This will probably come as a complete surprise, but there's some salty language in this episode. From London. I'm Brooke Zimpher. And I'm Erica Skidmore Williams. And this is even the rich over the last four episodes, we tracked the rise and slow fade of Paris Hilton, the original influencer. I wonder if I could be an influencer. I have very strong opinions about sunsets and hair growth, vitamins. I know you do share.
So one of the ideas that kept coming up in our series about Paris is that the media was really, really cruel to her.
Yeah, they'd never get away with talking about her that way. No, definitely not. When Paris was just becoming the IT girl we know and love, the tabloid industry was a lot different than it is now. Back then, slut shaming women in magazine headlines was just part of the business model, but thankfully, things have mostly changed. We're a lot smarter about how we talk about women now. Yes, the future is female, baby. It definitely is.
But we didn't get there overnight. And we're going to talk to none other than Lenny Louie about how and why that happened. Lainie is a co-anchor on TV's Eatock, co-host of The Social and founder and editor of Lini Gossip Dotcom, which has been around since the simple life was still on the air.
Then we'll be talking to Alexandra Dean, the director of the documentary This is Paris, to find out what it was like to see the impact of that cruelty up close. And we'll talk about how Paris, a woman we all thought we knew, is more complicated than we ever imagined. There's literally so much to cover. Yes. And I cannot wait. This episode is brought to you by CarMax, learn more about the new love your car guarantee from CarMax at CarMax Dotcom finding the right car takes time.
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You can be anyone. Some people use that power to become who they wish they were. But what happens when their little lies harm other people? MTV and one represent Catfish, the podcast hosted by award winning filmmaker Neve Schulman Catfish. The podcast exposes the truth and lies of online dating. Subscribe on Apple podcast Spotify or wherever you're listening now. Hi, Leanne, thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for having me. So before we dive in, can you just introduce yourself to our audience?
What is Leanne gossip all about? Oh, lady, gossip is about celebrity gossip, we hope online gossip to have bigger discussions about ourselves, our social culture, through the lens of celebrity. But yeah, it's about celebrities, what they're up to, who they're dating, what they're working on, what they're not working on, what they're doing on social media, all the juicy stuff, basically.
Yeah. So as you know, we've just wrapped up our series about Paris, the Ogie influencer. She basically taught impressionable millennials. They could be famous for being famous, but that would have never happened if we as a culture weren't also obsessed with her. So I want to start by asking, why do you think that was like what was it about Paris that we just could not look away from?
I think one of the most critical things about Paris initially was Paris the heiress. We all know the name Hilton. We've all seen it. A lot of us have stayed there. So it's just such a recognizable last name. And so immediately we all understand if this is someone from the Hilton family, one hundred percent, it's established. This is not a fraud heiress. This is not a make believe heiress from a pretend country in Europe.
And I think that that immediate name recognition think about how long celebrities take to build up, like build up name recognition, brand recognition. She won like she immediately had it. And I think that that is key to it. And then this idea of who heiresses are, I mean, there have been stories written about heiresses for hundreds of years. So there's just something there is there is something titillating about an heiress who then she shows up and she kind of physically fits a lot of your preconceived, traditional old school notions of attractiveness.
She's tall, she's blonde, she's slender. So all of that in a package was really did we actually is this real was invented. And then she steps out and she actually exists. And I think that is the that is one of the keys to Paris Hilton's immediate popularity.
Well, so it feels like twins online culture was especially cruel towards young women. I mean, in our series on Paris, we talked a lot about how much the media really seemed to enjoy taking her down. And in our series about Britney Spears, Britney received very similar treatment. What do you think was happening back then that made it so commonplace and acceptable to tear down women in the spotlight?
Well, I always say that celebrity gossip is a reflection of who collectively, socially we were at the time. And so it it wasn't just the media, it was all of us. And of course, there are exceptions, people who were more enlightened, people who are smarter, kinder for sure. They weren't the mainstream, though. And I would argue that the majority of people. Yes. Had this mindset, me included. I have to totally.
