Approaching the pop culture event horizon

(Updated Sept. 1, 9:50 a.m.) The consensus is probably that Paris Hilton might just be the downfall of American civilization.

She's famous for nothing but being famous, but how did she become famous? She was famous before "One Night in Paris," after all. But, really, she essentially stands on nothing tangible when it comes to her fame. Oh sure, now she has an album and a fledgling -- non-homemade-porn -- acting career. And a fashion line. And she's a big-ticket party favor. And she has some video games. OK, she's actually doing something with herself now instead of taping herself have sex and not just running around banking on the Hilton name. But, c'mon, we can't forget how inane her presence on the American pop culture landscape was for so many years in the early aughts.

But if you actually sit down and think about -- line up all the accomplishments and where everything is coming from -- and look at things intelligently, Paris isn't all that bad. Judging from how Blender magazine portrayed her in their most recent issue, she's the 21st century Marilyn Monroe. And there's nothing wrong with Marilyn.

In fact, Paris isn't really that annoying anymore. Sure, her whole deal can get tiresome; anyone's can if they're in the public eye long enough. But she is no longer the worst thing about American culture. No, that mantle has been past to Kevin Federline. And actually, if you go back to that intelligent thinking about things for a minute, you'll realize that his whole deal is much worse -- and much more nefarious -- than Paris is or ever was.

I'm going to go out on a limb and make the following broad statement: K-Fed is the worst thing to ever emerge out of American pop culture since there was ever such a thing.

What must an outsider to American culture think when they turn on the television and see someone like K-Fed prancing around on-stage, attempting to rap and only pulling off looking like a spoiled brat whose parents had too much money to blow on his sweet 16 and bought him a performance slot on a C-list awards show? (Watch this nonsense here.)

Here's a guy, K-Fed, who was a no-name back-up dancer who was involved with a low-rent actress, had two children and when his girlfriend was pregnant with child two dumped her for Britney Spears. (The promise of dollars always wins out over the fate of diapers, it would seem.) He has no discernable talent -- he was a back-up dancer for LFO, for crissakes -- and after dating and marrying Britney gets a recording contract, a reality TV show, ins with showbiz folk, spots on awards shows to "perform" and a grade AA meal ticket -- and all the perks that come with it: cars, a big home, servants, etc. According to Wikipedia, Britney gave K-Fed a Ferrari 360 Spider -- a 2005 model is fetching $247,500 on one Web site.

Now, K-Fed is going to be appearing on "CSI:" this season -- presumably for one episode -- as an "arrogant teen," according to the Internet Movie Database. Here's what the man, the myth, the legend had to say about it:

"This is pretty much my first time acting. It's the first time I've actually had a speaking role. I was doing stuff for the Teen Choice Awards and got the call while we were rehearsing and I p**sed in my pants! I was excited right off the bat. It's the only show that I really, really watch." (The story can be found here.)

(K-Fed, it was reported on IMDB on Sept. 1, will also be appearing in a three-episode arc on "Entourage" as -- are you ready for this? -- himself.)

Let's go back to that outsider for a minute. He/she is confronted with this lump of humanity, K-Fed, who prior to meeting -- and subsequently ruining -- one of America's great pop stars was a bottom-rung nobody. Then, he meets the pop star and has the world handed to him on a silver platter. He conducts himself like a buffoon and goes out to the press and admits to soling himself (apparently he's incontinent in addition to incompetent). And he thinks he's not only talented but deserving of the riches that have befallen him despite not doing one thing besides marrying the right meal ticket.

Compare this to Paris. While she conducts herself with plenty of buffoonery and acts like a whiny, spoiled brat, she didn't marry into what she has. She didn't start off a street urchin and become a slutty Holly Golightly. You can say what you want about it, but she has the money to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. She has the name to do the same. If she wants a Ferrari, she buys it; she doesn't marry someone to get it. If she wants to cut a record, she throws some cash around and makes it happen; she doesn't marry someone with contacts in the right areas of the record business.

Where Paris Hilton is a slight annoyance, K-Fed is a barnacle on the rusty hull of America. He's one of those leeches used to cure people of diseases but instead kills them.

The outsider watching in awe the rise of K-Fed would be just as confused and outraged about his ascension to the ranks of pop culture relevance as they would be about Paris's. But it would be for wholly different reasons. Paris is a representation of the ungodly excess that exists in the US. In many ways, she's an extension of this country's Gilded Age of the Astors and Fricks and the like. K-Fed, on the other hand, is indicative of the growing culture of entitlement in America. K-Fed gets what he wants because, as Britney's husband, he feels entitled to it. A new sportscar? Dude, I'm a celebrity's husband! A recording deal? Dude, my old lady sings, so I deserve to, too! Acting? Dude, like, dude!

As I think about it more and more, I don't really mind Paris Hilton -- because I can turn her off and forget she exists. Paris operates on this plane, now, where she's not always in front of a camera. So if you don't want to deal with her, you turn the radio station, you don't go to her movie (or rent it), you don't buy the magazine she's in. Paris has shown something of an evolution. She knows that not everyone wants to see her everyday, all day. And she doesn't want to be seen that often, either.

But K-Fed is something else entirely. He won't let you ignore him. Just when you think you've escaped his "rapping," he pops up on the Teen Choice Awards. Just when you think you'll never see him on TV again, he pops up on one of the highest-rated shows on TV. Just when you think you've escaped him, you turn around and he's everywhere. He doesn't want you to forget he's there.

After all, he's entitled to the spotlight and the attention. Dude.