Bling Ring Banquet

“So you got some skin in the game/well I got my Flesh in the Fame/just like a moth to the flame.” – Paris Hilton quoting Kanye West

“One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s illogical belief is another person’s survival skill. And nothing is more logical than trying to survive.” Tressie Mcmillan Cottom on why poor people buy luxury goods.

What’s Los Angeles without a juicy scandal involving celebrities being repeatedly robbed by fame-obsessed minors? The Bling Ring, a loose assortment of status craven Calabasas teenagers, used various social media platforms to triangulate the location of actors and socialites to case and burglarize their homes. These kids demonstrated a mixture of unsavory resourcefulness, devotee fanaticism, and enviable moxie; some would say the very same characteristics anyone would need to make it in Hollywood. What these kids confirmed, more importantly, was that if you are in the unfortunate position of being a nobody teenager in a culture that is obsessed with striving to be a “somebody,” it may seem perfectly reasonable to steal some status from those who have more than they know what to do with. If Los Angeles is a city whose main industry is fame, and since fame runs on the admiration of others, then the infamy of committing grand larceny against those who are famous is an understandable logic.

And why do some of us foolishly admire celebrities? Anthropologist Jamie Tehrani thinks our 21st-century obsession with celebrity is not that unique and is rooted in something far more ancient and fundamental: human learning. According to Tehrani, whenever we want to be better at something, we tend to copy those people who are deemed ‘prestigious,’ individuals widely admired and respected due to their superior skill. For example, say a successful hunter performs an incantation at the same time as they sharpen their arrowheads in a specific way, the mediocre hunter adopts both the ritual as well as the sharpening techniques for arrows. Tehrani speculates that the useless trait of the ritual is copied as faithfully as the skill because it’s better to mimic both if you don’t know exactly which one leads to more successful kills. Copying the most prestigious people to advance ourselves means the useful and the ‘un-useful’ are both deemed logically necessary from the copier’s point of view.

So like a teenager’s ‘illogical belief’ that wearing a ripped-off Rolex from Orlando Bloom will transfer a little of his prestige, the ‘useless’ aspects of status like an expensive watch become an adaptive strategy in a culture of celebrity which is just another way of saying status worship. Why? Well no time in history has ‘prestige’ been correlated less to abilities than it is today, when people are increasingly famous for merely holding our attention, which means admiration no longer reliably points to anything but attention itself, and that means the useless traits of visibility are now the useful traits of “survival.”

So for this bodacious banquet, we will create a series of courses around the question: who is built for this new world of attention? The premise of the meal is based on the Lemon Drop experiment, popular amongst personality psychologists, which is a test used to determine the biogenic source of a person’s personality by measuring the saliva production when tasting the sourness of a lemon! Individuals who are introverted produce more saliva to neutralize the sourness of lemons while extroverts’ higher tolerance for excitement means they typically salivate less. Since we are in the land of orange groves and citrus, we will be experimenting with dishes that may reveal who’s a crippling introvert, an adaptive ambivert, or an insatiable extrovert.

And to be as authentically attention-seeking as possible, we will be hosting the entirety of this celebration of citrus and celebrity mukbang style! Mukbang, originating from South Korea, is ‘live broadcast eating to a mass audience,’ usually featuring one person, usually a woman, eating an insane amount of calories. Since the Mukbang is the perfect merger of spectacle and sustenance, it only seems fitting for our Bling Ring Banquet. We at Los Angeles Eats Itself would never condone criminal acts but who wouldn’t love to watch a live stream of Paris Hilton opening up her Meneghini La Cambusa only to scarf down 2000 calories worth of lemon posset!

Join Los Angeles Eats Itself as we create a course of edible effigies worthy of all the parasocial relationships we have nurtured with our celebrities of choice, because who else is going to feed the fandoms; the standing social media armies can’t be sustained on likes alone.