The Bling Ring: Fame Hungry, Delusional Teens

Written by Liam Hughes

In 2009, a bunch of spoilt and negligently parented teens wi

In 2009, a bunch of spoilt and negligently parented teens with a celebrity obsession became the most audacious burglary gang in recent Hollywood history. After figuring out a way to steal from Tinseltown’s young players – Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Audrina Patridge (a regular on the reality show, The Hills), Rachel Bilson (former star of The O.C.) and original Beverly Hills 90210 cast member Brian Austin Green and his girlfriend, actress Megan Fox – they are accused of stealing more than $3 million in clothing and jewellery.

Rachel Lee and Nick Prugo, both 19, are alleged to be the ringleaders of the Hollywood burglaries, starting out in petty larceny by checking car doors for vacated wallets and purses from their affluent neighbours before trespassing and thieving from a friend’s house, who they knew wasn’t in Los Angeles at the time.

Vanity, celebrity-worship and a penchant for luxury brands

Motivated by vanity, celebrity-worship and a penchant for luxury brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany, Cartier, Prada, Marc Jacobs, Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent the duo were later (allegedly) aided by friends, Diana Tamayo (19), Alexis Neiers (18), Courtney Ames (19) and Roy Lopez (27) in performing heists on their favourite celebrity’s homes in what they described as ‘shopping.’

The gang entered and filled designer suitcases and luggage with the celebrity’s valuables with ease as though they were on a shopping spree in their local mall. “They took bags and bags of stuff,” Patridge says in Vanity Fair, where you can read the full story ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins’ by Nancy Jo Sales.

The motive behind the burglaries is unclear.

A taste of the fame

It could have been a plea for a taste of the fame that so many youngsters seem to be vying for in today’s social media obsessed world—a cold and calculated crime spree, or a group of teenagers that took their obsession with stars to a whole new level.

The criminal behaviours of the American teenagers make for an interesting story and it’s no wonder it was picked up by movie makers to be adapted for the big screen. The Bling Ring is a satirical black comedy crime film based on actual events from critically acclaimed director, writer and producer, Sofia Coppola.

Emma Watson: Stand out role

Harry Potter star Emma Watson and Vera Farmiga’s younger sister, Taissa complete an ensemble cast including newcomers Israel Broussard, Katie Chang and Claire Julien. Watson in particular was key to the marketing success of the film as she follows the footsteps of other child star’s such as Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez in trying to shirk off her good girl persona.

In my opinion, Watson has successfully transgressed from know-it-all brat Hermione Granger to a young and highly regarded adult actress with more serious roles in My Week with MarilynThe Perks of Being a Wallflower and Noah, due for release in 2014.

Weightless, affectless portrayal

Coppola creates a weightless, affectless portrayal of their crime spree that is very effective and sees stealing as a symptom of the growing hunger and need for fame, or the limited fame offered by social media. As the tagline reads ‘If you can’t be famous, be infamous’. The film could be considered as a shallow ode to Hollywood excess as you delve into the uncanny career of larceny, as the A-list lifestyle is something “everyone kind of wants”, according to the delusional adolescents.

Coppola’s dialogue is driven directly and remorselessly from the individuals’ testimonials and delivered with a blankness that would normally be irritable but adds to the feel that this is a shallow film about shallow people.

Characterisation sympathetic on Coppola’s part

It could be argued that the Bling Ring’s characterisation is somewhat sympathetic on Coppola’s part, who has been noted as describing the youngsters as confused. Nicki’s mother, Laurie (played by a superb Leslie Mann) home schools her with banal new-age theories and teaching sessions on why Angelina Jolie is a valid role model. This might now seem ironic because of the positive invocation of Jolie yet it’s the superficial characteristics that Nicki (Watson) and her peers pick up on “Her husband” and “Her hot bod” that adds to the vacuousness of the movie.

Coppola has also been congratulated for Paris Hilton’s involvement. The kids stole from Paris’ on multiple occasions, who wasn’t aware items were stolen, which goes without saying exaggerates the idea of excess in Hollywood. The hotel heiress allowed scenes to be set in her house adding another level of authenticity to the film. She even has a cameo in an early nightclub scene, as does Kirsten Dunst, a frequent lead in Coppola’s films, which the teens get a thrill from dancing in close proximity to.

Self-reflection on the sought after fame game

Coppola’s sympathy is understandable as the director grew up to be a version of what these kids aspired to be, and much of her previous work worries about the fame game. The Virgin Suicides (1999), starring Dunst, was about sisters finding celebrity status posthumously; Lost in Translation (2003) and Somewhere (2010) invites audiences to sympathise with the lonesome star, whilst Marie-Antoinette (2006) was a Hollywood fable dressed up in revolutionary history.

The Bling Ring, therefore, can’t help but be another self-reflection on the much sought after fame game.

Have your say on The Bling Ring in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.