In 2020, Paris Hilton released a documentary called This Is Paris, which vowed to reveal the real person behind the celebrity persona.
The great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels, Paris was one of the biggest stars of the early naughts thanks to her proximity to extreme wealth and ability to court paparazzi interest.
In 2003, she and her best friend Nicole Richie launched the Fox reality series The Simple Life, which magnified both of their global star power.
Made in a time before reality TV had taken over our screens, the innovative series followed Paris and Nicole as they gave up their life of luxury to experience the world as working-class people.
They were filmed getting stuck in with manual labor while struggling to complete basic tasks, such as doing their own laundry and putting up an ironing board.
Paris in particular leaned into a “dumb blonde” persona, and ahead of her documentary’s release she admitted that it had all been an act.
During an appearance on the Australian morning show Sunrise, Paris said that she even changed her natural speaking voice when she was in front of the camera to make herself sound less intelligent.
She went on to explain that she has been “playing a character” for the last 13 years, and that the world “has never really truly known” who she actually is.
When asked why she wanted to unveil the real her now, Paris said: “For my legacy and what I wanted to be remembered for. I don’t want to be remembered as some airhead. I want to be respected for the businesswoman that I am.”
And it is fair to say that she has seamlessly managed to flip the narrative, with Paris earning huge newfound respect after she opened up about her difficult childhood in This Is Paris.
The documentary and its subsequent interviews were also successful in rebranding Paris into a savvy businessperson, and she is regularly lauded on social media for the way that she so expertly turned herself into an emblem of the early 2000s.
In 2021, she signed a six-episode deal with Netflix for a reality show called Cooking With Paris, which included guest appearances from her famous friends, including Kim Kardashian.
She has also recently launched an NFT collection, reality series called Paris In Love, and produced a podcast called Trapped In Treatment inspired by her troubling time at a youth treatment facility in her childhood.
But some people have recently expressed their confusion at Paris’s image overhaul, and questioned how her career in the public eye has managed to thrive despite her long history of problematic comments and behavior.
Unbeknownst — or simply just forgotten — by many, over the years Paris has been caught on camera saying racist and anti-gay slurs, as well as defending Donald Trump as recently as in 2017.
Some of the earlier footage was actually stolen from Paris’s own archives in 2004. For a brief pop culture recap, Paris famously kept a slew of personal items in a storage locker between moving houses.
When she failed to pay a $208 fee for the locker, its entire contents were sold to an unknown buyer, before being obtained by David Hans Schmitt and Bardia Persa.
In 2007, they launched a site called parisexposed.com, where they posted things that they had found in the unit and charged fans $39.97 a month for access.
Among the personal items that they shared were medical bills that revealed sensitive information, the phone numbers of her celebrity friends, a private journal, prescriptions, bank statements, and home videos.
One of the videos shows Paris and her younger sister, Nicky Hilton, dancing together at a house party to the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize.” While dancing with exaggerated movements, Paris approaches the camera and says: “We’re like two niggers!”
Elsewhere in the clip, she describes another partygoer as a “fucking hoodlum broke, poor bitch from, like, Compton. Public school bitch!” and repeatedly calls a male friend a “faggot.”
Then in 2020, Jezebel were sent archival parisexposed.com footage of Paris singing a parody of “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, where she changed the lyrics to: “I am a fat ugly Jewish bitch/ I’m a little jap-y Jew/ I am a little Black whore, I get fucked in the butt for coke/ I’m a nigger and I’m Black and I steal shit.”
Paris’s then-publicist, Elliot Mintz, responded to the leaks in 2007, telling Page Six at the time: “I’m not going to make any attempt to spin this. It happened. I’m not going to deny it happened. Each of us has used words we have regretted later. This was six years ago. She was 20 at the time. It was New Year’s Eve. She had been obviously drinking. She sincerely regrets using those words. She is not a racist or an anti-Semite.”
But it’s not just the storage locker content that paints a problematic image of the star. In fact, three years prior to the leak, a reporter for the Daily Mail claimed to have seen a video of Paris that has never surfaced online.
Carole Aye Maung said that she was shown footage of Paris calling two Black men “dumb niggers” behind their back after they approached her and her former friend, Brandon Davis, to ask if she would model their fashion line. Paris’s reps declined to comment at the time.
But five years later, in 2009, Mark Ebner repeated a similar story in his book Six Degrees of Paris Hilton. Here he recalls her calling the men “dirty” instead of “dumb,” but the rest of the encounter remains much the same.
