“The Bling Ring” by Nancy Jo Sales is a great reflection on modern day society’s obsession with celebrity and pop culture. The book follows a handful of teenagers living in wealthy SoCal as they commit several acts of burglary and theft on some of world’s biggest stars including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, and Rachel Bilson. But how could a bunch of teens manage to rob some of the biggest names in Hollywood and remain under the radar with LAPD? My take is because no one would suspect a bunch of teenagers to pull of these kinds of sprees. And that was The Bling Ring’s (the label used for the teenage gang) perception too. And they were right.
Ms. Sale’s book approaches the story from the angle of an investigative reporter where she clearly and cleanly lays out the facts by using notes and recording from interviews with the teenage suspects as well as their families and lawyers. What unfolds is a story of a bunch of teenagers from good, wealthy families who hunger for the spotlight and the luxe life that goes with it. With stars like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardahsian being “famous for doing nothing” and with reality TV stars such as the Bachelor/Bachelorette, Housewives, and Survivor – our society has made household names relatively unknowns – many who are just as obsessed with fame and the glory of Hollywood as these teenagers (they just went about it in a more legal manner).
Surrounded by YouTube stars and reality-TV contests – Ms. Sales shows that it really isn’t that far of a jump to go from cruising around the mall parking lot to staking out and robbing celebrity homes. It was all about the lifestyle. The clothes. The bags. The cars. The parties. The glamour of it all. It’s a very slippery slope from there. Ms. Sales does an excellent job in providing research and statistics that support this kind of celebrity obsession and self-imposed right to live like A-listers. With media bombarding us with pictures of celebrity lifestyles as well as all the “things” that come with it, many of this generation equate designer-labels with necessity – not luxury.
Overall, the book is a glimpse into a generation that feels entitled to the fame without having to do the work. While I enjoyed the book, I did find some parts a little slow. Perhaps it was because the story had already played out in the media and I knew the ending – but I was waiting for the big AH HA! moment, which never came, and of course speaks to Ms. Sale’s work as a journalist and not a fiction author.
After finishing the book I also watched the movie directed by Sofia Coppula. Again, while the movie does talk about the obsession around celebrity, pop culture and the trappings that go with it, I didn’t find it to be worth the 90 minutes. I would suggest either reading the book or watching the movie – they are so similar that you’ll get the main gist with either.