Being a regular reader of Vanity Fair I reader Nancy Jo Sales article on the Bling Ring back in 2010 - The Suspects Wore Louboutins. Ironically, well ironic for me, flicking through the magazine you have to wade through countless slick advertisements for perfume, haute couture, jewellery… From Dior to Vuitton to Gucci to Miu Miu to Tiffany & Co. to Bvlgari… finally arriving at the featured articles. The story is of a gang of fame hungry and obsessed American affluent wannabe celebs robbing real-life celebs living in Calabasas, California of their handbags, clothes, Rolexes, cash, jewellery and Victoria Secrets underwear. There teenagers desperate for their 15 minutes of fame and media exposure.
Rebecca meets Marc on his first at the high school he has been transferred to. They develop a close friendship, which culminates in “car checking” (stealing the contents of unlocked cars) to robbing the house of Paris Hilton. Marc felt like an “outsider” at his previous high school and the film cuts to him being interviewed after being caught where he admits that the reason he felt an “outsider” was due to the fact he didn’t have “A-lister” looks. Rebecca and Marc are the alleged ring-leaders of the Bling Ring, the circle widened to include 3 others; Nicki, Sam and Chloe. One of the most hilarious scenes was the home schooling conducted by Nicki and Sam’s hippy-dippy mother. She discusses the importance of surrounding themselves with positive characters again the film cuts to Nicki and Sam and the rest of Bling Ring partying hard, drinking, dope taking, snorting coke and taking Oxycontin.. They want that lifestyle of a celeb, they find meaning to their lives through thrills and kicks by robbing. Spending their spoils in that other iconic altar of consumerism, Rodeo Drive. Scouring InStyle magazine looking at the celebs in their couture, google maps in checking out the addresses and the comings and goings of the Z-listers and uploading their pix on Face Book. The film cuts away to real life footage of TMZ reporting about various misdemeanors of the rich ‘n Hollywood famous…
The Bling Ring admire and desire to the have the lifestyle of the shallow clothes horses that parade around in the latest Prada and Lauboutins, who are more famous for their arrests and reality television. But it’s the lifestyle these teenagers want along with a sense of entitlement. As Rebecca would say to the rest of the ring, “Let’s go shopping” and shopping they would, audaciously checking the doors and windows, guessing that Paris Hilton keeps her door key under the mat (!!!!!!!!!) and in one scenario Nicki taking her younger sister on one of their crime capers so that she can crawl through the dog flap and let them in. Their audacious behaviour becomes reckless with them robbing the houses more than once (apparently when Paris Hilton was first burglarised she didn’t know!). If one of them wanted a pair of Victoria Secrets knickers they would rob Miranda Kerr and Orlando Bloom, taking his Rolex collection with them. The houses are minimalist, identical looking and some, especially Paris Hilton, pure bad taste furnishings!
These magazines that have proliferated over the years sell and make a profit. These Z-listers with their bling and bad taste coupled with a gang of fashionista groupies who desire clothes. Again, Paris Hilton, didn’t know she had been robbed possibly because she had hoarded so many freebies and riches that they more than likely don’t clean up after themselves, take no responsiblity and leave it to the hired help that they achieve, according to Barbara Ehrenreich, a certain magical weightlessness and immateriality.
There are these artifical wants and needs, the hallmarks of consumer capitalism and conspicuous consumerism. People buying status symbols to show their economic power. These teenagers wanted to be part of that lifestyle, were mesmerised by it.
Sofia Coppola doesn’t indulge in any psychobabble and try to analyse the behaviour of the Bling Ring, she is more interested in this obsession with celebrity, consumerism and reality television. All a lethal mix where the lives of these “stars” whether in a reality television setting and/or having their lives splashed on the front pages of these mags; from celebrity to cellulite to clothes is dissected in an obsessional way. The mentality it seems if their lives dominate the popular magazines and the living room then surely they are part of our lives? Therefore robbing them is nothing more than an extension of that. The acting is impressive, I especially loved Emma Watson as Nicki with her faux tears and over-the-top statements.
“God didn’t give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.”
The way Watson delivers these statements is in a such a believable way. When their world comes crashing down and the cops come a-knocking their bravado turns to tears and crying for mother. Nicki, her sisters and mother are guided by lawyers and TMZ, the pinnacle of their dreams, reality television. They are getting their 15 minutes of fame. But their notoriety is soon forgotten. Reality comes down with a firm bump when you see an handcuffed Marc wearing an off-the-peg orange jumpsuit being led to jail. Rebecca and Marc got longer jail terms because they were deemed the “ring leaders” while Nicki, got a couple of months in prison, her cell next door to her idol, Lindsay Lohan. Again, interviewed on her release her self-obsession for glory rears its ugly head. Nicki stares at the camera and tells us, the viewer, that you can read about her on her blog. Social media plays a massive role in their lives, uploading pix of themselves in their stolen gear. Marc, when interviewed, perks up when he announces that he had received 800 FB requests which he accepted without checking. The friendship between Marc and Rebecca was close but the scene in their court, Rebecca gives Marc no eye contact.
These shallow, callow, selfish, self-absorbed followers of fashion and the celebrity exposes this obsession with the celebrity. The pinnacle of success is landing your own reality show… or maybe having a film about you. It also reminded me of the film, Clueless, one of my favourite films of the 1990s, which parodies the self-obsessed and shallowness of affluent teenagers. I liked the way Coppola spliced real life footage into the film, atmospheric photography, great acting and a script that combines both drama and comedy.