In an era where one can be famous just for being famous, many starlets seek fame in unconventional ways. Today, a celebrity arrest or affair is likely to gain more media attention than an Oscar winning performance. Fully aware of this phenomenon, many young celebrities reach high-profile status through troublemaking rather than talent.
Hollywood now panders to the tabloids and paparazzi, each attention grabbing-stunt proving to be more outrageous than the last. It appears that these fame-seekers have completely lost respect for the law and are seemingly unaware of real consequences. Hollywood antics have moved beyond outrageous hairstyles to drunk driving and even breaking and entering!
But this no-consequences lifestyle is starting to change. Recent arrests and celebrity convictions denote a new trend in Hollywood—judges are starting to crack down on celebrity delinquency. Michael Douglass’ son Cameron was recently sentenced to 5 years in jail for dealing drugs. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton also spent some time behind bars for her probation violation. Most recently, reality-TV’s rising star, Alexis Neiers, was sentenced to jail time for her role in a burglarizing scheme.
Pretty Wild, a new show on E!, exemplifies the bad-girl trend at its worst. The show offers an uncut look into the lives of former Playboy model Andrea Arlington and her three impetuous daughters—Tess, Alexis, and Gabby—as they attempt to launch their own modeling careers and ‘make it’ in Hollywood.
In a recent episode, LAPD arrests Alexis for her involvement with the "Bling Ring" thefts—a series of break-ins at the homes of celebrities including Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen, Paris Hilton, and Rachel Bilson. In spite of her felony convictions, Alexis’ focus remained the show’s ratings and her celebrity status. A recent Dateline special on the burglaries exposed Alexis’ lack of concern over her convictions. When asked if she believed she would face jail time, she replied, “I’m going to say no. I’m doing great. Thank you for asking, though.”
Perhaps the most disturbing part of this ordeal is Andrea Arlington’s behavior. At the time of her daughter’s arrest, Arlington appears to treat the situation as a media opportunity, welcoming the paparazzi attention instead of showing genuine concern for the serious consequences her daughter faces.
Alexis and her mother were dealt a blow of reality when she received a sentence of six months in jail and 3 years of probation. At the advice of her lawyers, Alexis entered a no contest plea in hopes of avoiding a harsher sentence. Her lawyer, Jeffery Rubenstein, stated "After lengthy consideration and fighting the best pretrial fight we could, we decided it was in Alexis' best interest to take responsibility for her small part in this incident and do a little bit of county jail time instead of a lengthy state prison sentence if convicted."
But where does the blame lie? Does the responsibility fall on these young stars, their parents, or our media-obsessed culture? I would argue all three. Kids today grow up in a reality-tv world where it is easy to lose touch with reality. Celebrities are rewarded for bad behavior and seldom face harsh repercussions for their actions.
Hopefully, Alexis’ real-life courtroom drama will send a message that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated. It is time for the young and privileged in Hollywood to realize that they are not invincible from the law. In the real-word, breaking the law is more likely to result in jail time than stardom.