Joe Lavin

June 12, 2007

Paris, Transformed

You have to hand it to Paris Hilton. Who else could have found God after just a week in prison? At least, that's what she told Barbara Walters on Day 8 of our long national nightmare. In an incredible phone interview, she told Walters:

"My spirit or soul did not like the way I was being seen and that is why I was sent to jail. God has released me."

"I have become much more spiritual. God has given me this new chance."

And finally that her skin is "very dry" because she's not allowed to use moisturizer in prison.

Okay, that last one doesn't sound much like the new Paris, but she did say, "It doesn't matter. I'm not that superficial girl. I haven't looked in the mirror since I got here." She also said that during the first few days she "felt like [she] was in a cage," which shows that she was at least observant during that time.

Still, her transformation is impressive. Usually, it takes considerably longer than seven days to find God in prison, not to mention finding Barbara Walters. Paris is nothing if not efficient. Just think of all the histrionics she has crammed into her first week. A lesser prisoner would have taken years and multiple jail terms to show off all those emotions. There are some people on death row who haven't experienced as many life-altering moments as she already has in a week.

This interview with Walters took place by phone on Monday, but already on Sunday you could see signs of Paris' transformation. In a statement released Sunday, she announced that she wouldn't appeal her sentence and that she was "shocked" by all the attention her case was getting. She then urged us all to "focus on more important things like the men and women serving our country in Iraq."

Wow, there's nothing quite like being told what's really important in life by a jailed Paris Hilton. This created the interesting, and somewhat depressing, situation, in which I was wasting part of my Sunday afternoon reading an article about Paris Hilton only to have Paris tell me in that article that I should be reading about Iraq instead. Don't you think I was feeling guilty enough already without Paris nagging me too? Later, Lindsay Lohan chided me for not paying enough attention to congressional immigration reform, so all in all it wasn't a good weekend.

Admittedly, I don't feel that bad, because I've mainly been reading about the case, while avoiding cable news altogether, which makes me something of an intellectual Paris Hilton watcher. Or so I like to think. I find that by reading newspaper articles about her case, I've really been able to place the entire story in a context that is no doubt sorely missing from cable news.

For such a frivolous story, there are many important questions, such as: Is it still called house arrest when you have more than one house on your property? And wouldn't house arrest be a lot more effective if the guilty party didn't get to choose the house? I think there are many people who would have gladly volunteered their house for Paris' house arrest. And what exactly was this medical condition that got her released? Her condition sounded remarkably like "being Paris Hilton in jail," but I could be wrong.

And then there's the biggest question of all: when it comes to justice, is there really a different standard for rich people? The answer, of course, is yes, but just to play devil's advocate, is that really a bad thing? Perhaps we should take advantage of all this.

Just imagine, for example, how much money Paris Hilton would have spent on Friday in order to stay out of jail. You have to think it would have been an amazing amount of money. And then imagine all the good in the world that could have been done with that money. Or is it worth more to the national morale just to have Paris Hilton in jail for a couple of weeks? Let's face it. For better or worse, it really has put a spring in everyone's step just to have her behind bars.

Still, there might be something to the idea of letting the rich and famous buy their way out of jail at exorbitant prices. With so much of young Hollywood getting busted for DUI and god-knows-what-else these days, a policy like this could surely help make a dent in world poverty. When it comes to charity in Hollywood and giving back to the world community, Lindsay Lohan alone could soon become the new Angelina Jolie.

©2007 Joe Lavin

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