Oh, not with Britney especially. And it's also worth noting that there are things that were said in the mid 2000s about people like Paris that would not be acceptable today. Right. But. You'd be called out on Twitter today, people would try and counsel you for it today, but back then. Nobody was canceled or called out for it, and it's not just because Twitter wasn't around yet, it's because the baseline of what our behavior was collectively that was OK.
And so it's like a time capsule. When you study Paris, as you have you've been doing in this episode, you're also going back and looking at a time capsule of acceptable forms of behavior as important as they are now. That was collectively what was not just tolerated, but accepted. Is it shameful on the part of those of us who participated? Again, calling myself out for sure. But I think the added layer and understanding the nuance of this conversation is how widely almost embraced it was.
And for us to interrogate that and reflect on it. Yeah. Yeah. Now, as you mentioned, you you covered Paris back in the day. And I'm I'm going to quote this really amazing quote from your fake U.S. and you say, I started this blog in the early 2000s at a time when snacking on celebrities in a performative, cruel way on the Internet was part of the online culture. I thrived on and fed into that culture. Did you feel pressure to participate in that cruelty for your site to be successful?
I wouldn't say I felt pressure. I don't think I can let myself off the hook that way. In fact, I would actually characterize it as reinforcement. So, you know, if you compare it to a little kid keeps doing something and everybody claps, you want to do it more because that they love that reaction. And so that's more how I would describe it. I think saying it was pressure would would actually be too easy to be totally honest and to really face the shame of it is it felt good that there was an audience that embraced it and felt the same way.
Which goes back to my previous point about how collectively we saw the world and behaved and the things we were allowed to say. Right, definitely now, Lannie, gossip wasn't the only site that's re-evaluated how it covered celebrities. Remember Perez Hilton was he made a big show of saying that his site would be more kind and an appearance on Ellen back in 2010. Why do you think snark fell out of favor?
I think that snark fell out of favor as a byproduct of all of us having bigger and more aware conversations about who we are and who we were hurting. Right. So I think that as our awareness was growing about these conversations about celebrities which trickled down and hurt people who aren't celebrities and being led into the light, if you will, by the knowledgeable people, the ones who did foresee all of this, the ones who didn't want to participate in all of this, we we pushed it out of favor.
We agreed or many of us who participated in that in the past were like, yeah, that's not cool anymore. It's you know, not that it's just not cool, but there's a better way to talk about celebrities where we can all grow together.
Yeah. So then what does the gossip coverage about Paris Hilton both back in the day and now in 2021, what does that tell us about how our attitudes to women have changed or stayed the same?
Well, I think the first way it shows us things have changed is our conversation about women and sex sexuality agency Paris Hilton and so many other women were slut shamed. And I I think that the conversations about women in sex have certainly been much more progressive in the last decade. So that's one lens. That said, I think that for sure, as difficult of a time that Paris had and other women, too, had about sex, Paris also was part of a circle in Hollywood that was criticized and snark, Don, for their party lifestyle.
They were clubbing every night. They knew that people were watching them and they didn't mind. In fact, they encouraged it. And it was this portrayal, presentation of excess and and look at us where the specials, you know, that that a lot of people bristled against and criticized. And I don't think that necessarily we need to take that back. We can have more layered conversations about it for sure.
But I don't think that we have to toss all of the criticism around at that time out for sure. A lot of it. But I, I think that is worthy of interrogation as well.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, you know, you just kind of mentioned this, that Paris did actively court the paparazzi. I mean, as much as they tormented her, she also needed them to stay relevant. So in the time before social media, what was the relationship between the tabloids and celebrities really like?
There are for sure like tabloids back then or there were for sure tabloids back then who were like fabricating stories and should be, you know, obviously called out for their meanness.
