The Bling Ring may be the most anxiety producing film I have ever seen. I sat raptly watching it with deep concern over the state of young people today. Thankfully, I was with two young women who are interns for the Athena Film Festival, who were by the way also very anxious, and they both assured me that not all high school kids are like the kids in the movie. It was a relief, but still, even if most kids are not like those in the film, some kids are. This is the latest film from Sofia Coppola who has made a career of looking at youth, indulgence and fame. What she has accomplished here is to make good movie about a bunch of hateful people.
This film is about the diminishing line (if there is a line anymore) between fame and infamy. It tells the story of a group of kids from the LA Valley whose desire is to emulate their idols, reality TV stars. The film is such a cautionary tale and shows the deleterious effect that reality TV has had on our culture. These reality TV stars like the Kardashians and the Paris Hiltons of the world have become the people that kids look up to. They want to be them because we live in a world where you become famous for having your sex tape stolen or for having drug problems or for being on a TV show about nothing. It is disturbing on so many fronts. When the ring leader Rebecca — a real sociopath — played by Katie Chang is caught, she shows no remorse or concern for her future. The only she wants to know is if Lindsey Lohan knows who she is.
These kids have no moral compass. They could care less about the fact that they are breaking the law and more especially they could care less that they are invading people’s privacy. In some way you can’t blame the kids because their victims are the ones who have blurred the line between public and private lives.
And let’s not talk about the parents of these kids. Most are missing, and the one present adult, the mother of Emma Watson’s character Nicki, is divorced (with no job and a really nice home) who home schools her kids based on the philosophy of The Secret (the best-selling self help novel.) She has them make vision boards, but no math or reading. (Coppola picked this up from the reality show Pretty Wild that the character was based on.)
The movie also made me sad. Technology and reality TV has overwhelmed all of us. There is no going back. Things are out of control and this movie is the perfect illustration of just how quickly everything deteriorated.