Paris Hilton Garners Little Sympathy From Americans

by Lydia Saad

Other troubled, young, female celebrities not far behind

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The "Brat Pack" was a name popularized in the 1980s for a group of actors and actresses acclaimed as rising young movie stars. Today -- according to what Americans think about Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Richie -- Hollywood has given us the Spoiled Brat Pack.

These icons for the excesses of the "Me-Generation" have provided a continual source of fodder for the tabloids with their personal exploits, variously involving alcohol, drugs, traffic violations, and, in the case of Spears, parenting controversies. Currently, Hilton is in jail for violating her probation in a drunk driving case.

According to a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, conducted June 1-3, 2007, Americans are widely unsympathetic to all four women, but especially to Hilton. Only 10% feel any measure of sympathy for the hotel heiress, while 8 in 10 are unsympathetic toward her. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Americans (63%) feel very unsympathetic toward Hilton, somewhat higher than the 51% saying this of Spears.

Richie and Lohan generate slightly lower levels of public antipathy, but this is largely because a higher percentage of Americans can't rate them. Americans are no more likely to feel sympathetic toward them than they are toward Spears.

Next, thinking about some of the young celebrities in Hollywood today, based on what you know and have seen in the news, do you feel -- very sympathetic, somewhat sympathetic, somewhat unsympathetic, or very unsympathetic -- toward -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

 

Very symp.

Somewhat symp.

Somewhat unsymp.

Very unsymp.

Total unsymp.

%

%

%

%

%

Paris Hilton

2

8

17

63

80

Britney Spears

3

15

22

51

73

Lindsay Lohan

3

14

21

45

66

Nicole Richie

3

13

20

42

62

Americans are generally not optimistic that any of the four will soon conquer the demons that seem to continually put them in compromising situations. No more than 1 in 3 believes any of them will overcome their problems in the next few years, while 6 in 10 believe Hilton will continue to face difficulty for the foreseeable future, and more than half say this of Spears. Close to half also believe Lohan and Richie will continue to have problems.

Just your best guess, do you think -- [RANDOM ORDER] -- will continue to have serious personal problems for the foreseeable future, or do you think she will be able to overcome her problems in the next few years?

 

2007 Jun 1-3

Continue to have problems

Will be able to overcome problems

No opinion

%

%

%

Paris Hilton

61

24

15

Britney Spears

53

33

14

Lindsay Lohan

47

31

22

Nicole Richie

46

29

25

What's to Blame?

Why do so many young Hollywood celebrities seem to be on a destructive bent with their lives? Americans blame a variety of factors unique to the Hollywood spotlight, but they also say poor parenting is a major cause. They also believe that media exposure overstates the problem relative to the rest of society.

Gallup asked respondents to rate the importance of four different factors as reasons young Hollywood celebrities get into trouble, and of these having too much money at a young age is seen as the most influential. Nearly four in five Americans (79%) perceive this to be a major reason for some celebrities' bad behavior. Slightly fewer -- about two-thirds -- rate the pressure of fame at a young age and negative influence of the Hollywood culture as a major reason. Poor parenting is rated nearly as high.

As you may know, the behavior of some young Hollywood celebrities has gotten them into trouble recently. Just your best guess, do you think each of the following is a major reason, a minor reason, or not a reason for their problems? How about -- [RANDOM ORDER]?

 

2007 Jun 1-3

Major reason

Minor reason

Not a reason

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

Having too much money at a young age

79

13

6

2

The pressures of fame at a young age

68

21

9

2

Negative influences of the Hollywood culture

65

20

11

4

Parents doing a poor job raising them

63

23

10

4

The average young adult in the United States doesn't have the pressures of wealth, fame, or Hollywood culture to deal with, and as such would seem to be at lower risk of being corrupted. Nevertheless, most Americans say young Hollywood celebrities are no more likely than other young people to get into trouble -- just when they do, it makes news.

Men and women share similar perspectives toward each of the celebrity women reviewed.

Young adults are a bit more understanding of the stars than are older adults, but not by much. Adults aged 18 to 34 are about twice as likely as those aged 55 and older to feel sympathetic toward Lohan and Richie. They are only slightly more likely to be sympathetic toward Spears, but no more likely to sympathize with Hilton. However, the vast majority of all age groups feels unsympathetic toward each woman.

 

Percentage Sympathetic Toward Each, by Age

 

18-34

35-54

55+

 

%

%

%

Hilton

11

10

9

Spears

22

20

15

Richie

22

16

12

Lohan

23

18

14

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,007 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 1-3, 2007. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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