A Vacancy at the Paris Hilton
Those who dismissed the ludic nihilism of Jean Baudrillard's later works— his final resignation in the face of hyperreality's triumph, his refusal to advocate on behalf of any illusory remnant of subjectivity, his concretization of evil in the encroaching logic of the object—should refer to a string of simulations reported in November of 2005, a month that—if history still existed—would no doubt figure prominently in its demise. As Iraq continued to explode and thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina found themselves cut off from the last crumbs of government assistance and public memory, celebutante Paris Hilton and three members of her roving entourage left a Hollywood nightclub to take their existential maw on the road. Hoping to outwit the paparazzi, Hilton's boyfriend/chauffeur Stavros Niarchos—presumably out of reflex more than logic—threw a coat over his head and then promptly rammed Hilton's $162,000 Bentley into the back of a truck. Naturally, they fled the scene, only to later be briefly stopped by the LA police. Despite an on-camera confession by one of the passengers that he “was the only one sober,” the police looked the other way and allowed the merry band to continue their night/week/month/life of menacing all honest working folk who might stand between them and a good time. The following day a spokesperson for the LAPD denied accusations that the quartet had received “special treatment,” while Hilton's publicist noted, “It's all very upsetting as you might imagine. But the important thing is at the end of the day what seems to be going on here is that Paris is the only victim. She's going to be stuck with the tab of repairing that car” (Whitcomb 2005).
By inviting us to imagine that any amount of money might actually matter to Hilton, perhaps her publicist thought he had contained the inci-