But at the same time, what's tricky about this conversation, and it's why I don't think you can take celebrities complaining about the tabloids at face value, their people or often themselves would feed the tabloid stories. And that still happens today. Leaks still happen today. Right. And they may be leaking to different tabloids. They may be leaking to different like media. They might be leaking to Instagram and and not US Weekly, but they're still leaking. So the impact of celebrities and their teams leaking things to the media is continuing and has continued.
So when you want to talk about the 2000s and the relationship between celebrities and the tabloids, of course, there were problems that were not caused by the celebrities themselves. But celebrities provided content willingly as well, including Paris, including the circle that Paris ran in and more. Yeah.
So despite her fame in the early 2000s, Paris never seemed to really make the leap to social media in the way that a lot of other celebrities did. I mean, social media was all about showing your authentic self, but Paris kept performing. How much longer do you think her refusal to open up online led to her kind of fading away?
I you see, I'm not sure there was a was there a refusal to open up online or was like there just not enough space for her? You know what? I sort of look at the Paris Hilton timeline and, you know, the when exactly she faded away.
You have to remember in 2007, a little show called Keeping Up with the Kardashians premiered, it launched with essentially six women.
So actress Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kylie Kendall, is that six anyway? I mean, a lot, right? So, yeah. So that the Kardashians took up so much space and they were on it with social media immediately. So when you think about it, I don't know if it's accurate that, you know, Paris didn't participate in social media. I, I wonder whether or not even if she participated harder and tried harder, whether or not anybody would have noticed because of the rise of the Kardashians, like everything Paris had been doing, the Kardashians were doing a good point.
Better and quicker and smarter. You want to set up paparazzi photos, boom.
They're there before you even think about it, that they're you want skin, you want sexiness, you want new hairstyles. You want new boyfriends, you want divorces, you want quick divorces. You want babies. You you want you want plastic surgery. Right. Exactly. So what room was there for parents?
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So we talked in our series about Paris's documentary, This Is Paris, and the way it allowed her fans to finally peek behind her celebrity persona. Why do you think she chose that venue to finally open up instead of taking that into her own hands on, let's say, social media?
I think there's something really interesting about having a filmmaker capture. That narrative, instead of Harris driving it herself, you know, a lot of the criticism about shows like reality shows and she was you know, she became famous because of the simple life. Right. And then the criticism is that it's scripted that they're kind of fabricating feuds and fabricating drama in order to make people care. And so with Paris, there has always also been that narrative. Is it real?
She came up in a reality show. Is she manipulating the story? So when you hand your story over to a documentarian or to a documentary film where in theory they tell stories in pursuit of the truth, then I think it lends a certain gravitas to it. And it was smart of her to do that.
Yeah, I'm wondering how common it is for celebrities to put their image in someone else's hands. I feel like it's kind of a big deal for Paris to give final cut privileges to her director like that.
I agree. I don't think it happens often at this point. Like, she's quite young still, right? I mean, she's you know, I think it happens more regularly when someone is, you know, in the twilight of their career, near the end of their career, when they've been doing this for a long time, they don't have anything left to lose. So I think what's interesting is that she's doing it at this point where she may be kind of launching a comeback.
Right. And and yet on the other side of that, maybe that is the key to the comeback, to be like, oh, I want to differentiate between the previous era where, yeah, some of it was contrived, maybe a lot of it was contrived. And the new era when this is not contrived, this is me. Yeah, yeah, you know, it's interesting because it used to be that if celebrities wanted to break some big, serious news about themselves, they would go to the news.
You know, I'm thinking of situations like Charlie Sheen revealing his HIV status on The Today show or, you know, Twiggs detailing the abuse and her relationship with Qalibaf to The New York Times. A documentary kind of runs the risk of being seen as a vanity project. What do you think some of the pros and cons are of these different approaches for celebrities in 2021?
Well, I will say with FCCC Twiggs, I think one of the reasons why she chose to do it through The New York Times is because social media has been so toxic for her, which she has also talked about recently on the Grounded podcast. She talked about how even before Shilov, when she was engaged to Robert Pattinson, his fans were just so racist and so negative about their relationship. And she said in so many words, I'm paraphrasing.
