This makes me uncomfortable.

Is it just me, or does this just feel… wrong?

Author: has written 5280 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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76 Responses

  1. everstar
    everstar November 6, 2006 at 10:22 pm |

    Not just you. Definitely not just you.

    I’m trying to picture it the other way around with a twenty-something buff young dude in skimpy outfits writhing around a teenage girl and… yikes.

  2. evil fizz
    evil fizz November 6, 2006 at 10:23 pm | *

    If I watched with my eyes closed, it’d be kinda catchy. As it is, I feel sick to my stomach.

  3. Scott Eric Kaufman
    Scott Eric Kaufman November 6, 2006 at 10:31 pm |

    Wrong and not even funny! I prefer my wrong to be funny–like it is here.

  4. Frumious B.
    Frumious B. November 6, 2006 at 10:38 pm |

    my eyes are bleeding.

    let’s regender that – Orlando Bloom cavorting in front of random 14 year old girl. it would be pretty clear that it’s not appropriate.

  5. Scott Eric Kaufman
    Scott Eric Kaufman November 6, 2006 at 10:52 pm |

    Yes, which is why I recommend funny sexual innuendo aimed at 14 year old boys instead.

    That said, that kid’s skinniness is disturbing. I’d make a tasteless joke about who Hilton wanted for that role, but I’m going to take the hide road…and just allude to its punchline.

  6. Ericka
    Ericka November 6, 2006 at 10:54 pm |

    Ewww. There’s something reptilian about the whole thing. Highly inappropriate. Plus the music sucks.

  7. june
    june November 6, 2006 at 10:59 pm |

    Um, given the female school teachers getting busted for having sex with male students, it seems in especially poor taste.

    At first, I thought that, with the bullying and the chihuahua, he was going nto be gay and Paris was going to be his glamour-queen-role-model teaching him some sort of “you go girl” lesson. But, that misunderstanding was cleared up pretty quickly.

  8. Cooper
    Cooper November 6, 2006 at 11:05 pm |

    Disgusting. I don’t know what bothers me more, the whole inappropriate adult-child sexual relationship, or the implicit idea that this video isn’t inappropriate because female sexuality is subjugated to even barely pubescent males.

    (However, my disgust is slightly mitigated by the many BSG Baltar/Six jokes I could possibly make about it.)

  9. JackGoff
    JackGoff November 6, 2006 at 11:14 pm |

    WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    That is all.

  10. Ole Blue The Heretic
    Ole Blue The Heretic November 6, 2006 at 11:16 pm |

    I watched until I saw Paris then I had to stop. I can only take so much abuse.

  11. Joe
    Joe November 6, 2006 at 11:17 pm |

    Not really that shocking. It’s fairly similar to Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher video, just a bit amped up (and a worse song).

  12. evil fizz
    evil fizz November 6, 2006 at 11:32 pm | *

    It’s fairly similar to Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher video, just a bit amped up (and a worse song).

    You know, Hot for Teacher offends me far less, I think because it doesn’t open with swirlies. The bullying creeps me out more than the kid watching Paris get undressed.

  13. X. Trapnel
    X. Trapnel November 6, 2006 at 11:34 pm |

    I’m no fan of the song or the video, but … the 14-year-old isn’t the sexualized one here, not so? At least in the part of the clip we see here, isn’t the narrative that the kid is fantasizing about Paris Hilton? Now, that’s clearly a sign of bad taste, and his internalizing of weird beauty standards etc etc., but I’m not sure how it’s either [as Cooper puts it in 8] (a) a sketchy abuse-of-minors issue or (b) an unusually problematic case of female sexuality as service. I think (b) is the more worrisome part, but … in this particular case, it seems the kid’s fantasies are a straightforward melding of two aspects of his life, “no one likes me” and “Paris Hilton is awesome”, into a fantasy of “Paris Hilton likes me!”

    I actually really don’t see what would be problematic about a version of this where a 14-year-old female dork wakes up in her room–a room plastered with posters of Legolas from Lord of the Rings–and goes to school daydreaming about Orlando Bloom making eyes at her. I have female friends who *have* daydreamed about Orlando Bloom plenty–is this only the privilege of legal adults? So long as the underage character is clearly not the sexualized one, what exactly is the reason for being so concerned, aside from our general obsession with children’s “innocence”?

    I suppose my real point is simply that insofar as the video is about *daydreaming*, it seems if anything more innocuous than your average trading-off-singer’s-sex-appeal video. [Although ... I saw this once at the gym; does it end with Paris Hilton actually appearing somehow and joining him at school? If so, I'm a little less sure of what to think--though I wouldn't be at all concerned by the Legolas version.]

