Normally, I would pay absolutely no attention to anything Paris Hilton says, except that her anti-gay meltdown yesterday and her apology today are a perfect example of how the media’s learned to process offense. The hotel heiress found herself in headlines again after a New York taxi driver clandestinely taped her speaking with a friend in a cab, in itself a totally gross thing to do, no matter how gross whatever he captured is. And the exchange between Hilton and her friend is both unattractive and ignorant:
“Say I log into Grindr, someone that’s on Grindr can be in that building and it tells you all the locations of where they are and you can be like, ‘Yo, you wanna fuck?’ and he might be on like, the sixth floor,” the friend explains. “Ewww. Eww. To get fucked?” Hilton replies. “Gay guys are the horniest people in the world. They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS.” “I would be so scared if I were a gay guy,” she adds. “You’ll like, die of AIDS.”
Of course, she’s apologized immediately, releasing a statement through GLAAD:
As anyone close to me knows, I always have been and always will be a huge supporter of the gay community. I am so sorry and so upset that I caused pain to my gay friends, fans and their families with the comments heard this morning. I was having this private conversation with a friend of mine who is gay and our conversation was in no way towards the entire gay community. It is the last thing that I would ever want to do and I cannot put into words how much I wish I could take back every word.HIV/AIDS can hurt anyone, gay and straight, men and women. It’s something I take very seriously and should not have been thrown around in conversation. Gay people are the strongest and most inspiring people I know.
Everyone involved here benefits. Hilton gets herself back in the headlines, and doing something that makes her look comparatively classy: apologizing and praising the resiliency of gay people is an upgrade from getting thrown out of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for smoking pot, or turned away from Japan for drug convictions. GLAAD gets its position as the arbiter of publicly (or in this case, privacy-violated ) expressed speech about LGBT people and its role as a redemption engine reaffirmed. And anyone who falls into the category of people who still care about Paris Hilton’s opinion and felt harmed by her speech gets reassured she doesn’t actually mean it. I suppose it’s a good thing that these mechanisms exist. I just wish the standards for making amends were higher, and produced more meaningful results than publicist-brokered apology statements. If we’re going to make famous people go through the motions of bringing their attitudes in line with what’s publicly acceptable, we might as well get more meaningful commitments or donations of time and energy out of them than that.