She said, you know, he was their prince and maybe he he was expected to be with a princess in the very conventional status quo, old school way, someone from the same background. And I didn't fit in. And so for her, if she would have released her statement on social media, the way a lot of people released their statements, she's opening herself up to that kind of mess, that kind of ugliness.
And so I agree like that the the the conventional way that she did it, The New York Times, the paper of record was a solid move. I think that with someone like Paris doing a documentary, what are the pros and the cons? The pros are, yeah, that sense of gravitas.
If you work, you're working with a respected filmmaker who who's telling the story in a in a way that is objective. I think that is all great. The cons are. It's always going to be the con when you're a celebrity, because you know the consumer, we the public, we're so sophisticated now and cynical, I think we are quite cynical. We're always going to raise our eyebrows and be like, what's in it for you? Right. And I think, though, that what is messy and interesting about that question is a lot of that was caused by celebrities themselves, like Paris and the Kardashians, where we can never take what they say at face value because they taught us that.
Right. It becomes like it may I always mix up my, like, expressions, but it becomes like the snake eating its tail. Right. That kind of situation. And so I think that is always going to be something you encounter if you're a celebrity.
Yeah, definitely. You know, something I'm really curious about is why Paris decided that now was the time to make this pivot. I mean, we're still in the middle of a pandemic and people are feeling very Josquin guillotine about celebrities right now. So then why was 20/20 the year for her to try to make a comeback?
Maybe. OK, my theory and I think that I don't necessarily think that this is a criticism. One of the things I've always wished that Paris would reveal more about herself is that she actually is quite a savvy businesswoman. Right. And it all goes back to and I'm sure you have addressed this already, the two voices, literally, you know, she would talk in a baby talk voice in public, but then her real voice is quite deep and she doesn't speak in a juvenile way.
And I imagine that that deeper voice is the voice that she uses when she's running her perfume empire and all her brands where she makes a lot of money. And I've always wondered I've always wished that Paris would show me that boss side of herself.
Yeah. Anyway, my point that I'm setting up is that she's savvy. She may have been through some shitty things and we for sure can have sympathy for her, but we can also understand that this is somebody who's a strategic business person. And so I wonder strategically if she was like, you know what, they're making a movie called Promising Young Woman? I know this because they must have asked me for the rights to my song Stars are Blind. And Carey Mulligan's in this movie.
It did great at Sundance. And I know it's going to be well-received, or at least it'll spark a conversation. My song plays at a key point in the movie. In fact, like the scene may have even been written around the song and she would know this, right? They would have had to go to get the rights. So I wonder. Yeah, and this is a part cynicism, part admiration. If she was like, you know what?
Now's the time. Now is the time. Let me capitalize on that. That would be my theory. I don't know. But I'm using my experience to speculate there.
OK, so switching gears a little bit. So over the summer, you did a great interview with Aminatta. So over it, call your girlfriend and you talked a little bit about how gossip can serve an important social function. You credited Whisper Networks gossip with bringing down Harvey Weinstein. Can you explain more about how gossip can be useful in our lives?
Yeah, I. I will point you to Bridgton.
Oh, man, you know, because I think that so relevant, so it's so much easier for me to point to something that I think a lot of people are watching and how women how gossip was destructive in some ways in in the lives of those fictional characters. But if you remember, they reclaimed it. Right? There were several moments in Bridgton where the women reclaimed gossip so that they could advance their their own agenda and protect themselves. And that is the power of gossip.
So for our times, real times, not fictional, old timey times, I think when we're talking about celebrities and we're gossiping about what they're doing, who they're seeing, what they're up to, we can choose to do it in a deeper, more constructive way.
I think that our conversations about Harry Styles and Olivia Wilde, while fun because, you know, unexpected pairing superhit together, everybody wants to know on a surface level, there are definitely conversations we can have here about fidelity, our attitudes towards relationships, age difference in relationships and how how we why it is that we decide.