  14. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte November 6, 2006 at 11:50 pm |

    Whatever. Paris Hilton helps a plebe. Will her next video show her dressing up in 18th century French peasants’ clothes and sheepherding?

  15. CatatonicLindsay
    CatatonicLindsay November 6, 2006 at 11:57 pm |

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    Somehow I don’t think that ew was long enough.

  16. Lauren
    Lauren November 7, 2006 at 12:16 am |

    I still don’t understand why she’s famous. Famous for being famous?

  17. Isabel
    Isabel November 7, 2006 at 12:21 am |

    Someone on some VH1 or E! show (…shut up, nothing good was on) once described Paris Hilton as “an invention of the Page Six gossip column.” This, in my view, nicely ties together two truths I hold near and dear to my heart, namely that Paris Hilton is useless, and that the New York Post is in fact the root of all that is evil.

  18. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. November 7, 2006 at 12:32 am |

    I don’t get it. Is it a movie trailer or something?

  19. Cooper
    Cooper November 7, 2006 at 12:37 am |

    X. Trapnel, my issue with this video isn’t the idea of a younger teenager having a sexual fantasy. My issue is that an adult is portrayed displaying herself sexually to a child in a way that is not legally or morally acceptable,* but that probably no one outside the feminist community will be offended by it**, because of the patriarchical belief that males of any age are in subjects in control of sexual interactions with female sexual objects. I do think that a video of an adult man lounging on a 14-y.o. girl’s bed, taking off his clothes in front of her in a window, and leering suggestively at her in a secluded room would be disturbing to most people.

    *The text superimposed over the video led me to the intepretation that Paris does appear in the boy’s real life, and undresses in the window and squirms suggestively in the trophy room for him.
    **And the abstinence-only crowd, of course.

  20. Becky
    Becky November 7, 2006 at 12:45 am |

    June, that’s exactly what I thought! I was waiting for him to start dressing up like Paris, and was disappointed when it turned out to be the cliche storyline that it is.

  21. Sycorax
    Sycorax November 7, 2006 at 1:06 am |

    What creeps me out is the use of a “hot” woman as an object that confers social status. The culmination of this kid’s fantasy isn’t hanging out and interacting with his dream woman, it’s being seen with her by the rest of the school.

  22. scats
    scats November 7, 2006 at 3:36 am |

    what Sycorax says.

    also: the closing message is: “dare to dream” dream what? that someday a celebrity will move in next door to you and become your trophy? that someday you’ll randomly get lucky and bullies will stop abusing you?

    what about that dream requires daring?

    possible alternates:

    “dare to be anaesthetized”
    “dare to believe in magic”
    “dare to conform”
    “dare to masturbate”

  23. mk
    mk November 7, 2006 at 7:34 am |

    The only thing that creeps me out is that I found a Paris Hilton song catchy.

  24. CJ
    CJ November 7, 2006 at 7:51 am |

    Is this not just a rip off of “The Girl Next Door”? The actress (with the bullies) at the start of the clip looks a lot like Elisha Cuthbert who starred in that film as well.

  25. Natalia Antonova
    Natalia Antonova November 7, 2006 at 8:15 am |

    Yeah, I think that’s Elisha Cuthbert.

    Orlando Bloom cavorting in front of random 14 year old girl. it would be pretty clear that it’s not appropriate.

    Yes, that’s why he needs to be at my house, cavorting in front of me.

    I’m weirded out by the video, but at the same time, I found it oddly appealing. I mean, the song’s kinda… Yeah, there goes my higher education…

  26. Gabe Nichols
    Gabe Nichols November 7, 2006 at 8:32 am |

    I think in a way what creeped me out earlier is what this video says about how Paris Hilton views her place in the world. She really does believe that she is the number one fantasy of all teenage boys to which I can only say … god I hope not. I wans’t able to get over the intense egoism to think about what it said regarding statutory rape or gender relations.

  27. Andrew
    Andrew November 7, 2006 at 8:34 am |

    “dare to masturbate”

    It took me most of the video to decide that probably wasn’t the intended meaning.

    PS Paris Hilton as sexy schoolteacher cliche *really* doesn’t work.

  28. JW
    JW November 7, 2006 at 9:31 am |

    I’m with Sycorax, too. PH looks more like a pornstar than anything else (although perhaps she would take that as a compliment?), and her “sexuality” here has been utterly commodified as a way to confer Cool Dude status on a reasonably attractive kid who has been deemed “TV ugly.”

    It’s not about her desire for him, which is why the adult-teen thing bothers me less than it might, despite her writhing and canoodling. It’s all so plastic and poreless and icky, and it further underlines the idea that female sexuality is about looking “sexy” for males of any and all stripes (not least the viewer), not about having one’s own desires.

