Tribeca: Paris Hilton Doc 'The American Meme' Explores Isolation of Fame
In a new documentary exploring society's complex relationship with social media, Hilton reveals why she trusts her fans more than "most people I know" after growing "accustomed to being f—ed over."
Paris Hilton is often credited for inventing the art of being "famous for being famous." But, nearly 15 years after shooting to mainstream stardom thanks to the success of her first reality show, The Simple Life, the hotel heiress is opening up about the dark side of worldwide notoriety: loneliness.
As Hilton explains in Bert Marcus' The American Meme — a new documentary set to premiere at New York's Tribeca Film Festival on April 27 — fame can be an isolating experience.
"I'm constantly traveling; 250 days a year I'm on a plane, in a different country. So it gets really lonely sometimes," she says, adding that she trusts her fans, whom she affectionately calls her "Little Hiltons," more than some of her lifelong acquaintances.
"I love my fans just as much as they love me. I feel closer with them than I do most people that I know," she explains. "They're really like my family."
The socialite-turned-DJ adds: "My parents think I'm crazy. They're always like, 'Why do you let them so into your life? I can't believe you give them your phone number. You're letting them stay at your house. Like, what's wrong with you?'"
But Hilton wouldn't have it any other way. "[My fans] say that watching me go through so much really helped them be stronger," she says of their deep bond. "I'm always trying to be there for them and let them know it's OK to be them."
Indeed, the "Stars Are Blind" singer has powered through a series of public setbacks, including a nonconsenting starring role in her infamous 2004 sex tape, 1 Night in Paris, and a 23-day jail stint in 2007 for violating the terms of her probation by driving with a suspended license. Since then, she's reestablished herself as a global brand, selling everything from perfume and handbags to music.
"I've been through so much in life and I don't really trust people. I've just grown accustomed to being fucked over. With my fans, I don't feel like that at all," says Hilton, who recently got engaged to actor Chris Zylka. "There's not a day that goes by that I'm not either texting or FaceTiming or emailing with my Little Hiltons. I can truly be myself around them. I know they're not judging me, they're not trying to use me. They just genuinely love me."
The American Meme follows Hilton's transition from beloved "It" girl of the early-2000s to certified social media maven, one who currently boasts 8.6 million Instagram followers and counting. The film also features internet personalities Josh Ostrovsky (@thefatjewish), Brittany Furlan (@brittanyfurlan) and Kirill Bichutsky (@slutwhisperer), who struggle to maintain their lives both on and off the 'Gram, as they hustle to monetize their online footprints.