I an older woman with a younger man, but not necessarily an older man with younger woman. And so I think that we can make an active choice when we're gossiping to to do it responsibly, but also to do in a way that contributes to bigger conversations about, you know, culturally how how we expect others to behave and and hope and how we hope they they can be on side. Yeah, yeah, definitely. So now I can imagine that documenting celebrities for so long has probably changed how you think about them.
Most people think they want to be famous, but when you actually start telling their stories, being famous honestly sounds horrible. Where do you stand on that? Would you ever want to be Paris level famous?
Fuck no know. Well, tell us how you really feel. You know what, though? I will say that I was never going to happen, but if I was level famous now at my age, I do think I'd be able to handle it better, which is a very famous George Clooney quote. Right. Like he has always said that he floundered when he was in, you know, in time in his life when he was making mistakes and could have been in the tabloids a lot more for a lot of his fuckups.
But he wasn't. And he got famous in his thirties when he was a fully formed person who had made most of his most egregious mistakes out of the spotlight and had formed a circle of people are formed a network around him that he could trust. So I'm I'm setting this up to talk about, you know, when people get famous nowadays, it seems like it's younger and younger, like we don't really have many George Clooney now who become mega monster movie stars in their 30s.
And we're not really paying attention to them when they are in their teens and 20s these days. Everybody starts early. And so I think that is what is so scary and so fascinating about fame, because nobody is a stranger to the dark side of fame. We have heard the stories, we've seen the stories, the tragedies, really. And yet for as many people who know about the reality of fame, there are so many people probably listening to this podcast driving their kids to auditions.
And or or encouraging their kids to YouTube themselves and and writing followers or tick tock themselves, whatever. And so I think that is what is so amazing about fame, that it has this quality where it can actually show you its reality like it is totally honest. If fame was a person, it would say, hi, how are you? I'm going to fuck you up. And you would still be like, you're so beautiful. Let's go to bed.
Yeah, right. Yeah, definitely.
And that is what is. Yeah, I think that's why our collective and together relationship with fame is so complicated too, because we know it and we participate in it. We feed into it. We criticize it. Can't stop. Yeah. So.
Mm hmm. It's kind of like that thing they say about your development being frozen at the time you become famous. And we're talking about parents, you know, letting their kids, you know, attempt to be YouTube stars or tick tock stars or whatever. Do you think we should have more protections for kids against being pushed into the spotlight? Oh, well, I that's a big question, I don't know if I can actually come down on one side.
It's the one of the few questions that. It's like Beyonce or Rihanna. I don't know. I don't know because I do think that there are some people who are truly gifted. I mentioned both Beyonce and Rihanna, who both started very early, like Beyonce was on Star Search, right.
She was a baby. And Nana was, I think, 15 or so when she was first discovered. So are we actually saying, like, if we put your you know, what you you posited should we just put some regulations in place? Should we stop it? If we did, then would would we have deprived ourselves of Beyonce and Rihanna? Like, what would our world be? So I that's why I can't answer that question, because I do think, yes, it has damaged so many people.
And yet there are some children who are undeniable mega supernova talent. Yeah. And I and the world is better for them. True, very good point. Now in the stories we've told on our show about Britney, Paris, Princess Diana, the press is almost always the villain. They're relentless, hounding these women and not letting them even have one little iota of privacy.
But then it's like we're also the press, right? So this has been something that's been on my mind. And I'd love your advice. How can we make sure we're not part of the problem?
Hmm. Wow, that's a I I think the three of us, we are the press, but we are also entertainment and pop culture consumers. Yeah. So it's an and when you're a consumer of anything, be it like food and I don't know, like products, we're all trying to train ourselves to be more responsible. Where did that you coat come from? What did it come from a responsibly made factory or did it come from a sweatshop?
Right. So so I think that when we consume entertainment, it's the same thing. It's it's my engaging with this person's art in a way that is healthy. I listen to their music. I'm watching their movies. There are certain celebrities who do only want you to engage with them on that basis. They are they're not telling you about the personal lives. Right. There are some celebrities who can actually go and have a baby and you don't know about it and you don't know the name of the baby, right?
