This Is Paris

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
This Is Paris Movie Poster Image
Paris Hilton reveals boarding school abuse; language, sex.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Childhood trauma can create terrible lifelong problems. "No one really knows who I am." "I love making money."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hilton is obsessed with pursuing her business interests around the world. "Everyone says I am the original influencer… Sometimes I feel like I created a monster." Hilton is a bundle of contradictions. "People think I'm just this party girl. I'm not like that."

Violence

Hilton says at least four of her ex-boyfriends abused her mentally and physically. She and other survivors of a boarding school describe being imprisoned, beaten, medicated, put in solitary confinement, and otherwise mentally, psychologically, and, in some cases, sexually abused at the schools. Animation depicts the content of Hilton's nightmares, in which she's forcibly abducted, screaming.

Sex

Hilton allowed a man she loved to tape them having sex. When he published the tape without her permission, it went viral and embarrassed her and her family. A young Hilton is photographed wearing a fishnet shirt that bared her nipples (blurred out here). Much of Hilton's vast merchandising is based on selling her personal sex appeal.

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bitch," "hell," and "ass." Middle finger gesture.

 

Consumerism

Hilton's handbags, fragrances, shoes, and other goods in her brand are mentioned and/or seen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drugs aren't discussed, but the night life club scene in New York that Hilton enjoyed was well known for drug use. Hilton smokes a cigarette and drinks alcohol.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that This is Paris is a documentary revealing horrific alleged abuse famed influencer Paris Hilton experienced as a teenager when attending a Utah school designed to help troubled teens turn their lives around. Hilton and other survivors of the school recount forced manual labor, beatings, physical, mental, and sexual abuse, including drugging students and nude solitary confinement. Hilton's glamorous celebrity life fills the first half of the film, but things turn dark when the source of her ongoing unhappiness is revealed and she meets with other survivors of the school to bring attention to the alleged ongoing problems at such institutions. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "hell," and "ass." Hilton recounts physical abuse by boyfriends and laments the release without her permission of a tape showing her having underage sex with a former boyfriend. A young Hilton is photographed wearing a fishnet shirt that bared her nipples (blurred out here). She smokes a cigarette and drinks alcohol.

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What's the story?

THIS IS PARIS presents the famously party-going great granddaughter of the Hilton Hotel chain founder as strangely unhappy. A staple of gossip columns and the victim of a sex tap release when she was underage, Hilton has also been a punchline in the media (even with respect to her reality show The Simple Life). Here she makes clear that she's a carefully self constructed "brand" and successful international businesswoman. The celebrity DJ, social media pioneer, and fragrance purveyor is also, according to her sister Nicky, "addicted to drama." The documentary reveals that Hilton was abused at a psychiatric boarding school. Her parents sent her there to deal with the partying and, unmentioned in the film, DUIs and other difficult behavior. One family friend suggests other issues underneath, noting that during Hilton's childhood there was "too much focus on how beautiful she was," and home movie footage shows Hilton wearing makeup as a child, looking eerily like Jon-Benet Ramsey. The parents had her brutally kidnapped and dragged to Provo Canyon School in Utah, with a drastic program that allegedly medicated and abused her. The film follows Hilton on promotional tours in Asia and a DJ gig in Antwerp, but the big revelation is saved for later when she meets with former Provo classmates to discuss lasting effects of their trauma -- trust issues, an inability to conduct lasting love relationships, PTSD, and other serious woes. Hilton notes that her teenaged goal was to make a million dollars, an achievement she believed would bring happiness but didn't. Now her goal is to make a billion dollars. Her sister observes that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome "is the definition of insanity."

Is it any good?

This documentary is a sad story about a sad woman who, in triumph over profound trauma suffered as a teenager, built a self described false public persona and "brand" of products that made her millions. This is Paris' only real news, of Hilton's abuse at a boarding school, is delayed, a questionable judgment call that casts Hilton through early sections of the film as an extravagant, vain, bubble-headed conspicuous consumer, rather than the damaged abuse victim she truly seems to be. The film is notably silent on the issues that were serious enough to land her in a teen psychiatric institution.

Some combination of her behaviors were thought by her grandfather to have brought shame to the family, reportedly one reason Paris' grandfather wrote her and her parents largely out of his substantial estate plan. Plus, releasing a movie about a jet-setting, glitter-clad, millionaire celeb in the middle of a health crisis that has killed many and wiped out many more financially feels especially insensitive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to help "troubled teens." Hilton's parents, it seems, believed they were helping their rebellious daughter when they sent her to expensive boarding schools without knowing what methods those schools would use to "tame" Paris. Do you think, if the allegations in This Is Paris are true, that such schools should be regulated or closed? Why?

  • Hilton complains a lot about her life. Do you think people with far less privilege and wealth are likely to feel sympathy for someone with all of Hilton's advantages? Why?

  • Hilton has been called the architect of self promotion online. When asked if she feels responsible for the pressure social media puts on many young girls, she says, "I do." How can kids stand up to the pressure of presenting themselves a certain way?

Movie details

  • On DVD or streaming: September 14, 2020
  • Director: Alexandra Dean
  • Studio: YouTube
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: NR
  • Last updated: September 25, 2020

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