The biggest pop-cultural message of the aughties so far is that smart people bizarrely worship dumb blonds. With the communications explosion bringing savvy to every household, you can’t necessarily feel smarter than the person next to you, but you can enjoy intellectual superiority to a bevy of bimbos and himbos with dark roots instead of gray matter—ding-dongs with a burning taste for fame but no idea whatsoever how to live off-camera (which works out fine because thanks to reality TV, they never are off-camera). Watching these entertaining dull tools act out in relation to their low self-esteem has become a sadistic feel-good experience that has us cheering on the golden-chunked desperation while gleefully handing out more Clairol.
This is nothing new. In the darker recesses of our culture’s consciousness, dumb and blond have always equaled messy, malleable, sexy, and guilt-free. Dumb blonds of both sexes will pleasure you in the backseat and never look up. They’ll let the video of the encounter slip out and feel certain it’ll help your career too. They might not even wince when you return their lost wallet, all emptied out. (It was Daddy’s dough anyway.) No wonder this phenomenon is tawdrily timeless.
But the recent craving for DBs has been so extra-voracious that even some natural blonds have managed to become popular. Millions become aroused watching platinum petunias fall out of limos and onto booze-stained red carpets, while others delight in sitting back and clucking, “There but for the grace of God go . . . aye, aye, aye!” Either way, the dummies win, writhing on to even greater ditzy glory and better salons.
Why now? Partly because women have come so far that the inevitable backlash has men anxious to see them take a giant step in reverse (even if they’re making millions in doing so). Meanwhile, women can feel less envious of successful beauties when these idols are barely able to stand up without puking through their nose jobs. As the ladies get a firmer stronghold on showbiz, the biz responds with, “Fine—as long as we can go back to representing you as hapless and hopeless,” and the jaundiced audience approves and enables.
But now the dimwits are dumbing themselves out of the picture, jumping the shark without even knowing what that means. The backlash has suffered a backlash. A surfeit of pesky peroxide addicts who had face-lifts at age 12 and turned their abortions into handbags has made things so oppressively dumb-tastic that Charlize Theron has to wear boils and a modified babushka to elevate herself from the tragically superficial morass into respectability (though ever a trouper, she bravely still sports luscious blond locks).
I swear on my obsolete Uggs that dumb blonds are, like, officially over. It’s just not cute anymore to watch people who, thanks to raging insecurity issues, insist on being both stick-thin (because they want to look “good”) and camera-hoggingly self-humiliating. The spectacle of boobs popping out, drug dribble leaking out, and vaginas wearing out, all in the name of career advancement, was extremely amusing for a while, but everyone’s too smart to stand by and applaud this sideshow any longer, especially if they can’t get close enough to grab some.
The last time I saw Paris
Come on, someone please lock Paris Hilton up ASAP—get her to a nunnery! Admittedly I’m a fan; the heir-head’s blank-slate quality allows millions to project whatever feelings they want onto her, which has allowed her to soar in every medium imaginable. (Even her book—written without her ever having read one—has gone into multiple printings.) Paris is actually quite slick on talk shows, rising above bad situations with surprising aplomb. But her messy behavior, stemming from an inbred sense of entitlement, has long been tiresome. Paris peaked when she had the nation searching for her missing chihuahua, only to realize she’d left it with Grandma. (But where she left Grandma, no one knows.) When she and blonde co-star Nicole Richie screwed up The Simple Life shootings with a tiny, little hitch—they weren’t talking to one an
other—you wanted to yell, “Wake up, dingbats! It’s all pretend anyway—just speak!” But now I feel that for my sanity’s sake, neither should ever speak again. (By the way, their feud is second in dumb-blond hall of shameness only to Courtney Love heckling Pamela Anderson at the latter’s roast, which may have been a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.)
Gossipeuse Liz Smith tells me she thinks Paris is a cipher, but still a wildly popular one. “I think the power of the old Hilton name has a lot to do with it,” she said, “and that is interesting to me because I began working for society columnist Cholly Knickerbocker back in the day when Hilton still meant something. Times change, but the snob appeal of a lost social climate endures.”
Page Six pooh-bah Richard Johnson agrees that Paris still has it, saying of the blond brigade, “I don’t think they’re so dumb—here we are talking about them—and they aren’t truly blond either. You’ve got to give them credit. Paris looked great for Halloween in a white garter belt. I guess she was a hooker, or a stripper.” She must have left her neurosurgeon costume at Granny’s house.
But this cycle has to end before the blond hair falls out and reveals pinheads. In fact, it’s definitely all-aboard time for the blond reality-show survivors, who should start busing it to one of those New Jersey autograph conventions, along with the fake blind man from the diabetes commercial and the guy who played Chewbacca.