Yes. So it's with celebrities like that, I'm like, OK, well, I don't want to know about your baby anyway. And and and I'll just but I'll love your movies and I'll go see your movies. And so, yeah, I think it helps to take it on a case by case basis and actively keep asking like, hey, wait a minute, you know, are you did that movie, but did you need to like, show me this on Instagram and.
Sure, it's it's your job. You can show me whatever you want on Instagram, but like, I kind of have follow up questions. So I think it's a case by case basis. And I hope that we've gotten sophisticated enough, especially those of us who consume celebrity online, where we can see which celebrities are engaging us with us in those ways. Taylor Swift is a really good example of, you know, letting something out, not being able to rein it in, or at least now trying to, you know.
Yes, for sure. A lot of what was said about Taylor is unfair, but at the same time, she kind of toyed with us. Right. She kind of toyed with us in terms of like caring about her love life, the paparazzi photos, the clues that she leaves for her fans to find out who certain people like are, all of that. And then she decided to shut it all down. Her relationship with Joe Allen has been, like, super secretive and she gives really nothing about that.
And so over time, like even though I care a lot about Taylor Swift, she's one of the biggest stars in the world. I kind of am like, oh, yeah, you're with that guy.
OK, so I think we have to get more sophisticated about reading like those celebrity tea leaves.
Yeah, definitely waning. It was so much fun to have you on the show. Thank you for joining us. So, Ereka, do you have, like a favorite nighttime ritual before bed? Actually, I took your advice and started listening to that meditation thing on Netflix, and it's been incredible helping my sleep. Yeah, it's really relaxing. And also, you and I have another secret to the best night's sleep ever. Oh, you're talking about our mattresses for Maura, aren't you?
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Alex directed the documentary. This is Paris. And we're going to talk to her about her experiences making the film and what we can learn when we start treating celebrities like, well, real people.
Hi, Alex. Thank you so much for being here with us today. Hi. Thanks for having me. Yeah, of course.
So we just did a four part series about Paris on our show. And one of the things that really struck me was just how cruel the media was to her. They didn't know what to do with her if it wasn't a punch line. But your film asks viewers to go against all of that conditioning and actually take Paris seriously. So I want to start by asking, what made you decide to take Paris seriously?
Mm. I had just made another film when I started this one, and it was about Hedy Lamarr, who was this 1930s actress, who was very scandalous, you know, in a lot of ways like Paris that our culture hadn't taken seriously because she did the first orgasm on film in 1933. And so that was on my mind that there was this gorgeous woman who had done this orgasm on film and never been taken seriously again and had secretly invented the basis for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and GPS as we use it today, and never been credited because we couldn't take her seriously.
Right. And so that was on my mind. And I was wondering, who else are we not taking seriously? Who else are we embracing? And when Paris and I reached out to me to have a conversation, Paris immediately said to me, I really relate to Hedy Lamarr in your documentary. I really relate to her feeling of being erased and not seen. And that made me perk up.
Yeah. So did you have impressions of Paris before you met her that changed over the course of filming this documentary?
Oh, absolutely, yes. You know, I think I felt like every other young girl who'd grown up in America or in my case in the U.K., but it's all the same, you know, seeing Paris splashed across every single magazine, you know, at the hairdresser growing up and wondering, like, who was this girl that the American press was so obsessed with? She wasn't a well-known actress. You know, she didn't have any other job that I knew of.
She was an heiress. And I don't think I'd ever seen anything like that in the American press. So I was a little bit fascinated and a little bit perplexed and probably a little edgy, too, you know, like everyone else. Like, why do we care right now?
You know, we're all familiar with Paris, the character. But your film is much more focused on Paris, the person. How different are those two? Paris?
