Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World

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Rating: 3 Stars...and that is generous. More likely a 2.5

Oh Sweet Baby Jesus.

I first remember hearing about the so-called Bling Ring when Orlando Bloom's house had been robbed and didn't think much of it again until 'Pretty Wild' started airing. I caught bits and pieces of the show and eventually started watching it because it was simply insane and I could at least rest assured that my life in grad school was no where near as terrible as these crazy girls and their crazy mom. I specifically remember the episode where Alexis Neiers was arrested and how she sobbed and cried and swore up and down that she was not involved, she had nothing to do with it, yadda yadda yadda.

Then here in the book we find out she was a consultant on the movie. I mean, it was pretty obvious from her overly dramatic reaction that she was completely involved.

I must admit that I kept watching the show, oh you sly Ryan Seacrest, you should do know how to hook 'em! But since it was only something like 10 episodes or whatever, my brain didn't rot too much, plus I had the whole grad school thing to help keep away the rot as well. The timing of the show airing was certainly interesting, given that the first episode is literally the one where Alexis is arrested - I missed out on the first couple original air dates and subsequently watched them out of order, so my memory may be a bit hazy on the timeline. Not to mention this all happened six years ago, and I read the book in July. But whatever.

Anyway, the book gave some interesting tidbits, such as the fact that Alexis' adopted sister-whatever was also a suspect in the burglaries. On the show it seemed pretty clear that Alexis was the only suspect. Tess was there when she was released from jail, and the paparazzi were snapping zillions of photos, but the book says Tess was never charged - implying that she was at least a suspect. The show definitely did not focus on that, and I am curious as to why they would do so. Surely TWO socialite-wannabes being charged with burglary is even more entertaining than one, no? In the book Nick (the ringleader) even says around 42% that he and Tess robbed Rachel Bilson's house together, yet she was never charged? It does not make sense to me, unless it was explained somewhere else in the book and I have forgotten. It said something earlier on that Alexis didn't rat her out, but why wouldn't Nick? He ratted our everyone else - including himself.

It is sometimes really easy I think for people to forget that these celebrities are human. They might be super shallow and self-absorbed humans (I'm looking at you, Paris), but they are still human. I really felt bad for Rachel Bilson in particular - not only because Summer Roberts remains one of my all-time favorite characters - but because of how deeply this impacted her and how she felt so violated in her own home and could not stay there. I think sometimes it is really easy for 'regular people' to look at celebs as animals in a zoo here for our entertainment and forget that they really are still people who deserve to feel safe in their own homes. But these punk kids thought it was perfectly reasonable and even acceptable for them to waltz in, take what they wanted - sometimes making numerous trips. It is so incredibly infuriating to see these brats doing stuff like this. This may also have to do with the fact that stealing is one of the things that truly pisses me off the most (especially being a teacher and all). You didn't earn it, you didn't pay for it, it does not belong to you.

There are other people to feel sorry for in this whole debacle though, not just the celebs who could obviously recover financially even if emotionally it took a bit longer. I could not really keep all the thieving kids straight, so I don't really remember most of their names, or their parents' names either. But I most definitely felt bad for the mother of the older guy who was fencing the stolen goods. It seemed from the book that her life had never been easy and suddenly all of this was happening and it was terribly unfair of these bozos to put their parents into such difficult positions.

My biggest issue with the book ended up being the author herself. It was an easy read and one I finished pretty quickly, but I was not there for any pseudo-intellectual dissection of why these kids felt entitled to help themselves to whatever they found lying around in the homes of these celebrities. I could certainly have done without her theories or sociological interpretations of the whys or the impact of reality television on people. My purpose for reading was to hear about the case and the crimes and I didn't have much interest in a magazine writer trying to make the book more academic-sounding. I skimmed over the parts where the author discussed pornography and modeling, and the impact these things have on society - especially for young boys and girls. Eventually the author did some kind of dissection on Bonnie and Clyde and compared them to Rachel and Nick, the leaders of these bored, dumb kids. At that point I was pretty much done.

Overall this one was kind of like watching a car wreck. You want to look away but for some reason you just can't. You have to know what happened. You can find out, if you tip-toe around all the pop-psychology bs, and if you can do so then by all means, have at it.

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