Breaking Code Silence

Photo by Paris Hilton, uploaded to Instagram on September 28, 2020,

In Paris Hilton’s debut Youtube documentary, “This is Paris”, she bares her soul to the camera and exposes many deeply repressed traumas that surface for the first time since her teenage years. The documentary, released on September 14 of this year, has already accrued over fourteen million views and garnered sympathy alike from opponents of Hilton’s lifestyle and media presence.


As she focuses in on the subject of her childhood trauma, Hilton painfully describes facilities she ironically refers to as “emotional growth schools” that she was sent to several times throughout her adolescent years. She explained that sometimes people would come in the middle of the night to take her to these places against her will. Once there, the situation only worsened. She explains that the worst one was Provo Canyon school in which she paints vivid scenarios of solitary confinement, sexual assault, verbal abuse, and forced medications doled out to her and her peers.


Hilton speaks over a woeful animation of her as a child trapped in the facility, “They would prescribe everyone all these pills. I didn’t know what they were giving me. I would just feel so tired and numb.”


Once this sorrowful childhood is revealed, it is easier for the average person to understand the reason Hilton became so determined to chase fame and money as a budding adult. 


“I was at Provo for eleven months and the only thing that saved my sanity was thinking about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become when I got out of there,” Hilton states shakily. 


The documentary proposes a call to action: breaking code silence. Code silence generally refers to a technique utilized in the aforementioned residential treatment centers Hilton found herself in. The teenagers are forced into silence for long periods to promote social isolation from peers and make the children more malleable to program workers. Without the ability for communication, adolescents find themselves disconnected from reality and numb to their surroundings.


Near the end of the documentary, there is a scene in which Hilton and her formed peers from Provo Canyon School get together at Hilton’s house. They are making posters that list the center they were held at, the years they were there, and the long-lasting effects of their time spent there. They then photograph each other holding up their individual signs with red tape over their mouths to signify the silence they were forced to endure. These images were then shared over social media to shed light on a niche horror that the average person may not even consider. 


The Breaking Code Silence website archives many stories from other child victims of the facilities and resources for people to go to. They list three main goals that the movement hopes to do: educate, investigate, and legislate. 


Overall, “This is Paris” helped show that even seemingly untouchable celebrities often have dark pasts they may not share with the world. In addition, it proved to many that it is never too late to speak about injustices that have happened to them even if they seem too distant and foggy to touch.