Paris Hilton is still in jail.
This fact can be confirmed at IsParisInJailRightNow.com. Go there and you'll get a one-word answer that takes up half your computer screen: YES.
If, by some odd turn of events, Paris is no longer in jail, you'll most likely see a NO, but for the time being Paris is behind bars and bloggers can continue to revel in the absurdity of the situation, not the least of which includes their own over-the-top consumption of this non-story.
Bloggers and Web denizens have good reason to perpetuate the Paris media circus. Every good big top event comes with a sideshow. The Paris sideshow is online, and while sites like IsParisInJailRightNow seek little more than a quick laugh, others are hoping to cash in.
ParisAnkleBracelet.com is selling plastic "Viva la Paris" bracelets for $4 apiece, stating: "Our goal is to have 5,000 bracelets out in the streets in 5 weeks!"
And make some fast cash.
Along those lines, Cafe Press, the ubiquitous online T-shirt shop, is flooded with dozens of Paris-themed T-shirts, from "Free Paris" to "My Undisclosed Medical Condition Didn't Get Me Out of Jail."
FreeParis.org takes the merchandising to an elaborate new level. The site claims to be an "organization dedicated to mobilizing the fans and friends of Paris to action, against LA County Superior Court's wrongful jail sentence" yet it also has an active market area where people can buy and sell their unofficial Paris wares.
TheDollPalace.com is selling generic Paris dolls on its Web site, and someone a little more timely on eBay recently auctioned off a Paris Hilton prison doll. "This is a Simple Life Jail edition doll," the description stated. "Comes with jail accessories like -- jail window, handcuffs, LA County number sign, mugshot wall, and ball & chain. Also comes with a matching purse, and tinkerbell chihuahua."
It seems that everywhere you look online, someone is peddling something Paris-related -- glasses, mugs, bumper stickers, buttons and just about anything else one can slap her name on. And, yes, the infamous home movie is still floating around out there, too.
Many have been unsurprisingly horrified by the Paris show and all that it entails. Slate columnist Christopher Hitchens worked himself up into a rage in describing the madness of the non-event.
"Not content with seeing her undressed and variously penetrated, it seems to be assumed that we need to watch her being punished and humiliated as well," Hitchens wrote last week. "The supposedly 'broad-minded' culture turns out to be as prurient and salacious as the elders in The Scarlet Letter. Hilton is legally an adult but the treatment she is receiving stinks -- indeed it reeks -- of whatever horrible, buried, vicarious impulse underlies kiddie porn and child abuse."
The truth is that madness surrounding Paris often has very little to actually do with Paris these days. While many will mock her, and some will genuinely rally to support her, a large part of the Paris circus is merely unrestrained lowbrow capitalism in action. Wherever the media big top goes, the peddlers of trinkets and charms will follow. This is a certainty in the Internet era.
Even so, some bloggers resisted temptation.
Rex Sorgatz at Fimoculous.com did, however, lament his missed opportunity: "Because of a previous project, I own the domain watchingparis.com. This should have been the week I tried to sell it."