  29. elektrodot
    elektrodot November 7, 2006 at 11:04 am |

    yyeeaaa. i thought he was 12 until he started speaking but after he did i was like…eh. not much going on there. the only part that was pretty creepy was him looking at her undressing (uhh promoting stalkers much?) other than that it was just paris hiltons bland orgasm-less brand of sexuality. and she can keep that all to herself

  30. lilcollegegirl
    lilcollegegirl November 7, 2006 at 11:06 am |

    That is squicktastic. However, I think I get creeped out because if I were that kid, and Paris Hilton was prancing around me (or my head) like that…something would get hit, and the depiction of him liking it is just so Twilight Zone for me.

  31. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe November 7, 2006 at 11:24 am |

    I’m just bummed thinking of all the sound technology and engineering that went into making Paris Hilton sound good. What a waste of ingenuity.

  32. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 11:36 am |

    Teen boy finds non-violent way to trump the patriarchal denigration to which he’s been subjected.

    Artistic merits aside, the sentiment hardly seems objectionable; it’s even kind of sweet.

    As to the other comments, there’s a point at which legitimate concerns about age-appropriate behavior bleed into puritanical hysteria, and the concerns here seem a little overbl—, uh, excessive, but YMMV.

    Amanda: I don’t know about Paris becoming a shepherd, but there was that rumor about her becoming Mother Theresa from a while back.

  33. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 7, 2006 at 11:46 am |

    What skeeved me was that they had to train that poor dog to display his package like that… ugh.

  34. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 12:16 pm |

    Teen boy finds non-violent way to trump the patriarchal denigration to which he’s been subjected.

    Only if you’ve got a really callow definition of violence. What’s Paris Hilton being subjected to, here? Why is she famous as a mute living wet dream?

  35. Kim
    Kim November 7, 2006 at 12:35 pm |

    I don’t know what bothers me more, the whole inappropriate adult-child sexual relationship, or the implicit idea that this video isn’t inappropriate because female sexuality is subjugated to even barely pubescent males.

    Bingo!

  36. Veronica
    Veronica November 7, 2006 at 12:39 pm |

    Really, when it comes down to it, this is probably one of the LEAST obnoxious things Paris Hilton has done.

  37. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 1:15 pm |

    Oh, piny.

    Are you really going to try to make the case that either “Paris Hilton” (the character in the video) or Paris Hilton (the real person) are being exploited by this video?

    I am very skeptical about your ability to meet that challenge, which I think is daunting.

  38. Pretty Lady
    Pretty Lady November 7, 2006 at 1:28 pm |

    Oh, darlings, you all take yourselves so seriously. I thought it was terribly sweet. Dear Paris taking an interest in social activism and all. Who would have thought she would become so altruistic?

  39. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 1:29 pm |

    Are you really going to try to make the case that either “Paris Hilton” (the character in the video) or Paris Hilton (the real person) are being exploited by this video?

    I am very skeptical about your ability to meet that challenge, which I think is daunting.

    Are you really that reductive? Are you really that incapable of reading context into anything?

    I guess so.

    Look: Paris Hilton is undoubtedly being well-compensated for her performance. But why is her marketability based on that persona? Why is that desirable? What does that say about the real power dynamics here, that the woman’s place in this scenario is blue-note fairy to some lucky little teenager? That’s not power. That’s not prestige.

  40. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 1:35 pm |

    And don’t dodge. “Non-violent” depends on a conception of violence and subjugation that’s about as sophisticated as, well, that Carl’s Jr. commercial.

  41. TomCody
    TomCody November 7, 2006 at 1:58 pm |

    Tossing in my two cents: I think the video is shitty because it sucks, not necessarily because of the content.

    This is going with the patriarchial view of adolescent angst and desire and as many people pointed out, in terms of sexuality this would be totally different had it been a 14 year old girl. Not because young girls don’t have a sexuality but because society doesn’t want to acknowldge it. A 14 year old girl having a sexual fantasy about a 20 something man (like the boy is having a fantasy of a 20 something woman) would creep people out because girls are not thought to have a sexual agency of their own and it would be seen as the man taking advantage of a naive child, rather than a girl developing her own fantasy. On the other hand, no one thinks boys are taken advantage of by older women and “always” have sexual agency because they’re “boys” and all that crap (well, a good psychologist would but that’s beside the point).

    If the video had been a girl who’s being picked on then the accepted depiction of her with Orlando Bloom might have gone along the lines of this: She’s being picked on by a bunch of “mean” girls and the hot guys ignore her so one day she’s day dreaming and Orlando Bloom comes out of her poster and *perhaps* she would get a non sexual kiss, or some sort of visual affection so that she knows she is indeed desirable. From his affection she would gain confidence and would go through a “make over” in order for her to conform to the standard of beauty and THEN she would show up in the cafeteria looking “hot” with Bloom on her arm and everyone’s jaw would drop, etc. etc. and now that’s she’s hot she has value and all is right with the world.

