Column, Movie Diary

All that glitters isn’t gold

I often listen to podcasts when I run. I find that the conversations help me detach when things get difficult – like when I’m headed up a long hill or struggling through the last mile. I also know that running puts me in a state of mind where I’m able to be truly present as I listen to people talk, which isn’t always easy in our distractive world.

During these runs, I’ll occasionally hear someone utter something so interesting or perceptive that I have to stop and write it down. That’s why I always carry an index card and small pencil in my pocket.

While I was out for a run last week, someone on a podcast who was discussing the ills of our current social media landscape stated, “It’s easier to condemn than understand.”

That line – as simple as it may be – hit me funny. In today’s chaotic climate, it seems that there’s a lot of condemning going on and not an awful lot of understanding. That’s not to say that if we look closely, we will always be sympathetic, but more often than not, we all condemn rather than understand simply because it’s easier.

I had that in mind over the weekend while I was flipping through YouTube videos. At one point, my recommendation feed offered up the new film, “This is Paris,” a nearly two-hour documentary detailing socialite Paris Hilton’s life story.

My first thought was, “Yeah, right.”

But then something funny happened. After remembering the aforementioned quote, I clicked on the link and did a quick read of what the documentary entailed. After a few moments, I said to myself, “You know what? I’m going to give this a try for 15 minutes, and if it’s as bad as I think it’s going to be, then I’ll shut it down.”

I applauded myself for trying to understand Paris Hilton and not condemning her – even if it was only going to be for 15 minutes.

So, I clicked the play button, got comfortable on the couch, and began to watch “This is Paris.”

I should mention that I have not been aware of Paris Hilton’s activities since she stopped going to jail and getting featured on tabloid covers because of her party exploits. I just assumed she was back living in a hotel somewhere being rich.

Boy, was I wrong.

It turns out, “This is Paris” is revealing on many levels.

First of all, I had no idea just how successful this young woman is. She is currently an entrepreneur and businesswoman, a real estate mogul, a DJ and recording artist, a New York Times best-selling author, and a philanthropist.

She is paid millions of dollars in appearance fees, she has 19 product lines, 25 fragrances, and is widely regarded as the first and one of the most successful social media online influencers. This all adds up to a multi-billion dollar global brand (yes, that’s “billion” with a “b”).

The fact that she is as successful as she is astounding given that I (like most people) thought she was the archetype dumb blond.

But what’s even more intriguing is how troubled this woman is. She’s an insomniac, she has paralyzing anxiety, she’s been in multiple abusive relationships, she’s highly addicted to social media, and according to the documentary, she (along with several other survivors) was mentally and physically abused at a boarding school she attended years ago.

Things get really interesting when she starts to draw correlations between her ongoing struggles and the drive that pushes her to earn billions of dollars.

I’ll admit that I was suspect of this film. Afterall, she was a producer so who’s to say this isn’t a sympathy grab to enhance her brand even more?

That’s why I turned to an online psychologist who specializes in analyzing these types of things. (If you’re not aware, there’s several reputable therapists on YouTube who comment on situations and people with their professional perspective.)

The one I watched was “Psychology in Seattle” featuring Dr. Kirk Honda. In his review, Dr. Honda watches “This is Paris” and comments on Hilton’s behaviors, train of thought, and apparent trauma. His insights and discernments offer some intriguing understandings on this young woman’s unique circumstances.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I do recommend watching “This is Paris” (and I’d also check out some therapist commentaries on YouTube as well). It’s obviously not going to be for everyone, but if you’re fascinated with people’s behaviors, this is one case that will have you captivated.

A sparkly “B” for “This is Paris.”

You can find “This is Paris” on YouTube for free.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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