You know, I think that Paris, the character in Paris, the person, are kind of a spectrum now because the two have bled into each other for her. When you've been playing a character for so many years, it does partly become your identity. And then there's clearly a Paris that she was as a child who is just completely divorced and separated from that character. So you see that parents emerge from time to time.
And the whole time I was filming, it was kind of this extraordinary experience of seeing that, you know, younger Paris at different Paris kind of emerge or peek out from behind the mask and talk to me and then retreat, you know, and I think it's not unusual for trauma victims to be like that. Yeah, definitely.
So for listeners who haven't seen your documentary, it's very much a story about trauma. I mean, Paris spent 11 months at a physically and emotionally abusive boarding school for troubled teens. And Paris, the person coped with that trauma by creating Paris, the character. Was that something Paris already knew about herself or was she actively making that connection while you were filming?
Yeah, she was making that connection while we were filming. Wow. It was a really interesting thing. So Paris really reminded me when I met her. Paris really reminded me of my own sister. I have this older sister who's very opposite from me. I'm the super nerd in the family and she is very, very beautiful and, you know, created this enormous response when she went out in public. And, you know, we were just opposites when she was growing up.
She was a rebel and she ended up in an institution sort of locked up for several years. And I had this enormous impact on my childhood and my own understanding of how our society treats women and treats beauty and and sees us. And it's all I've thought about in many ways, you know, since then. Now I'm in my 40s and I look back at my work and it's always about that, you know, women, beauty, power, sexuality, what does it mean?
And when I met Paris, I felt like I recognized her. She was so much like my sister. And I recognized these same signs of some trauma, like my sister had gone through with institutional abuse that she had experienced. And I immediately started to wonder, what did Paris go through? Why does she exhibit these same signs somehow?
So that takes us to a scene towards the end of the film where Paris is in her closet and she's just met with other survivors from that boarding school and she's clearly really shaken. We're going to play that clip real quick.
Sometimes I feel like so many things, but sometimes like this robot and this character that I did and that talking with like I try to remember who I was before.
I just I don't know. It makes me sad they took that away and that was a really hard moment to watch. What was it like for you, Alex, having spent months with her already to be there for her? Did you ever just give her a hug or is that not how it works?
What a great question. You know, when you spend time like this with a person that you're kind of documenting. It's a really difficult thing as a journalist because, of course, you get close to them. Of course you feel for them. Of course you're human, you know, and when they reach out, you have to respond. But at the same time, you're a journalist. Brain is always working. You know, you're telling a story.
You're crafting a narrative. You're trying to make sure that the narrative is true and not something you're projecting onto the person. So you're always listening and responding and pivoting. And so that brain's going on. And then there's other brain that's just fighting it, you know, trying to shut it down because that other brain is saying this human being needs help, this human being needs a hug, this human being needs a sister. And yeah, I had to navigate that constantly with this, especially since she reminded me so much of my sister.
And that dynamic came so easily to us. At the end of the film, you know, we had already gone through this enormous journey together, you know, starting with Paris, starting to be honest about these nightmares she was going through when we were in South Korea. And we start to sort of stay up at night and really talk. And then slowly, slowly, we started to break down that this had to do with the school she'd gone to.
And we started to talk about what that experience was.
But you never know when you're interviewing someone if, you know, I'm peeling those layers of their psyche. But that is going to result in a in a good. Reaction, you hope it does, right, like a therapist, you hope it does, but you don't know. And so at the end I was full of this sense of what is this? What is this going to what what what change is this going to create in Paris's mindset, if any?
And we were in the middle of filming with all of these survivors that had gone to the school with Paris. Yeah. And she suddenly ran upstairs. Right. And she sort of signaled to me and I ran off to her with my shitty little camera and my terrible dark lens. And I didn't even signal to the DP because I didn't know what was going on. And it didn't register to me that this was the moment she was going to have an epiphany.
I had no idea. I was just running after her trying to understand what's going on. I actually thought she wanted to ask me something. Usually it was like, you know, do I need to do something with my hair, you know? Yeah. Be that simple. If so, I ran into the closet to be like, Yeah, what is it? And she was just pacing, crying. And then she just started having this revelation on camera.