    For the PH video all the boy needs is Paris Hilton for people to view him as attractive and “worthy” while a 14 year old girl would need to make her body over because if she didn’t then people would look at Bloom as if he’s mentally off. Now, don’t get me wrong, that can happen with some boys too but it’s far more acceptable for an average guy to get an attractive girl than vice versa (and the boy didn’t get a makeover in the video).

    And to answer someone’s question about why Paris Hilton is famous, it pretty much was Page Six. There was a wonderful time before the year 2000 where no one had ever heard of her and then she started showing up in the Page Six gossip columns as this 17 year old who’s grandfather had made a lot of money from hotels and who was spending all her times at clubs and somehow that made her gossip worthy enough so that FOX decided she’d make a good reality t.v. show, the sex tape came out and we know what happened from there. She is the quintessential example of being famous for being famous.

  42. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 1:59 pm |

    piny: Your response suggests that you do not believe that either “Paris Hilton” (the character) or Paris Hilton (the real person) were exploited by this specific video. (At least, I’m going to go on that assumption unless you make the case otherwise.)

    So, does that mean that despite the fact that no woman was actually exploited by THIS video, you nevertheless see THIS video as more evidence of the Exploitation of Woman in Our Culture? I can’t see you making that case, either.

    So that leaves something else you seem to be alluding to, something about the Phenomenon of Paris Hilton and What It Means for Women, and there I might or might not agree with you, you’ll have to do a little more connecting of the dots for me to understand what exactly your point is.

    But it seems to me the real nub of our disagreement is about the boy character in the video. It seems to me that he’s the only victim of the patriarchy here, and the resolution of the plot represents a triumph OVER the patriarchy. You seem determined to see the plot resolution as somehow a triumph OF the patriarchy, even though, as you seemingly concede, no woman in it was actually exploited.

  43. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:04 pm |

    piny: Your response suggests that you do not believe that either “Paris Hilton” (the character) or Paris Hilton (the real person) were exploited by this specific video. (At least, I’m going to go on that assumption unless you make the case otherwise.)

    I’m saying that she is indeed exploited: her place in the video is as an object, a status symbol for the boy to use in order to revalue himself in the hierarchy. He is using her, and using her for reasons that have nothing to do with anything but his own self-aggrandizement in an interaction that she has no independent part in.

    So, does that mean that despite the fact that no woman was actually exploited by THIS video, you nevertheless see THIS video as more evidence of the Exploitation of Woman in Our Culture? I can’t see you making that case, either.

    Yes. Women = trophies, as other commenters have said.

    But it seems to me the real nub of our disagreement is about the boy character in the video. It seems to me that he’s the only victim of the patriarchy here, and the resolution of the plot represents a triumph OVER the patriarchy. You seem determined to see the plot resolution as somehow a triumph OF the patriarchy, even though, as you seemingly concede, no woman in it was actually exploited.

    So the patriarchy involves male domination of women except, of course, when it totally doesn’t? Try to identify a definition and stick with it, hon. The boy has bought into the patriarchy; he’s using its mores to achieve success on its terms: he has supplanted the alpha male by subjugating someone else.

  44. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 2:08 pm |

    piny: Not dodging, BTW, just crossposted.

    Good grief, are you REALLY going to make the case that either “Paris Hilton’s” actions in the video at hand, or Paris Hilton’s choice to make this video were in the slightest degree violently coerced!?

    O.M.G.

    I’m speechless.

    I MUST be misunderstanding you somehow.

  45. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:13 pm |

    Of course, there’s the argument–which you seem to be fumbling towards–that there’s only one sort of power and status to tally up here, namely the brute physical kind. If the boy is scrawny, so the reasoning goes, any triumph on his part is therefore a triumph over brute (patriarchal) power. If you don’t acknowledge male sexuality–prowess and gratification–as a site of conventional masculinity not much differenct from the ability to beat the shit out of other men, you have an argument. If, however, you don’t pretend that women are read in these interactions merely as friends and allies, then that argument falls apart. There are two issues here: the treatment of the boy and the treatment of the woman. Even if the treatment of the boy didn’t reinscribe patriarchal norms, it wouldn’t erase her place in this story.

  46. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:14 pm |

    piny: Not dodging, BTW, just crossposted.

    Good grief, are you REALLY going to make the case that either “Paris Hilton’s” actions in the video at hand, or Paris Hilton’s choice to make this video were in the slightest degree violently coerced!?

