While details of the lifestyles of the formerly rich and famous have started to leak into the news, it has, in many ways, been easy to pretend that the recession was only happening to middle class people. Recently, however, in what is either the most desperate moment of the recession or a sign of the coming apocalypse, the news recently broke that Paris Hilton has been forced to economize.
Just last year, $1,000 omelets, paellas, pizzas and bagels were the order of the day, and New York was reeling in a lifestyle that was disturbingly reminiscent of the end of the Roman empire or the final days of Louis XVI. In time, however, the inevitable end came, along with revelations about outrageous AIG retreats, obscenely expensive office remodelings, ridiculously luxe apartments, and other excesses.
Where investors once fought for Bernie Madoff's financial advice, they now giggle bitterly over his current digs in a jail cell. When his wife ventured meekly into her neighborhood supermarket, photographers were there to immortalize her doe-in-the-headlights moment; the next day, the New York Daily News ran the pics on its front page. Meanwhile, the media has breathlessly captured every detail of Bernie and Ruth's attempts to hold onto the trappings of their previous lives, from their acres in France to their Mets seats in Flushing.
Of course, the Madoff's have only been the whipped cream on this particular class-warfare banana split. The permanent look of shocked horror that Richard Fuld has worn since the fall of Lehman Brothers has offered some cold comfort to people who are now looking for jobs, and the news that he has had to liquidate his extensive art collection has, perhaps, proved that there is justice in the universe.
However, for an entire generation of people, the ultimate face of self-indulgent outrageous wealth is Paris Hilton. This, after all, is the talentless poster girl for plastic surgery who managed to eke out four years of TV stardom merely by subjecting herself to the indignities of...ugh...The Simple Life. However, not content with merely being another incredibly pampered pretty face, Hilton has gamely sought fame as a model, actress, singer, fashion designer and scofflaw.
Still, when economic misery reared its ugly head, Paris answered the call. Earlier this year, she solemnly vowed to do her part to save the economy by shopping as much as possible. The idea was that, by spreading her money far and wide, the dazzling Ms. Hilton might help America turn the tide against economic decay. At the same time, she also promised to only buy clothes created by American designers, thereby guaranteeing that the wealthy-heroin-addict and 12-year-old-Chinese-sweatshop-worker segments of the global economy would keep chugging along.
Shopping therapy stimulus aside, the recession has stubbornly persisted and now appears to be lapping at the shores of Paris Hilton Land. According to a recent report, season 2 of Paris Hilton's My New BFF is having to economize. Following a 10% budget cut, the popular reality show will now be working out of a less glamorous mansion, and will not be able to fund trips to New York and Tokyo. The sacrifice is almost too much to bear.
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