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By Kat Kaderabek 

After years in the public spotlight, Paris Hilton is presumably ready to open up about her past and the trauma which led to the creation of what she deems the “character” or “cartoon” that is Paris Hilton. She recently released an almost two-hour-long documentary entitled “This is Paris” on her YouTube channel that allows the public eye to see into her private life and the struggles she has faced since childhood. 

The documentary is simultaneously genuine and completely disingenuous. There is a dichotomy that exists between scenes that leaves the audience wondering whether or not this is truly Paris or an act for the cameras in an effort to gain sympathy. Many of the opening scenes seem more like click-bait than they do like informing the audience on who Paris Hilton really is behind closed doors. 

When the documentary finally delves into her childhood, it is easy to see how she became who she is today. As the first grandchild of Hilton Hotel owner Barron Hilton, Paris and her family grew up surrounded by money and wealth. Paris was nicknamed “Star” from a very young age, and most of the home-video film shown in her documentary reveals she was commonly addressed by the nickname instead of her actual name. 

Her father seemingly always had his camera out, which was why Paris became used to the spotlight. Her mother reveals that when Paris was younger, there was almost too much focus on her beauty. Paris’s mother and her sisters had all been childhood actresses and models, a career path her mother did not support for Paris. 

Instead, her mother insisted on a Catholic school education where she was taught to be proper, private, and portray that everything was perfect. This would later lead to many problems between Paris’s family dynamic and the traumatic experience she underwent as a teenager. To this end, Paris said, “Mom wanted me to be a Hilton, and I just wanted to be Paris.” 

Paris’s sister, Nicky, joins the documentary as well and she reveals “Paris is addicted to drama.” While this is rather evident by Paris’s career in the spotlight, it does make the audience begin to question Paris’s real intentions behind this documentary and her motives for speaking out now. 

The film shows Paris interacting with her fans in rather awkward and disjointed manners. There is little conversation between them, and Paris sounds very fake when she speaks to them. Her constant use of her phone and computer makes every interaction seem like it is for something, rather than a simple meet-and-greet itself. 

Paris even addresses this when her sister instructs her to take a vacation without her phone. The documentary dubs Paris as the original influencer, a title which she proudly stands by; however, it is evident that this influencer lifestyle has greatly affected her life, and in many negative ways. The influencer cannot relax, is paranoid about other people and their intentions, and feels as if she always needs to be giving the public what they want. 

Paris fully acknowledges the issues behind this as well as the fact that they stem from the traumatic events of her childhood, yet she refuses to put down the phone, take a proper break, and work on herself. Perhaps this documentary was her way of doing so, but it still has her in front of a camera. There are even scenes that show Paris filming for the documentary and doing retakes of scenes she does not like or that the director deems unnatural. 

It is clear she has done some self-reflection; Paris even admits that she feels as if she created a monster as the first influencer. Even before selfies were around, Paris always had a video camera trained on her, filming her interactions with others and her daily life. After seeing the negative effects it has on teenage girls, some even as young as ten years old, Paris feels guilty and responsible. 

In this way, the documentary felt genuine. This acceptance for her role in creating this entire culture was one the audience could tell weighed heavily on the woman. This, combined with her detailed description of the experiences of trauma as a teenager, made Paris feel more real. Her documentary made her out to be a woman on the verge of self-discovery. When Paris finally opened up about her emotions and the things that she underwent, it was only the final few minutes of the documentary. But it ended with a hopeful note that the influencer is starting to work on herself and her mental health regardless of the media’s intention and opinions. 

The documentary also discussed some of Paris’s biggest scandals, including her sex tapes and her split from finacé Chris Zylka, who proposed with a ring worth over $2 million; however, each of these situations seemed to be done as requirements of the documentary rather than what Paris actually wanted to focus on. It was clear she and her family did not like discussing these issues and events. Instead, the documentary, while mostly rooted in the past, turns toward the future in the final scenes. 

Overall, for a documentary entitled “This is Paris,” it remains unclear who Paris Hilton actually is. The saddest part is that it is clear throughout the documentary that Paris herself does not know who she is; however, she is beginning now, at 39 years old, to take the steps to accept herself, her past actions, and figure out who she truly wants to be. 

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