    O.M.G.

    I’m speechless.

    I MUST be misunderstanding you somehow.

    Yes! Yes, you are. Like I said: you’re thinking on extremely shallow levels.

  47. zuzu
    zuzu November 7, 2006 at 2:22 pm | *

    If the video had been a girl who’s being picked on then the accepted depiction of her with Orlando Bloom might have gone along the lines of this: She’s being picked on by a bunch of “mean” girls and the hot guys ignore her so one day she’s day dreaming and Orlando Bloom comes out of her poster and *perhaps* she would get a non sexual kiss, or some sort of visual affection so that she knows she is indeed desirable. From his affection she would gain confidence and would go through a “make over” in order for her to conform to the standard of beauty and THEN she would show up in the cafeteria looking “hot” with Bloom on her arm and everyone’s jaw would drop, etc. etc. and now that’s she’s hot she has value and all is right with the world.

    ZZ Top already did that one. Except without the Orlando Bloom bit.

    And they did the makeover thing for men, too.

  48. Cyan
    Cyan November 7, 2006 at 2:28 pm |

    ballgame,

    Dude, you looked at a video where the nerd’s peeping Tom behavior is treated by Paris as endearing, and where the nerd has his status raised solely through being able to attract someone as “attractive” (which is to say, airbrushed and plasticized) as Paris Hilton, and you came to the colculsion that the resolution of the plot is a triumph over patriarchy. Wow.

    Who are the victims of patriarchy here? They are the uncritical viewers who watch this video and absorb its patriarchy-reinforcing storylines. Here’s just two:

    – how cool you are depends on the hotness of your girlfriend
    – women have value only by virtue of the male gaze, and need to conform to unrealistic standards lay claim to that value

    I’m sure if you read the comments carefully, you could come up with a few more on your own.

  49. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:29 pm |

    What Tom Cody said; her status would have to translate back into her body, and her unrealized potential would have to have some corresponding bodily reality, in order for it to make sense. Like the, “Ew, not her! She’s got glasses! And she’s wearing overalls! With paint on them!” thing from Not Another Teen Movie. In this movie, ugliness was nullified; for a teenage girl, it would be superceded.

  50. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:31 pm |

    Dude, you looked at a video where the nerd’s peeping Tom behavior is treated by Paris as endearing,

    Christ, thank you. So swirlies are humiliating, but stalking is respectful?

  51. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 2:31 pm |

    If you don’t acknowledge male sexuality–prowess and gratification–as a site of conventional masculinity not much differenct from the ability to beat the shit out of other men…

    *headdesk*

    Yes, as long as we’re talking about the difference between the other party consenting or not consenting, then, yes, I see ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD between these two things.

    My concept of patriarchy is not “men exploiting women”, I think it’s more complicated than that and is closer to elite (alpha?) men exploiting everyone else (although that too is a bit simplistic).

    And it’s not a question of the boy being scrawny, it’s a question of the boy being violently abused by patriarchal males and humiliated and ostracised by patriarchal males and females.

    (As for being “shallow”, I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of that before … it’s amusing and almost gratifying that you call me that.)

  52. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:37 pm |

    Yes, as long as we’re talking about the difference between the other party consenting or not consenting, then, yes, I see ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD between these two things.

    *Headdesk* yourself.

    What does that have to do with anything? What does consent have to do with analysis of these things as markers of status?

    My concept of patriarchy is not “men exploiting women”, I think it’s more complicated than that and is closer to elite (alpha?) men exploiting everyone else (although that too is a bit simplistic).

    In this discussion, it hasn’t been complicated. It’s been self-serving and inconsistent.

    And it’s not a question of the boy being scrawny, it’s a question of the boy being violently abused by patriarchal males and humiliated and ostracised by patriarchal males and females.

    Right: He’s not strong enough to defend himself, so he has to show his status in another way.

    (As for being “shallow”, I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of that before … it’s amusing and almost gratifying that you call me that.)

    Maybe shallow is unfair. Willfully uncomprehending? You’re reading like you’ve never read anything before. How’s that?

  53. TomCody
    TomCody November 7, 2006 at 2:45 pm |

    Hey zuzu! You are missed. Especially for BSG.

