To Perez Or Not To Perez?
June 20, 2007, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I honestly cannot remember how I first stumbled upon celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, apart from the fact that I am an unabashed gossip hound who grew up reading the tabloids. However I happened upon him, my first reaction to his site was mixed. The scoops he dished out were fresh and hot and he was sometimes funny, but I was distracted and annoyed by the little white scribbles and dribbles he drew on the photos. I hesitated to visit his site with any regularity, but continued to drop in from time to time to feed my gossip jones.

As I did so, over time I took notice of his music coverage. Not only did Perez cover the usual suspects such as Beyonce and Madonna, he also championed new artists such as Mika and Amy Winehouse and more established but less commercial ones such as Rufus Wainwright. In other words, he had good taste even if he didn’t always taste good. For me, this transcended the dribbles and I began to visit his site daily to see what he had to say.

Perez has been widely criticized for being vicious and infantile, not to mention playing favorites. These charges may not be entirely without merit, as his attacks on Avril Lavigne and Teri Hatcher sometimes leave me wondering just what he knows about them that he is not reporting. He tends to position himself as a moral critic, as in his biting reportage of the relationship between Kylie Minogue and video director Alexander Dahm (a married man), and consistently in outing celebrities he knows to be gay, such as Lance Bass. This judgemental slant is only slightly mitigated by the site’s disclaimer that identifies the content as gossip and opinions rather than news. Perez believes it is important for gay celebs to identify themselves as such as a means of fighting discrimination, but it could be argued that someone who was truly compassionate about antigay discrimination would give people the space and time to deal with their sexual orientation on their own terms.

Perez has also been charged with bias, for example refusing to publish negative items about Paris Hilton during a phase when the two were reportedly friends and were repeatedly photographed together. In his defense, he has never claimed to be unbiased and objective (more on that later). This admission certainly defuses the charges that he mingles with his subjects and quite openly courts fame, as evidenced by his recent delight regarding his upcoming appearance on The View and his active campaign to be elected to Time Magazine’s list of the most influential people of 2006 (I voted for him, by the way).

Although his celebrity is undeniably rising, I’m sure Perez would be the first to admit that he is in no danger of being confused with Brad Pitt (or Angelina Jolie, for that matter). I don’t blame him for being excited about his success, seeing as two years ago he was a nobody with no connections and now his web site receives well over two million hits a day and he is arguably one of the best-known and most powerful sources of celebrity gossip on the planet. He has reached this point through his own initiative and hard work, developing connections and posting every day almost without fail, as opposed to TV entertainment reporters like Vanessa Minnillo who rely upon established power structures and basically just read from scripts, not to mention fraternizing with their subjects far more intimately than Perez has yet to be accused of.

In addition to what has already been stated above, I approve of this mook partly because he is an independent in an age of media conglomerates. He is comparatively reachable and accountable, given that he blogs from a public spot and can retract an error as fast as he posts it. In his quest for fame, he is also a throwback to the old days of celebrity reporters like Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons, and Rona Barrett, none of whom could be accused of a lack of bias and all of whom are remembered precisely because they were flamboyant and outspoken.

Having said that, here is my open letter to Perez in the stylee of the inimitable Candy Spelling:

Dear Perez,

You made me love you. I didn’t want to do it, and I can’t help feeling a little dirty when I realize I am spending my valuable time looking at pictures of people with little white dribbles coming out of their mouths and vaginas. Babies mature as they give up crawling and learn to walk, and so should you. It would also behoove you to learn to use spell-check and work on becoming a better writer, regardless of how well your sloppiness has thus far been tolerated. With power comes responsibility, and you are now responsible for offering your readers a product commensurate with your level of success.

Speaking of power and responsibility, your actions are subject to the same scrutiny as those of the people you report on. To the extent that you write misleading items and engage in yucky, vindictive powermongering, you damage your credibility and risk charges of the same hypocrisy of which you so readily accuse others. To the extent that you profit from the work of others and refuse to pay them, you look cheap and petty. If you insist upon scrawling “whore” across pictures, take them yourself or pay the people who risk being pelted with baked beans to get them.

I’m sure it’s fun to be famous and get paid for doing what you love and would probably do anyway, but I suspect it will all begin to feel a bit hollow unless you work to strengthen the quality and integrity of your output. Your rapid rise to success shows you are capable of remarkable things, but one hopes it also challenges you to strive to be the very best Perez you can possibly be. If you think about it, I’ll bet the people you admire most are the ones who not only accomplish things but accomplish them well and with the grace and style I suspect you are capable of.



In an odd accident of timing, I am unable to link to some of the items I’d like to because Perez is having technical problems and I cannot access his site. I hope to correct that later, so do check back.

Also, I am still working on my piece on Michael Gorman but should be able to get that up before the end of the week. Thanks to a combination of weather, illness, and the usual interruptions (not to mention my neighbor’s noisy pool pump), it has been particularly hard to concentrate around here.

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