But yeah, it was it was emotional even like for me just watching it. So I can't imagine being there with her in those moments that she was actually grappling with it in the moment.
Now, you mentioned therapy and Paris has talked about not feeling safe with therapists because of Provo Canyon. Did you feel like making this documentary was therapy for Paris?
Yeah, yeah. It became clear very early on that we were doing a sort of an ad hoc therapy unintentionally, but it was happening. And I knew that partly because my sister is also going through some light therapy right now to deal with her own PTSD. Yeah, and I speak to her frequently about it. And when I first started working with Paris and I started noticing these same signs of trauma, of course, the first thing I said to her when the cameras were off as a human was, why don't you go get some therapy?
You know, my sister has this great therapist and allow you to go see her. She does MVR therapy is really working. And Paris said to me, absolutely not. I will never do that. Therapists are part of my trauma over time that came. And she didn't say that initially. She just said she didn't like therapists. But over time it came out that this she had a phobia of therapists. And that's when I realized why I shouldn't have a kind of impact this before and that there was so much to unpack that we needed to do.
So we know that Paris gave you final cut of the film, and it's actually been reported that she considered asking you not to include the scene where she gets in a fight with her boyfriend, Alex, before her set at Tomorrowland.
Can you tell our listeners why you thought it was important to include that part of her story? What what information do you feel like that gave us about Paris that would have been missing otherwise?
For me, that scene is the first time you see Paris really put down her foot line in the sand. Yeah, I say I will not be treated this way anymore. And I found that as a woman, I found that incredibly exciting to see. Yeah, me too. And the interesting thing is when I was editing it, it was a real Rorschach test because people would come in and say, it may be like, oh, you're showing her being, you know, real big, you know?
And I was like, really? That is not what I see. Right. I it's really not how I read the scene. I read the scene. As you know, this girl is being harassed by this boyfriend, having his own mini breakdown partially because she's got this big moment and she's moving away from him onto the stage in front of all these people. She's moving into this moment. That's such a big deal in her life. And he, you know, can't seem to accept that is kind of asking her to pay him attention and to make him the center of her narrative.
Right. Yeah. He needs to make himself in this moment. Right. So for like all the women watching and felt like it was an incredibly important scene.
Yes. It made me think of The Devil Wears Prada and how nowadays we all shit on Nate, rightfully so, for trying to ruin an Hathaways career. And it's just like Paris is out there. This is the biggest performance. And Alex is like, let me make this about me. And this really. Yeah, I just pay it for so long. We are it's like men can tell women to, like, focus on them, prioritize. And it's like this is her career.
This is what she wants to do. So thank you for doing it.
I thought that was right. Thanks. Yeah, I thought it was great too.
Well, Alex, that's all we have for today. Thank you so much for taking some time and chatting with us. The we both watch the documentary and loved it. It was loved. It really great. Watch. Yeah. Thank you so much.
Thanks again to Lainey Lui from Lainez Gossip Dotcom and to director Alexandra Deen. You can find her documentary. This is Paris on YouTube. OK, so we promised that after Paris we were going to push this story even further.
Starting next week, we'll be looking at the next celebrities to perfect the art of how to be famous for being famous, the Kardashians. We're going to break the Internet, baby, OK?
Except I hope we don't, because then no one will be able to download the episode. OK, OK, fair enough. But we will be doing a deep dive on the lessons Kim learned from Paris, the show that made her a household name, and the manager who made it all happen.
Oh, Brooke, you're doing amazing, sweetie. Now, guys, if you like our show, please give us a five star rating and a review and be sure to tell your friends subscribe on Apple podcast, Spotify, the Wonder App or wherever you're listening right now. Join hundred plus in the wandering app to listen ad free and catch a fun bonus segment where we get Lainez to play a simple life trivia game with us.
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And I'm Brooke Separate.
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