    I remember “legs” and I get what you are pointing out but what I was meaning in contrast to what a young adolescent male is allowed (full on sexual fantasy) this is what a young female would be allowed to have, i.e. no full on sexual fantasy. Very few times have young women’s sexuality been acknowldged (isn’t there an 80s film with Tatum O’Neal trying to lose her virginity? that’s all I can think of now. Little Darlings or something like that).
    As far as Paris Hilton, the endless feminist debate has been about women using their sexuality in order to get ahead and have power and I believe for Paris that’s honestly all she has. It can be debated but if she stopped posing for magazines like FHM and if she stopped making videos like this and attempted to be taken “serisously” without using sexuality how many of you think she would succeed?
    Much like her last video had her ripping off Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game” beach scene this is ripping off something else and keeping her the center of sexual desire. More than likely she (or her PR) came up with the concept of this video and she is the one who puts herself out there in this manner because she knows acting a certain way will get her money and attention and yes, it’s bleeding into the attitudes of young women which is sad. I guess the question is becoming again is it okay for women to essentially exploit themselves when it will effect other women?

  54. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 2:51 pm |

    I’m not sure “exploiting oneself” is a workable term; one can cooperate with exploitation, and negotiate an exploitative dynamic, but one cannot reverse the disparities of effort and agency involved. In other words, there’s no point at which cooperation allows you to transcend.

    You can be a rational actor in a disparate system; the fact that your choices are controlled does not mean that they don’t exist, or that you aren’t aware of them. Paris Hilton doesn’t have to be a dupe of the patriarchy in order to serve as an example of someone limited by it.

  55. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 7, 2006 at 2:53 pm |

    And it’s not a question of the boy being scrawny, it’s a question of the boy being violently abused by patriarchal males and humiliated and ostracised by patriarchal males and females.

    And the video’s answer to that question: have the boy whack off onto Paris Hilton’s cover image (you did note the magazine on the bed, did you not?).

    The true answer would then be: if you want to be manly enough, you need to learn how to use women.

  56. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 3:05 pm |

    What does consent have to do with analysis of these things as markers of status?

    Everything. There’s a world of difference between someone having status because they hurt (or threaten to hurt) someone violently, and having status because one is perceived as being sexually attractive. The former is blatantly immoral. The latter — while certainly problematic in some ways — is not.

    … the nerd has his status raised …

    He’s not strong enough to defend himself …

    Now to me, those are blatantly victim-blaming and patriarchy-reinforcing memes.

    … stalking is respectful?

    The boy is portrayed as being in his own yard sneaking a peek at woman undressing in front of an open window. Impish? Sure. But “stalking” implies a gravitas way out of proportion to what is being presented.

  57. Cyan
    Cyan November 7, 2006 at 3:07 pm |

    ballgame,

    I want to more closely examine two quotes of yours.

    “And it’s not a question of the boy being scrawny, it’s a question of the boy being violently abused by patriarchal males and humiliated and ostracised by patriarchal males and females.”

    “It seems to me that [the nerd is] the only victim of the patriarchy here, and the resolution of the plot represents a triumph OVER the patriarchy.”

    So let’s look at what happens to the antagonist popular guy at the end of the narrative. He becomes the loser; his tray is tipped on him while he stares on in disbelief at the nerd and Paris. This scene is symbolic of the violent abuse and humilation that he is now deemed to deserve.

    What’s going on here is that he and the nerd are both playing by the patriarchy’s rules, and according to those rules, he lost. He too is a victim of the patriarchy in the story, even though his humiliation is framed as justice. Nobody in the narrative questions whether the rules of the game are the right ones to play by.

    You seem also to have slipped past the point that Paris is portrayed as a token, not a person. I think that’s worthy of comment, don’t you?

  58. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 3:14 pm |

    Everything. There’s a world of difference between someone having status because they hurt (or threaten to hurt) someone violently, and having status because one is perceived as being sexually attractive. The former is blatantly immoral. The latter — while certainly problematic in some ways — is not.

    Not sexually attractive in that sense. This isn’t about the ability to make Paris Hilton happy or get Paris Hilton off. It’s about the ability to get Paris Hilton. And again: this is a red herring. This does not change the parallels between strength-as-status-symbol and arm-candy-as-status-symbol.

    Now to me, those are blatantly victim-blaming and patriarchy-reinforcing memes.

    Only because of an intellectually dishonest need to equate describing the dynamic presented in the video with endorsing or creating it. I’m not arguing that he deserves to be beaten up, and it’s ridiculous to infer otherwise. I’m arguing that the video’s analysis of status reads sexual prowess as compensation for lack of physical strength.

    The boy is portrayed as being in his own yard sneaking a peek at woman undressing in front of an open window. Impish? Sure. But “stalking” implies a gravitas way out of proportion to what is being presented.

    Impish? Scrawny is one thing, but he’s not a fucking three-year-old. He’s spying on her, even though he knows that he’s invading her privacy and even though he knows it’s inappropriate. It’s creepy and harassing, and it does qualify as stalking.

  59. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 3:15 pm |

    You seem also to have slipped past the point that Paris is portrayed as a token, not a person. I think that’s worthy of comment, don’t you?

