Columns » John Brummett

Lessons from Paris



First, and in this regard I write purely clinically, she instructs in what the typical heterosexual American male finds attractive. And that is exhibition. Mere, unabashed exhibition. Not well-considered quality. Just that it shows.

This is shallow of men, of course. Forgive the redundancy.

I recall, years ago, watching with my dear wife one of the early episodes of an acclaimed new situation comedy, called “Friends.” My dear asserted that Courtney Cox was lovely and would become a star. I disagreed. I said the other one would be the star.

Being female, thus of a different planet from mine, my dear wife hadn’t yet even considered Jennifer Aniston, whose character required her to wear high heels and a tiny, high-thigh skirt stretched tight.

I’m getting myself in trouble, I know. I seem to be judging women by purely physical superficiality.

So please understand that I’m not saying any of this is right. I’m not saying Courtney Cox didn’t deserve better. I’m not saying Jennifer Aniston wouldn’t have made it as big in different garb, or is any less a talent or intellect on account of what she wore. Indeed, she proved herself in a movie called “The Good Girl.”

I’m simply saying that a better interplanetary understanding between genders might be beneficial. And I’m merely explaining why anyone would give a second thought to an altogether too-skinny, unattractive, bony-kneed, dim-witted, vapid, personality-deprived atrocity of a hotel heiress.

When this thing calling itself Paris Hilton came to the tiny Arkansas hamlet called Altus to make that lame “reality” show called the “Simple Life,” she engaged the young country boys in the local tavern. She did so by lifting what passed for her skirt so that the old boys could take guesses on whether she was wearing a thong or nothing. This made her attractive to the young men. They reached this judgment without any well-considered analysis.

Now, if I may move to greater substance, quickly.

The second instruction is that, no matter how worldly one becomes, and even if, for example, one’s sex acts have been videotaped for public consumption, the basic human instinct is to feel and demonstrate a certain prevailing need if in trouble. That is for the love and comfort of a parent, “Mom,” in the hysterically crying Paris’ case as she got sent back to jail.

That helps explain the prominence of maternal issues in psychological disorders. And it ought to help sensitize us to the hopelessness of those who have no one to cry out for, or reach for.

Finally, Paris instructs us that not only can religion provide the last refuge of a scoundrel, it also can be the hasty second refuge, after mommy, of a child of privilege who finds herself temporarily inconvenienced.

A couple of days in jail without mommy had Paris on the phone with Barbara Walters, the official arbiter of American celebrity, to explain that she’d found the Lord. She said she would, upon release, set about doing good works and providing a noble example for young girls.

She’d managed to contort her brain to deal for the time being with conditions she found unbearable.

Is that true religion? Of course not. It’s desperate, irrational need. True religion would be revealed not from imprisoned words, but by post-incarceration actions.

That goes for everyone else professing religion. Is it merely their neediness talking?

We should pay scant attention unless we can see religion beyond cheap words, and in consistent living.

Thank you, Paris, for these lessons. Well, the latter two. That first one might not be as valuable as I was thinking as I typed it.

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