Friday, June 21, 2013

'The Bling Ring' Has Power to Inspire and/or Deter

NOT only is everybody in the United Sates famous – know anyone who does not have a reality show? If not, stay tuned. Soon they will. – everybody is decked out in designer threads.

The culture has become so label-obsessed that some people actually equate good character with one’s ability to turn oneself out in Armani, Birkin, Chanel, Dior, Escada, Fendi, Gucci and others along the alphabet. That is, one is probably a good person, one probably wouldn’t lie, cheat or steal if Hermes is on his or her back.

Confucius begs to differ: “The Master said, ‘A true gentleman is one who has set his heart upon the Way. A fellow who is ashamed merely of shabby clothing or modest meals is not even worth conversing with’.”
(Analects 4.9)”

The irony, of course, is that many turned out in Issey Miyake are lying, cheating and stealing and may not be worthy of engaging in conversation. Perhaps, they didn’t go into Bergdorf Goodman and lift any Jill Sander. But they may have foregone paying rent to own some Kenzo or maxed out their credit card to traipse around in Lanvin. In effect, they have robbed Peter to pay Paul for Missoni.

But some do the brand of lying, cheating, stealing that gains the attention of law enforcement. This is the case in Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.” It opens nationwide today and had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. It is based on real-life events. (See video above).

“I thought the whole thing was so fascinating and so contemporary and said so much about our culture today,” the daughter of Francis Ford has said by way of explanation for her attraction to this story.

The story is that for nearly a year, a group of celebrity-mad teenagers – yes, teenagers – burglarized the homes of Los Angeles stars, separating people like Paris Hilton (who among other victims, makes a cameo appearance in “The Bling Ring”), Orlando Bloom and Megan Fox from their high-end possessions. They didn’t sell them; they wore them. And what a novel idea to use the Internet to learn the whereabouts of the targets so they could go shoplifting!

Paris Hilton and companion at premiere of "The Bling Ring." Photos from "The Bling Ring" Facebook page.

This film, whose biggest star aside from those making cameos is Emma Watson, Hermione Granger from the "Harry Potter" film series, should be a cautionary tale. The teens got caught mainly through stupidity, youth or both and are paying for their crimes. But it may very well have the opposite effect. SC’s province is that of exquisite high-living such as in "Marie Antoinette."

Her portrait of Los Angeles neighborhoods – she filmed some scenes in the homes of some of the victims – is so enticing that lost in translation will likely be the notion that crimes are being committed and someone has to pay for them. Such is the state of mind of some that they might chance a stay in the big house to look as if they stay in a big house.

Nicki aka Alexis Neiers (Emma Watson) is not yet in Imelda territory but is amassing quite a shoe collection in "The Bling Ring."

Tragically, this it the state of the culture in the United States and increasingly around the world where capitalism and consumerism are allowed to run amok. Legions have inextricably entwined their self-worth and self-esteem with their ownership – by any means necessary, if necessary – of designer labels. And who can blame? Who can blame the kids who founded “The Bling Ring?”

Personal responsibility, notwithstanding they live in a corporate-controlled, mass-media culture that asserts in myriad and sundry ways that not only are you nobody if you’re not sporting Noten, Dries Van, you are no account, good-for-nothing – a creature to be despised and trampled on by Oscar de la Rentas.

Bling Ringers going to court to answer for their then-alleged crimes.

“Fight Club” author Chuck Palahniuk makes an astute observation: “We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear …”

Very bad news indeed.

”The Bling Ring” is rated R for teen drug and alcohol use, and for language including some brief sexual references; visit to learn more about the film.

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