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Shawskank Redemption | The Nation

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Shawskank Redemption

First she name-dropped "the men and women serving our country in Iraq," and then moved on to God. With that kind of rhetoric, you'd think Ms. Hilton was running for office. Too bad the Beltway PR strategy isn't working out for her. If you have any doubts about the kind of vitriol Paris inspires, check out ParisHiltonAutopsy.com. And Republicans say class warfare is passe.

There's been a lot of media hand-wringing over the media's own coverage of the Hilton travails, aptly titled by Jon Stewart as "The Shawskank Redemption." All of us -- including Paris herself-- agree, there are more important issues to cover than this made-for-tabloids saga. But note that no one -- especially the average media egghead -- is making the same argument about the wall-to-wall Sopranos coverage. Endlessly analyzing the metaphysical and cultural significance of the ending of an HBO mob series is A-okay even when there are folks dying on the streets of Baghdad. But it's a crime against humanity to waste so much ink on the antics of some blonde bimbette. Hmm, the right priorities or just pop culture snobbery? Not that there is anything wrong with the latter, but in the midst of all this self-righteous indignation, it's good to remind ourselves that pop culture is still just pop culture, even when it involves eight-letter words.

And when it comes to cultural significance, Paris trumps any fictional angst-ridden suburban mob boss, however well-written. No one better represents the fervid obsession with wealth, warped notions of beauty and female sexuality, and impoverished criteria for fame that is 21st century America. Sure we think Tony is cool -- and he's not exactly a role model either -- but the sad fact is that her vapid, party-hopping, pill-popping celebrity existence is what passes for the American Dream these days.

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