Paris Hilton was detained on Friday, July 2 in South Africa on charges of possession of marijuana. Although she appeared in court, companion Jennifer Rovero was the one to offer the guilty plea after which South African authorities apologized to Ms. Hilton.
It’s certainly possible that Paris is innocent. She is not her BFF’s keeper, and Ms. Rovero may have been the only one digging the “dagga” (a South African term for marijuana). But celebrities who find their names linked to bad behavior in the news are often the very ones who travel with a sizeable entourage on whom any spare blame can be laid. Such coincidences require a healthy dose of skepticism.
Remember Lindsay Lohan’s infamous claim in 2007 that she had no idea how the small amount of cocaine in her pants could have gotten there, despite the fact that she was wearing the pants at the time? Although Lohan is regrettably familiar with pantslessness, she was wearing a SCRAM bracelet at the time the cocaine was found. (Yes, this is her second time wearing a SCRAM device.)
Have you ever tried to remove tight jeans with a SCRAM bracelet around your ankle? Well, me neither, but Lindsay probably does. Yet somehow that stuff just found its way into her pocket even though she didn’t take her clothes off all evening. Imagine that!
Khloe Kardashian–that’s the one who had the baby, not the one who had the sex tape–also claimed that the little vial of white powder that she produced from her purse during a radio show wasn’t hers. Apparently one of her “employees” found the stuff on the floor of a dressing room. Khloe decided to tuck it in her purse and forget about it until she went on the air instead of throwing it away or delivering it to authorities. She’s just civic-minded about litter, perhaps.
A Kardashian will attend the opening of an envelope and never passes up a chance to slurp up fame, though, so she may even have been telling the truth. The woman would likely claim Lindsay Lohan’s coke-pants were hers too if she thought anyone would believe she could’ve fit into them.
Paris Hilton, on the other hand, is neither as dim nor as desperate for fame as Khloe Kardashian. She’s phenomenally wealthy and famous; she has no reason to be desperate. She does, however, have reason to surround herself with people who carry things for her–luggage, small dogs, her sunglasses, dope. The hired help is especially handy for carrying something else, too: blame.
It wouldn’t do for Ms. Hilton to run afoul of the law, particularly not in a foreign country that may not be as forthcoming with the gentle treatment to which she’s become accustomed after her previous courtroom experiences. Her “friends” are well paid and would probably be happy to accept a little blame for the heiress’ misdeeds in exchange for a little more spending money.
My problem with the quick and effusive apology that Hilton received for being detained has litle to do with her guilt or innocence. Whether her hired companion took the fall for her or whether she never touches the stuff, it’s galling to see the double standard with which celebrity cases are handled.
How many ordinary Joes and Janes are detained daily, both at home and abroad, and swear that the suspicious substances found on or near them aren’t really theirs? How many of them are believed? How many of them have an entourage willing to shoulder the blame? How many will be cleared within hours of being detained? How many receive public apologies for the inconvenience and embarrassment of being wrongfully accused? Watching any episode of “Cops” makes that answer clear.
Celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan may bat their false lashes at judges and solemnly proclaim their innocence on Friday so they can attend their requisite parties on Saturday. They may even be telling the truth. But even if they aren’t, they have the means to hire others to keep them looking pure in the eyes of the law. Naturally, mobsters and gangsters travel in mobs and gangs; apparently there’s good reason for some celebrities to follow their lead.
Sources: CNN.com, South African Authorities Detain Paris Hilton, July 2, 2010
New York Daily News, That Coke in My Pocket’s Not Mine!, Patrick Huguenin and John Lauinger, July 26, 2007
Digital Spy, Kourtney Kardashian: ‘Khloe Coke Was Real’, Mayer Nissim, September 4, 2009