    Well, since the character didn’t get a swirlie and the actress didn’t do it for free, it obviously isn’t.

  60. TomCody
    TomCody November 7, 2006 at 3:15 pm |

    A coworker literally just pointed this out to me when we were talking about the video and I thought I’d share. Now, take from this what you will, I have no idea if the soucre is credible or not:

    Biographer Jerry Oppenheimer claims that while researching his book ‘House of Hilton’ he found that 25-year-old Paris’ parents, Rick and Kathy, were not fazed when ‘One Night In Paris’ was leaked onto the internet, and eventually released as a DVD, without her permission.

    [...]The author also says he ended up feeling sorry for ‘The Simple Life’ star because her mother pressurised her to become a celebrity.

    [...] “”I feel sorry for her because in a way she had no chance to do anything else but live the dreams her grandmother and her mother had for themselves.”

    Here’s the link to the whole column.

  61. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 3:17 pm |

    But “stalking” implies a gravitas way out of proportion to what is being presented.

    And the fact that it’s presented as this cute, “impish,” boys-being-boys thing is not a defense against allegations of sexism. That framing constitutes sexism.

  62. ballgame
    ballgame November 7, 2006 at 3:21 pm |

    piny: It is not my intent to either be or be perceived as a troll here. I’m enjoying this discussion, but I think the ‘back and forth’ is getting a little frenzied and serving to obscure some interesting and productive perspectives about feminism. I’m also concerned that some of my comments may convey an animus that I really don’t feel.

    I don’t mind rhetorical swordplay, and I’m more than happy to continue, but I don’t want to convey disrespect. If you feel I’m getting ‘close to the line’, I hope you will let me know before I get there and I’ll be happy to bow out.

    (And I actually do have to step out for the moment but will be happy to respond later to some of the comments just made.)

  63. piny
    piny November 7, 2006 at 3:27 pm |

    piny: It is not my intent to either be or be perceived as a troll here. I’m enjoying this discussion, but I think the ‘back and forth’ is getting a little frenzied and serving to obscure some interesting and productive perspectives about feminism. I’m also concerned that some of my comments may convey an animus that I really don’t feel.

    Meh. I’m mostly annoyed by the patriarchy-supporting thing. I don’t think that’s a logical read at all, even if it was an honest one. If I argue that Paris Hilton is being viewed as an object, I’m not arguing that she is in fact indistinguishable from her chihuahua. If I argue that this guy’s unprepossessing physique is part of the way we’re supposed to view his status in the video, I’m not arguing that his worth as a human being depends on it.

    That having been said, this is not a mod note; I’m not on the verge of banning you or whatever, and don’t make those decisions in this comments thread in any case. I’m happy to continue.

  64. Cyan
    Cyan November 7, 2006 at 4:33 pm |

    Well, since the character didn’t get a swirlie and the actress didn’t do it for free, it obviously isn’t.

    Oh, well, duh, how silly of me. ;-)

  65. biosparite
    biosparite November 7, 2006 at 5:54 pm |

    My own fantasy, fulfilled at times in my life when I have been very fortunate: a female who is highly intelligent, has read all kinds of interesting books, has been the only other person I ever met who read the Algernon Blackwood story “The Wendigo,” is really accomplished in math/chemistry, and is open and sharing with her intelligence and knowledge: That’s SO sexy. Paris Hilton. NOT.

  66. trillian
    trillian November 7, 2006 at 10:44 pm |

    I was terrified I was going to have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the night/my life. Luckily, by msg 26 I couldn’t remember the tune if I tried.

    And, all the more important stuff that already got said.

  67. QueenieKim
    QueenieKim November 8, 2006 at 3:33 am |

    Poor Paris — I agree, her writhing around a 14-year old is creepy. Who do we get angry with, however, I wonder: Paris or the dumb-ass director who said “No, no Paris, this will be GREAT, you’ll see!”

  68. ballgame
    ballgame November 8, 2006 at 3:39 am |

    piny: Thanks for your feedback regarding the tenor of this discussion.

    cyan:

    So let’s look at what happens to the antagonist popular guy … He becomes the loser; his tray is tipped on him while he stares on in disbelief at the nerd and Paris. This scene is symbolic of the violent abuse and humilation that he is now deemed to deserve.

    What do you mean, “deemed to deserve”?? You don’t see the jock asshole “antagonist popular guy” getting off easy? I didn’t notice him or ‘Elizabeth Cuthbert’ get their faces shoved into toilets. I think the notion that now teen-boy and “Paris” are somehow perpetuating some new patriarchal regime is absurd. (Your continuing usage of the “nerd” epithet to denigrate teen-boy, on the other hand…)

    You’re conflating the actions of someone who is engaging in blatant, violent, patriarchal behavior (“antagonist popular guy”) with the victim of that behavior. I find this a bit mind boggling.

