PARIS HILTON, EX-CON, LIKELY WILL BE WORSE

I’m less concerned about Paris Hilton going to jail than I am about her getting out.

When she gets out, the fawning over her will be even worse, multiplied by the fact that – unlike most moments in her vapid life – there is actually something to talk about. Listen. You can hear it already:

What was life like in jail, Paris? How did you survive it, Paris? What did you eat there, Paris? How did the other women treat you, Paris? Every talk show will claw for her. Every L.A. photographer will have a camera hoisted. When Paris gets out, she’ll be the first person to ever sit in a cell, the first person to endure three hots and a cot, her prison number will be a badge of honor, her orange jumpsuit will fetch huge money on eBay. People used to be ashamed of going to jail. Then again, people used to close the door for sex. Now, leaking a video of you and your boyfriend in full-throttle is considered a brilliant career move. It worked for Paris. It put Paris on the map.

Interviews. Book opportunities. Regis, Jay, Dave, Matt. There will be more fuss over Hilton’s release than there has been over her incarceration.

She puts the pro into being a con.

Putting her PR machine to work

Of course, like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi or Joan of Arc, Paris is being unfairly jailed by evil authorities. At least this is what she – and her publicity machine – would have you believe. "I just sign what people tell me to sign," she told the judge who asked if she understood what it meant to accept a drunken-driving plea, which she had done. "… I’m a very busy person." And there you have it.

She’s very busy. Hey. It takes time to have sex and film it. It takes time to shop every store in Beverly Hills. It takes time to get paid $50,000 to show up at a party, to giggle and curse and slur into cameras, to declare on a TV show that you are giving up sex for a year and then be photographed five days later kissing a guy, to date not one but two Greek shipping millionaires, to start a record company called Heiress Records and be the only artist on it.

It takes time to get drunk, then get in your car and drive, speed, make an illegal turn and get pulled over. It takes time to explain the incident hours later on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, calling it "nothing" and explaining "I was just really hungry and I wanted to have an In-N-Out burger." It takes time to have your license suspended for four months, then almost immediately go driving anyhow and be pulled over and cited, then go driving the next month and get pulled over and cited again, then go driving the next month and be cited again – with the previous warning still sitting in your car. It takes time to come up with an explanation for why you did that, and why you failed to attend alcohol education classes you agreed to, and why you arrived late for court.

Here was her explanation:

It was my publicist’s fault.

See? That’s exhausting.

A full-time job as a celeb

Now, if you’re over 30, you probably have seen photos of Hilton slinking around, sleepy-eyed, purse pooch in hand, various states of undress, and you’ve asked yourself, "What exactly does this woman do?" She doesn’t do. She just … is. Which makes railing against her so insidious. Because, devoid of talent, Paris Hilton exists only for publicity. You can’t stop her when she does something bad – it only makes her more famous – and you can’t ruin her when she does something good, because that, too, makes her more famous. She’s like a cyborg, some science-fiction creature that rebuilds itself after you hit it with a rocket.

Which leaves us only one choice: to ignore her. My dream would be the day she gets out of jail, she steps through the doors – and nobody is there. No cameras. No microphones. Just the sycophants of her strange world looking around, lifting their sunglasses and wondering, "Where is everybody?" Because the point of Paris Hilton’s existence – bad behavior and all – is to be noticed.

You really want to teach Paris Hilton a lesson while she’s in jail? You don’t lose the key. You lose interest.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or malbom@freepress.com. Catch "The Mitch Albom Show" 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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