‘The Bling Ring’ & the Age of ME

We live in a society that is obsessed with celebrity. That statement cannot come as a shock.

Whether it’s the usual suspects, which consist of movie stars with megawatt smiles, or athletes with the Herculean abilities, or larger-than-life, carefully crafted musicians, we can’t get enough.

We’re so addicted to celebrity that we even worship at the alter of people who are famous solely for being famous (eg. reality TV stars). Well, some of us do.

The real-life story behind The Bling Ring, which Sofia Coppola has adapted from a Vanity Fair article and brought to life on the big screen, makes for fascinating fodder.

“The Bling Ring,” also known as the “Hollywood Hills Burglars,” were a group of mostly of teenagers who burglarized the homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox, Lindsey Lohen, and others.

Like moths to flame, they were drawn to shiny objects (preferably by famous designer names). But there’s more to it than just the pursuit of “bling.” By entering the private homes of their icons and acquiring their possessions, they were also grabbing on to a piece of that elusive stardust. There was an intimacy to their act of burglary. They were closer to celebrity, closer to understanding what it feels like to be one — closer to becoming “special.”

Coppola’s interpretation of events hints at this by having the gang linger far too long at certain homes. They not only grab on to expensive jewels and designer bags, they also make time to try on lipgloss, look through photos, or lie in bed, imagining that this is all theirs.

Still, we never really get inside their heads. We don’t get a sense of who these people really are and what’s behind this obsession. Are they just as vapid and shallow as they appear on the surface, or is there something deeper hiding within, perhaps a pain and hunger that is being drawn out by the masks they so liberally put on?

We never really find out.

This is undoubtedly the age of the individual. In a world where everything is mass produced, we want to be unique. We want to stand out.

Celebrities do, so we’re endlessly fascinated by them. The closer we are in proximity to them, the more special we feel we become. Piece by piece, we try to inch in. First step: Get an autograph. Second: A response on twitter. Third, and more intimate, get into the same party. Exchange a few words? Jackpot.

The truth is that for all the technology that connects us, we cannot be more alone. The sense of community has been all but torn apart. So then, it becomes all about me, me, me.

Fame not only seems like a quick and easy way to gain material goods, but also a way to appear unique and special. Ironically, many attempt to achieve this fame by emulating others who have it.

The infamous gossip monger Walter Winchell, in a bout of wisdom, once remarked that “the way to become famous fast is to throw a brick at someone who is famous.”

The Bling Ring sure dropped a heck of a heavy brick.

One cannot help but wonder, despite their punishment, if they must feel some sort of gratification knowing that they’ve not only become an overnight media sensation following their arrest, but having now also become significant enough to have their story told on celluloid by an Oscar-winning filmmaker.

In a sense, they’ve become the celebrities they so desperately wanted to embody.

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2 Responses to ‘The Bling Ring’ & the Age of ME

  1. Mine on The Bling RIng, but in Spanish at elriodellobo.com

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  2. ZarkWriting says:

    Well said & beautifully written. We are a nation of celebrity worshippers all trying to be known & less alone. But the underside of this obsession brings us Mark David Chapman–and probably, worse. Wonder if the Bling Ring knows about him?

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