Since his debut into the blogosphere in 2004 Perez Hilton has gone from being a relatively unknown blogger talking smack about celebrities online to a verifiable celebrity in his own right. His blog was named, “Hollywood’s Most Hated Website on the Internet,” and now brings in millions of unique visitors each week. Hilton is not only a celebrity blogger, but an innovator in the world of public relations. His website has become incredibly influential; with one blog post he can launch the career of an unknown musician, and sway the opinions of thousands of viewers regarding a certain celebrity. Many celebs even use Perezhilton.com to exclusively make an announcement or address a situation; he has become the face of celebrity gossip but also celebrity PR.
Mario Lavandeira, also known by his pseudonym, “Perez Hilton,” has had a successful but tumultuous career blogging about the life and scandals of musicians, models, actresses and even politicians. He was initially known for posting pictures of celebrities and writing inflammatory comments or putting obscene drawings on their faces. His mean and sharp-witted commentary was a harsh critique on the public lives of celebrities, and his website became a source of embarrassment and ridicule for his victims. However, after a physical altercation in 2007 with the body guard of a famous pop star, a series of controversies involving various celebrities and an international scandal with a Miss America contestant, Hilton decided it was time to change the tone of his website.In a YouTube video, entitled, “I’m Going to Be Doing Things Differently,” Hilton announced that he would no longer put out negative, bullying or accusatory material on his blog. Not only did Perez want to change the content he was publishing on his website but he also wanted to change himself as well. As an openly gay man, Hilton realized that by “outing,” celebrities he believed were gay, or pointedly making light of serious situations, he was no different than the bullies who victimized him growing up.
I call Perez Hilton a “PR revolutionary” because he is an example of how a social media platform can be used to influence public perception. Perez himself was forced to publicly revamp his image and the tone of his blog due to various lawsuits, scandals and a personal crisis where he questioned his own morality. The negative response that he received from the media helped Perez realize the impact that his blog was having on his public image, but more importantly on his personal mentality.
The “new Perez,” is much less catty than the Perez of the past, but his new focus on positivity and encouragement has helped increase the popularity of his website. Celebrities are much more willing to open up to Perez; they no longer fear having their photo appear with a scathing remark below it. In fact, many celebrity publicists will leak a story to Perez Hilton in order to gain press for their client. Perez Hilton has risen far beyond social commentary and blogging, has become one of the most influential intermediaries between the public and the celebrities that fascinate them.