    By dint of her celebrity status and sexual attractiveness, “Paris Hilton” the character does a favor for a new neighbor and is able to dispel ‘patriarchal victim status’ from teen boy just by taking a walk with him at his school, an endearing if somewhat schmaltzy idea. She is not coerced into doing this favor in any way by the boy, nor is she compelled by gender-related economics to do so. I think it takes extravagantly tortured reasoning to see any exploitation or ‘tokenizing’ of either “Paris Hilton” the character or Paris Hilton the person in this video.

  69. evil fizz
    evil fizz November 8, 2006 at 12:05 pm | *

    I think it takes extravagantly tortured reasoning to see any exploitation or ‘tokenizing’ of either “Paris Hilton” the character or Paris Hilton the person in this video.

    Except for the fact that you just said that PH is about to help out the boy by virtue of her celebrity and sexual attractiveness. This is what it means to be a token. Her value is as arm candy and a symbol of “I’m so manly, I got this hot chick.”

    And for the last time, it doesn’t matter is what PH is doing is consensual. She’s part of a larger cultural script about trophy wives, women as accessories, and no amount of consenting is goign to take her out of context.

  70. piny
    piny November 8, 2006 at 12:29 pm |

    What do you mean, “deemed to deserve”?? You don’t see the jock asshole “antagonist popular guy” getting off easy? I didn’t notice him or ‘Elizabeth Cuthbert’ get their faces shoved into toilets. I think the notion that now teen-boy and “Paris” are somehow perpetuating some new patriarchal regime is absurd. (Your continuing usage of the “nerd” epithet to denigrate teen-boy, on the other hand…)

    Yeah, but a few comments ago, you talked about how humiliating the lunch-tray scene was–the anaphora of the imagery was a clear reference to the boy’s prior status.

    You’re conflating the actions of someone who is engaging in blatant, violent, patriarchal behavior (”antagonist popular guy”) with the victim of that behavior. I find this a bit mind boggling.

    Why, because someone cannot be both a victim of oppression and oppressive himself? That’s mind-boggling.

    I don’t see you applying the same fallacious reasoning to “epithets” like “token” and “arm candy.” Again: explaining the dynamic as presented, not endorsing it. You’re on a blog here, an idle intellectual one, in a comments thread dissecting the cultural subtext of a YouTube video. We’re all nerds. Many of us are scrawny or at least scrawny-oriented; few of us are similar in appearance to the jock or Elisha Cuthbert. We’re not insulting this boy. We’re talking about the way his physical appearance is coded in this scenario by these other people who have presented a collection of images with meaning attached to them.

    Except for the fact that you just said that PH is about to help out the boy by virtue of her celebrity and sexual attractiveness. This is what it means to be a token. Her value is as arm candy and a symbol of “I’m so manly, I got this hot chick.”

    Exactly.

  71. ballgame
    ballgame November 8, 2006 at 2:09 pm |

    Why, because someone cannot be both a victim of oppression and oppressive himself?

    Of course someone can. It’s just that in the case, he wasn’t.

    Anyway, I think we’re starting to go around in circles a bit. It’s been a fascinating discussion … chasms seem to separate us on our views on this thing.

  72. evil fizz
    evil fizz November 8, 2006 at 2:13 pm | *

    It’s just that in the case, he wasn’t.

    So he wasn’t contributing to the “beautiful women are accessories and status symbols” meme? Come on already.

  73. ballgame
    ballgame November 8, 2006 at 4:00 pm |

    First of all, it would be “they” and not “he”. (You and piny may think issues of consent are irrelevant here but I sure don’t.) And I don’t think teen boy treated “Paris Hilton” as an ‘object’ or ‘accessory’, the ‘power imbalance’ clearly lay on HER side, not his. And I think it was the pre-existing status given to “Paris Hilton” by the high school population for her looks and celebrity that allowed teen boy and “Paris” to use that to undermine the patriarchal order, not reinforce it.

  74. Natalia
    Natalia November 9, 2006 at 9:52 am |

    For the PH video all the boy needs is Paris Hilton for people to view him as attractive and “worthy” while a 14 year old girl would need to make her body over because if she didn’t then people would look at Bloom as if he’s mentally off.

    I have to make my body over for Orli?

    Crikey.

    See you at the gym, everyone.

    ;)

  75. I Read the Internets - 11/11/06
    I Read the Internets - 11/11/06 November 11, 2006 at 4:20 am |

    [...] , Jill at Feministe posted about a Paris Hilton music video, wondering: “Is it just me, or does this just feel… wrong?” Judging by the [...]

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