At this point, Paris responded in a statement, which read: “I am deeply hurt by recent reports. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not me. I love everybody and am not a person who discriminates against anyone — ever.”
However, the friend that she was reported to be with at the time refuted what she’d said, with Brandon telling the National Enquirer: “She was forever using the N-word. I told her not to use it. It was offensive. But she just laughed. She is a racist, plus an idiot.”
“Every Black person she referred to was a nigger,” he added. “She uses the word all the time, and I’ve known her all of her life. It’s ‘nigger this’ and ‘nigger that.’ She’s a disgrace. She is a racist!”
“She puts down Jews and other minorities, too. And I’m Jewish. I found it depressing,” Brandon concluded. “I finally had enough of her attitude six months ago, and I finished with her. I don’t want anything to do with her. I don’t need anything from her. She is no longer my friend. She’s just not a nice person.”
Meanwhile, in 2006, LA party planner Brian Quintana was granted a restraining order against Paris after he claimed that she called him a “lazy Mexican” and bombarded him with abusive phone calls.
In 2011, celebrity profiler Neil Strauss recalled a conversation that he’d allegedly had with Paris in his book Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness.
In his recollection, Neil said that Paris told him in 1999 that she had been on a date with someone from the movie Saving Private Ryan, and quotes her as saying: “We were making out, but then we went somewhere where it was bright and I saw that he was Black and made an excuse and left. I can’t stand Black guys. I would never touch one. It’s gross.”
When Neil asked her “how Black does a guy have to be?” he claims that Paris replied: “One percent is enough for me.”
Paris’s spokesperson denied that this had happened, telling the Los Angeles Times: “These allegations are absolutely untrue and ridiculous. We have sent these claims to Miss Hilton’s lawyers to respond further. It’s another example of someone making false claims for financial gain.” However, it appears that no legal action was taken.
The following year, in 2012, RadarOnline obtained an audio recording of Paris making anti-gay comments during a taxi ride, which was recorded by the driver.
Paris and a friend were seemingly discussing the recently-launched LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr when she said: “Gay guys are the horniest people in the world. They’re disgusting. Dude, most of them probably have AIDS.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Paris added: “I would be so scared if I were a gay guy. You’ll, like, die of AIDS.”
Her rep defended Paris at the time, saying: “Paris Hilton’s comments were to express that it is dangerous for anyone to have unprotected sex that could lead to a life threatening disease.”
“It was not her intent to make any derogatory comments about all gays,” they went on. “Paris Hilton is a huge supporter of the gay community and would never purposefully make any negative statements about anyone’s sexual orientation.”
More recently, Paris reluctantly confessed that she voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election during an appearance on the Australian TV show Thursday — despite previously telling CNBC: “My mom always told me not to talk about money or politics.”
Having already called Trump a “very nice man” and a “very sweet person” that she “likes a lot” on a personal level, Paris was pressed on whether or not he got her final vote. She eventually told the presenters: “I’ve known him since I’m a little girl, so yes.”
The following year, Paris dismissed Trump being recorded saying: “Grab them by the pussy” in an interview with Marie Claire, arguing: “I’ve heard guys say the craziest things ever, because I’m always around guys, and I listen to them speak.”
She went on to accuse the women who’d accused Trump of sexually assaulting them as “just trying to get attention and get fame.”
When she released her documentary in 2020, Rolling Stone reported that Paris claimed to have been “disillusioned” when it came to Trump’s presidency.
While most of the leaked videos of Paris have since been scrubbed from the internet, they have not been scrubbed from people’s memories — and at the weekend one Reddit user reignited the conversation when they asked: “Why does it seem everyone has forgotten Paris Hilton’s history of racist and homophobic remarks?”
In response, someone theorized that Paris has actually secured a younger generation of fans in recent years, who simply weren’t around when all of the scandals happened.
They wrote: “I don’t think it’s necessarily that people have forgotten, I think it’s that the new wave of Paris fans to come out of her resurgence never had any idea in the first place because they weren’t old enough to have been following her in the early 2000s.”
Another speculated: “Sometimes it’s people forgetting, sometimes it’s people outright excusing it, sometimes it’s people not knowing in the first place, and sometimes it’s people being nostalgic for the era she represents rather than actually liking her.”
One more observed: “A lot of things are easy for the public to forget when you’re a wealthy blonde hwite woman.”
While somebody else concluded: “her rebrand has been so effective that it’s not sending people looking.”
BuzzFeed News has contacted Paris Hilton’s representative for comment.
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