Can Perez Hilton Really Clean Up His Act?

Blogger and face scribbler Perez Hilton is taking to Ellen DeGeneres, YouTube, and Out magazine today to say that he's not going to bully celebrities on his website from now on. Is he serious or is this a PR stunt?

Perez Hilton (AKA Mario Lavandeira) claims that he will no longer bully famous people on his eponymous website, which became popular thanks to Perez drawing semen and cocaine on stars' faces, calling them names, and generally defaming anyone famous that he didn't care for. From the various statements he's made so far, here are the changes we can expect:

  • No more mean names for celebrities (like calling Jennifer Aniston "Maniston" or Sienna Miller "Sluttienna")
  • No more making fun of children
  • No more "cheap jokes"
  • No more outing gay celebrities
  • No more drawing inappropriate substances or phrases on people's pictures

Here is Perez's statement on YouTube:

The impetus for the decision, he says, is the media attention that's been given to gay teen suicides following incidents of bullying. Perez has been speaking out against the bullies who caused these tragedies, although critics have pointed out that he is just as much of a bully as the people he decries. (That just shows how popular a bully can be.)

I'm not that cynical to suggest that Perez is manufacturing his emotions to generate some publicity. But it certainly won't hurt his image. If he makes changes to his website, he'll likely engender a lot of good will from the gay community and from media outlets that have dismissed him as nothing but a name-caller with rudimentary Photoshop skills. And this is the perfect time to make the switch, when he can get the most attention (and get a talk show appearance) out of his actions.

But what happens after this initial wave of attention has passed? Perez says he doesn't care if his traffic goes down, but will anyone want to read his website when he's not exercising his patented brand of school yard "journalism?" Will he start to freak out and go back to his old ways when his traffic (and his ad revenues) start to dip?

Perez tells Out that he will no longer out gay public figures who are in the closet, like he did to Lance Bass once upon a time, but that he also would have still run pictures of gay writer Dustin Lance Black having unprotected sex with another man. How is outing off the table but posting private pictures still within the boundaries? It's OK to post those pictures because he's already out? Just what are the rules, Perez?

He also says that from now on he's not going to be "mean," but he's still going to be "sassy" and "have opinions." We guess the only difference between "mean" and "sassy" is how an opinion has been expressed, but it is sort of an invisible and subjective divide.

In the past, the site represented the wild, wild west of gossip blogging; Perez could say or do anything he wanted and couldn't really be held accountable for his actions. Now he's stuck himself with a set of standards and people will be able to judge whether or not he's standing by his promises. His actions will prove whether this is a passing phase meant to churn up attention or some real evolution in the way he does business. Everyone deserves the right to grow up, but now that Perez outlined his own rules, we'll be able to see whether he's following a new course and acting like an adult, or if this is just another childish stunt to get himself noticed.

Update: On today's episode, Ellen DeGeneres seemed as skeptical about Perez's about-face as we are.

[Image via Getty]