From a little less than a year, from December 2008 to October 2009, a string of high profile robberies stunned the Hollywood community. Unlike other crime strikes that tend to target particular a particular neighborhood or area, these criminals preyed on celebrities. Their victims include Paris Hilton, Megan Fox, Brian Austin Green, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, and Audrina Patridge to name a few.
Utilizing the same tools that have made privacy essentially extinct, these criminals executed break-ins that resulted in the acquisition of millions of dollars of loot. Unlike common thieves with guns or knives, these wannabe-celebrities used TMZ, the paparazzi, and Google Maps as their weapons. By monitoring when stars would leave their homes, and mapping out their residences via mapping websites and satellite imaging, they plotted their targets out, and in many cases, entered homes that were often kept unlocked or without any security.
Along with predictable items such as jewelry and expensive electronics, the items the “Bling Ring” stole reveal a lot about their motives. Rachel Lee, the 19-year-old alleged mastermind of the ring, tried on Paris’ clothing, slipped on Lindsay’s shoes, and burned to feel what it was like to take a few steps in a famous person’s life. According to Vanity Fair, others, like Roy Lopez, a 27 year old accomplice “allegedly stole close to $2 million worth of [Paris’] jewelry” and Nick Prugo, who claims to have “found about, like, five grams of coke in Paris’ house.” While Paris’ team denies the validity of this statement, after finding this alleged drug stash, Prugo says that he and Lee snorted it and “drove around Mulholland, having the best time of [their] lives.”
It was to be short-lived. After bragging about their crimes on Facebook and being caught on various video cameras (including an infamous tape that many believed to implicate Lindsay Lohan in breaking into her own home), the criminals felt the walls closing in on them. By November 2009, Nick Prugo confessed to the crimes, and the five other suspects were quickly apprehended.
The sad story about fame-obsessed wannabes desperate for attention should have ended there. But it didn’t. Tonight, E! will premiere its newest reality series, Pretty Wild. After a contestant on a VH1 reality show was revealed to be a murderer late last year, you would think the standards for what’s acceptable behavior on television would have changed. You’re wrong. E!, known for salacious series about wannabe celebrities, famous for absolutely nothing besides their ability to pose for the camera, has based its newest series on Alexis Neiers. Alexis, coincidentally, happens to be one of the six indicted criminals in the Bling Ring.
Rather than cancel production on the series, E!, that standard-bearer of classiness, has instead moved forward with it, and integrated the court drama into the series. So now, the girl who was so desperate for fame that she terrorized those who had it, may now finally get her wish. The only thing more disgusting is that her mother, Andrea Arlington Dunn, is not only fine with this, but she is happy to promote it. In the March 2009 issue of Vanity Fair, Alexis, Andrea, and Alexis’ “sister” (they aren’t really related) Gabrielle, posed for photos in stilettos, clutching giant purses and accessory-sized dogs. Undoubtedly, if this show is successfully (and given E’s track record with semi-celebrities, it seems it will be), they will soon be on the covers of supermarket tabloids and the homepage of gossip blogs all over the world.
I would be naive to imagine that in a society so obsessed with fame and celebrity, people wouldn’t be interested in a story full of drugs, sex, and crime. But at some point a line needs to be drawn. Right? Maybe I’m being too old-fashioned in my belief that criminal behavior shouldn’t be advocated on a network that targets a demographic already prone to emulate the rich and famous. If that’s the case, then I guess I can only hope that Alexis Neiers will soon be sentenced to some serious jail time to prevent her from staying in the news. After all, there are no cameras or paparazzi in prison – as long as E! doesn’t decide that prisoners would make for better TV than mere suspects.
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