. Hilton does for her celebrity other than simper for photographers and look good in clothes, a talent she shares with many a department store window mannequin, not that the casual observer would notice any real difference between the two.


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