When it comes analysing the foibles of residents in the upper echelons of society, none do a better job than Sofia Coppola. See Lost in Translation and Somewhere. As for Marie Antoinette…well lets pretend that never happened.
I was very excited to see this movie, I don’t know why, possibly because I watched- and I’m ashamed to even admit this to myself- every episode of Pretty Wild when it aired on E! At first it started out as a thing of, I can’t find the remote but soon enough, long after the remote was found, I made a conscious effort to watch, not because it was revolutionary, far from that it was the most pointless bullshit ever on TV, – Reality TV shows are generally filled with bullshit displayed by their explicitly boring and vacuous casts- but the thing about Pretty Wild was the sense of entitlement and absolute lack of common sense these girls and their mother exhibited. This was car crash TV through and through but you just couldn’t look away. Then again what do you expect of a network that counts the Kardashians as their most important programme.
Nancy Jo Sales wrote this article in Vanity Fair March of 2010, chronicling the escapades of a fame hungry bunch who targeted the rich and famous and robbed them of over $3m in clothes, shoes, jewellery etc. The group was apprehended and after a short trial, punished with what can be deemed as a slap on the wrist. Quite frankly, if Alexis Neiers’s biggest issue was the fact that her footwear was misrepresented, in the grand scheme of her offences, its safe to say she has no ground, let alone a foot, to stand on.
The Bling Ring highlights what happens when children live in a community of enablers where a sense of entitlement is the norm. Its about a bunch of teenagers with absolute shit for brains. A gang of young thieves, basically. Lets call a spade a spade and spare the niceties.
What the film highlights is an uneasy obsession with fame and celebrity, especially by the young and impressionable who fall for the dizzying glitziness of that world. It is uneasy because it depicts a problem allowed to fester in society, such mindless glorification and shallow infatuation with a world of smoke screens and mirrors. Shot in true Copolla cinematographic prowess, the film depicts the young gang as they traipsed from one celebrity pad to the next, acting with such careless abandon. To them, it was all fun and games. There’s no real motive here, other than wanting to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous, stealing pretty things from the pretty rich people. One could argue that boredom took a more sinister turn and the lines between reality and fantasy became blurred at some stage but even so, it warrants no sympathies at all.
The movie is a reflection of a self obsessed culture that rewards notoriety with fame, here’s looking at you E!, Neiers was filming the Pretty Wild series at the same time as the court case. Furthermore, it highlights the innate shallowness of a glamourised Hollywood culture aptly depicted in the aloofness of these teens.
The gang, led by the smooth operating, self detached and somewhat sinister Rebecca, (the girl could be a serial killer) all kudos to Katie Chang for playing this role so well, is best described as a group of vapid narcissists, devoid of morals or real priorities. Their most important worry was upping their social clout and taking the perfect selfie for that all important Facebook update. Perhaps what’s even more shocking is the senseless from the adults in this situation, particularly Neiers mother Andrea Arlington Dunn, a former playboy playmate. Nicki, a character based on Neiers, played by Emma Watson, is home-schooled by a mother who spends her day in juicy velour sweats and swears by the teachings of The Secret. Everyday started with a Kumbaya session of holding hands and repeating affirmations. Leslie Mann was just pitch perfect in this role because nothing about the character was far fetched having watched the reality TV series, I’d say she was rather flattering. School, for the ones who attended, was like a pause in the day they’d rather spend “shopping” as they referred to their spate of robberies. Their nights, when not out stealing were spent in, of the moment clubs, taking selfies, updating their social status and flaunting their audaciousness. But for that moment, they get to live this life they so craved.
Celebrity culture has become a displeasing phenomenon to witness and thanks to the likes of E! and the rags, its not going away anytime soon. In this world of mass social media, muchness and access, anyone can be famous. After all we live in an age where a sex tape is the pre-requisite to said fame; see Paris Hilton, who was a key target for the Bling Ring and the equally vapid Kardashians. The excessive obsession with celebrity on entertainment websites, gossip magazines and again places like E! makes this life even more tantalising for those who want to emulate it.
These were not a bunch of disadvantaged or disenfranchised kids, they never wanted for or lacked anything and we still don’t know the reasons for their actions, something the film fails to resolve, but I guess Coppola did not set out to justify their actions, just to point out the shallow ideals that pepper today’s free society. Safe to say they are products of a society deeply enmeshed in celebrity culture. Indeed we are doomed.