The Bling Ring: How a Band of Celebrity-Obsessed Teenagers Shocked Hollywood Paperback – Apr 25 2013
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'For a satire on America's modern day celebrity culture, The Bling Ring is hard to beat.' The Guardian 'With its depth of insight into extremes of shallowness, and its human scale, reads like a minor classic of our times.' The Observer 'Jaw-dropping' **** Star --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
The true story that inspired the Sofia Coppola film
Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson: robbed. More than $3 million in stolen clothing, jewelry, shoes, and handbags reported missing. Who is behind one of the most brazen string of crimes in recent Hollywood history? Meet the Bling Ring: a band of club-hopping teenagers from the Valley with everything to lose.
Over the course of a year, the members of the now infamous Bling Ring allegedly burglarized some of the biggest names in young Hollywood. Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, these seven teenagers made headlines for using Google maps, Facebook, and TMZ to track the comings and goings of their targets. Many of the houses were unlocked. Alarms disabled. A "perfect" crime— celebrities already had so much, why shouldn't the Bling Ring take their share?
As the unprecedented case unfolded in the news, the world asked: How did our obsession with celebrities get so out of hand? Why would a group of teens who already had so much, take such a risk?
Acclaimed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because each stolen T-shirt or watch brought them closer to living the Hollywood dream . . . and because it was terrifyingly easy. For the Bling Ring the motivation was something deeper than money—they were compelled by a compulsion to be famous. Gaining unprecedented access to the group of teens, Sales traces the crimes minute by minute and details the key players' stories in a shocking look at the seedy, and troubling, world of the real young Hollywood.See all Product Description
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In the book, there are additional facts from police reports and references to things discovered by TMZ. Unfortunately, that means there is not a lot that's new here for people who followed this case as closely as I have. That said, the interviews with some of the members are worth the price of the book, in addition to a few things second-in-command Nick Prugo told to police about the involvement of other individuals not charged with any crimes that I had not read elsewhere, such as the possible involvement of "Pretty Wild" star Tess Taylor.
The only caution I have to give in regards to this book is that Sales spends a fair amount of time referencing sociological studies about fame & going on small tangents comparing mastermind Rachel Lee & Prugo to people like Bonnie & Clyde, using historical evidence to support her thought process. This could be a bit dense for some readers, who might expect more sensationalism from such a tabloid-friendly case. It's worthy information and it certainly helps with context, but it does make the book a bit deeper than the case appears to be from a cursory look.
I hope Sofia Coppola is right about this just being a bad period of time that will soon be behind us. I appreciate Nancy Jo's efforts to help make that happen by writing this book in the way she did. It was not only entertaining, but came with a message. The book club members loved the book and the discussion it prompted.
The children of the almost wealthy believe that fame and wealth are their birthrights. Reality TV has told them so. Teen age billionaires and magazine covers have proved it to be true. The media has made them the focus of their efforts. So a band of four, more or less, decided to walk into famous homes and take the trappings. Those robbed felt invaded , and so they were. Their possessions were used to make a facade to transform the thief into the rich and famous. After all, one of the original targets, Paris Hilton, was in fact famous for being famous and the release of a well timed social media sex tape.
These children's entitlement extended to their flaunting their new clothing online, and posing in imitation of their heroes. They stole money and inhabited the same clubs. And the media responded by giving them shows and featuring the Bling Ring on magazine covers. Now a movie chronicles the phenomena. The author does an erudite and extensive case for his theories. He has done his homework and cites the research. He manages to do this within a fascinating and flowing narrative. Some of his sentences, like those cited, are awkward or grammar free, but this technique rather helps the theme along. Of course there is the question, now what?
Seriously, there were quite a few mistakes in this book that could have been easily picked up on (for someone who is such an expert on pop culture, she couldn't even get the air dates of Girls Next Door right...anyone with access to Google can figure it out) and misquoting people when there are videos all over the internet of their actual interviews. If she can't get small facts like that right, how are we to trust her to report the case accurately?
I bought this book because I had followed this case in the media as it unfolded, and also watched Pretty Wild when it aired. Hearing Alexis Neiers story recently of how she was heavily addicted to hard drugs during the time of the burglary and her reality show, and how she has since completely turned her life around (she's now over 2 years sober, married and with a child) really touched me. I went through similar problems during my late teens/early 20's and was inspired to see a young girl overcome her demons and admit to her mistakes.
While the book was an interesting read, I felt almost disgusted at times by how judgmental and immature Nancy Jo could be - going as far to write in her thank yous "Thanks to my dad, for teaching me to work hard (and not to burgle)" and "Thank you to David, for making me laugh on the phone by saying, "This is upper-middle-class crack head behavior". I miss his wisdom". I felt like this was really inappropriate and unprofessional. My favorite quote (from The Great Gatsby) is "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had" and I think that Nancy Jo needs to remember this - as stated in her book, Alexis was sexually abused by a family member as a very young child, physically abused by her father and given prescription drugs extremely early in her life - all of these things would mess up anyone psychologically. It influenced her behavior and she has grown from it, and for Nancy Jo to offer fake sympathy for her in places throughout the book and then basically turn around and laugh at her is really horrible. Especially since she gave an interview about the famous "This is Alexis Neiers calling" clip from Pretty wild, saying: "I wondered what about that moment people still found so entertaining, three years later. I don't mean to be a party pooper here, but I've never found the clip all that funny. Alexis was in real distress during that call" How nice of her to say, right? Well it would be...if she wasn't CONSTANTLY retweeting other people's jokes about it and referencing it in her own tweets - for all her judgment about "fame hungry" people, she is clearly using this girls pain for her own fame.
The most ironic thing about this book is how the entire thing is about how awful it is that these kids are so obsessed with celebrities - and then on the final page, in Nancy Jo's author bio....she name drops that she's worked with "Damien Hirst, Hugh Hefner, Russell Simmons, Donald Trump, Tyra Banks, Angelina Jolie, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Taylor Swift". Really??
I have no problem being fascinated with celebrities, in fact, i am myself. But don't pretend to be above it, when you're no better than any of those kids who you're judging for the same damn thing. At least they can admit to it.