Clawing her way out of the wreckage, Britney Spears was brave enough to let her trailery antics subvert her singing career (says Liz, “Britney can stage a comeback—if she is not required to speak”), while fellow pop princess Jessica Simpson, says Richard Johnson, “is starting to tick people off because she’s a liar, pretending to be happily married to Nick, and getting paid by OK! as some kind of career move.” Telling too much has steeped the blonds in irreversible shit and so has blatant BS’ing,
and as a result, the only sensible blond way to go—I repeat—is racing toward the Garden State with stripped-down boobs and a clenched mouth.
Of course the high-water mark in low living was set by Brit’s and Jess’s predecess-pool Anna Nicole Smith, who staged a comeback by giddily falling apart in public while gamely eyeing the gold. (Quips Liz, “Anna Nicole is a simple girl who accepts the old anatomy-is-destiny proverb. As long as about $500 million is attached to it.”) She’s dumb as a fox—a nouveau Marilyn Monroe, but more death-resistant —and tons of fun, though she’s in for an awakening if she thinks mattress humping and corpse shtupping are soul-fulfilling talents with a future. (Wacky sidebar: I once asked Anna Nicole for her views on feminism and she widened her eyes and replied, “What is that? I never knew what that was.”)
Whether these gals are really dumb or just faking it like their last orgasm, they’ve managed to rise to the top while finding an angel standing there with a giant baseball bat, ready to slam them over their rinsed heads. Even a smart blonde like Martha Stewart slipped off the brain wagon when she felt she was above the law and—even worse—when she started overexposing herself with dueling TV shows. (No, I won’t leave out all the other smart blondes just to prove my thesis. There’s Amy Poehler, Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, and also . . .
um, er, um . . . never mind.)
Bombs make for bombshells
Movie blonds are especially popular during wartime, balmy bombshells inevitably lifting spirits and raising flags. The more the casualties escalate, the better the career chances are for golden-tressed sirens with parted hair and lips. Back in the ’40s, Veronica Lake was a sultry icon with sophisticated bangs and a tart mouth; Lana Turner was so shrewd she survived her boyfriend’s death by her own, I mean her daughter’s, hand; and Marlene Dietrich was a smart woman and a brilliant man.
But so many of today’s blond dummies are only that—windup wildcats with no there there. They’ve given us relief from the Iraq situation, but only in the way a malapropian clown takes you away from the meat of a Shakespeare play. (Dumb-blond response: What’s a Shakespeare play? I never knew what that was.) For example, Cameron Diaz is a winning actor, but In Her Shoes was a box office momentum killer, and offscreen she spends too much time fighting the press about her past or her blond boyfriend Justin Timberlake’s present. Once, I asked her if she’d wear cum in her hair to a certain awards ceremony (admittedly a dumb question). “We’ll see,” she replied, even more weirdly.
Hollywood’s pampered princesses rarely fail to annoy, but even the squeaky-cute kids end up jumping into the fame vortex, checking their minds at the gift bag counter, and falling apart while saying “Cheese!”. The blood-red carpet is littered with the memories of Lindsay Lohan’s wicked ways, the Olsen twins’ bony, homeless chic, and all the other flaws that plague the prematurely processed and eagerly overexposed. And let’s not forget Tara “I’m an Actress” Reid, who fought the press about her party image, then signed on to host an international party and travelogue show. “People are fed up with Tara,” concedes Richard Johnson, “but that’s probably only because she put on weight, became a lush, and lost her hotness.” It’s a tough world that allows you to be a skinny drunk, but not a puffy wannabe recoverer. No wonder the blonds are self-destructing for our nightly delectation.
At least some guys are keeping the gals company at the (un-)happy hour, particularly Brad Pitt, who humiliated his main course by moving in with an overbaked tomato, and Harlow-haired Eminem, whose cheesy family battles and bitter fights with both Moby and a hand puppet proved him to be the kind of wimp-ass extraordinaire he would normally beat up.
But the backlash culminated when Camilla Parker Bowles (the “other woman” in frump’s clothing) dove onto America last week to curry favor with winged hair, and one realized that ill-advised blondness knows no nationality or social rank. Camilla’s acceptance-craving visit provoked a multitude of yawns, cementing the fact that blond is officially as over as a Times Square hooker heading to an outlaw party.
The next step? A rising up of the cultured blonds (Patricia Clarkson) and an embracing of the sane ones (Nicolette Sheridan, Jenna Jameson), but mostly, an appreciation for people who aren’t afraid to lay off the bottle.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 1, 2005