When the Los Angeles police broke up the “Bling Ring” last month, it took all of a few days for its members to become famous.
The intensely photogenic teenage burglars pillaged celebrity homes armed by Internet maps of star homes and TMZ.com information on when their intended victims will be out at some red-carpet event. In between their busy schedule, the high-school robbers found time to hang out on the beach, Twitter about offers from Playboy and sign up for reality TV shows. They hawked some of their loot for cash, but kept most of it to wear and show off to their friends.
The accidental arrest of one of the ring-leaders led to the unraveling of a teenage drama which no doubt will be made into a TV series by next year. The media went crazy, following the kids to the point that they themselves became celebrities. Parents stepped in to defend their offspring by putting the blame on their friends. Journalists fought for exclusive interviews and offered compassionate accounts of modern teens besieged by media images of equally young celebrities, who seem close enough to touch. Bloggers chimed in, and tweets twittered – and no one seemed to bring up the dubious nature of stealing as an occupation.
After all, would you really feel sorry for Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan missing something or other by Chanel? (Paris reportedly stopped by the LAPD office to retrieve 2M$ worth of stolen goods.) The more we learn about the burglary details, the more this Bling Ring sounds like a remake of a Robin Hood movie. All that’s missing is our lovely teenage thieves going to donate Orlando Bloom’s watches to an orphanage next door, or bringing Rachel Bilson’s TV (stolen on the third visit to her home) to an ailing grandmother in East LA. Never mind if this didn’t happen in real life, it will certainly be written into the scripts, as we watch the story unfold on screen in a year or so.
Meanwhile, like a bad movie plot, the real life drama falls flat because it lacks a good ending. There were no higher reasons behind our teenage crime ring. They stole because they simply wanted to be like their favorite celebrities. And what do those celebrities have? Talent? Oh please. Beauty? Class? Charisma? Let’s not even go there. The one thing that distinguishes the modern teenage idol from the teenager who follows him on Twitter is the unlimited supply of bling.
The moral aspect of the Bling Ring story comes to life when we think that for every teen brave enough to put on a mask and break into a starlet’s home, there must be thousands just sitting by their computers, obsessing over glossy TMZ.com photos. No wonder media has trouble judging the Bling Ring cast – who are they to throw the first stone?
“You are what you wear” is the message we see all around us, particularly now that High Street brands have found a recipe for minting money by associating with celebrities and their favourite designers. Jimmy Choo’s launch for H&M this month was just another example of a fool-proof formula. A week before launching the collection worldwide, H&M invited the usual LA suspects – Paris, Lindsey and the rest of them – to wear Choo for H&M to an LA premiere. The stars happily obliged, and the pictures of them in blindingly shiny outfits spread around the Internet (thank god the Bling Ringesr were in jail by then).
The usual H&M rage ensued, with young women across the globe lining up for 10 or so hours in pouring rain and snow, to get their hands on cheaply stitched leather and sparkling bracelets that, at closer inspection, would not even qualify as bling, but rather as low-end plastic produced in China. Yet I am sure that by putting their hands on the sparkling gear that day the young fashionists felt the same high that the Bling Ringers did when sporting the real Choos and Diors at some house party.
Who knows, perhaps H&M should now contract the Bling Ring for their next designer collaboration? They have experience, they have an eye, and they might have some time on their hands now. I could just see the tagline “ Celeb must haves, coming to you from the Los Angeles County Jail ”…