In today’s society one type of institution runs by a different set of rules, an array of distorted decrees which only come into question when controversy strikes and the damage has been done. The media and the paparazzi are the modern day Bonnie and Clyde.
Home. It’s where the proverbial heart is, where you can get a decent mayo sandwich, where you can pee with the door open and pick your nose. Now, imagine a home filled with fear and anxiety as the clamour of maleficent strangers outside fills you with fear. Perhaps they are even looking in at the bathroom window. This is but a day in the life of a celebrity. On a daily basis, the famous people are being hunted down by paparazzi or ‘The Paps’, just so they can get the so called ‘perfect shot’ which they will exchange for blood money from the editor at Controversial News inc.
Why is it that in today’s civil society, it is considered acceptable for a celebrity to be ruthlessly stalked by the paparazzi?
In a recent television debate, publicist Neil Wallis said that significant figures in popular culture “deserve to be stalked by paparazzi” as they knew what they were letting themselves in for when they signed up. I’m not so sure about that. Is it fair for a bus driver to be verbally abused because it is ‘part of the job’? Suggesting that celebrities knew they were going to be stalked by paparazzi when they began their quest for fame is both facetious and a large stretch of the truth. When a child actor begins their journey in ‘The Industry’, they shouldn’t have to think of the downsides of the job (which they likely wildly underestimate), but to envisage the rewards.
Whatever the downsides of celebrity culture and the fame game, it does seem unreasonable to permit celebrities constant stalking, pursuing and surveilling simply due to their unlikely career path (and possible talent!). Why should they be penalised merely for possessing a skill?
Some celebrities have even taken drastic measures in order to protect their privacy! Australian singer Sia has never shown her face in a public performance, performing with her back to the camera in order for her to be unrecognisable by photographers. Singer Taylor Swift has resorted to walking backwards out of her house so that not a single cameraman can get a shot of her face. Furthermore, Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe wore the same T-shirt and jeans combo every day for a year so that all photographers would achieve ‘the same old shot’.
Maybe you think I’m being overly sympathetic to people who really have a pretty cool life? I have two words for you – Princess Diana. In a debate against the freedom of the press, Princess Diana is widely considered the top trump. The mere mention of the former Princess of Wales can precede a series of groans from the opposition. However, these groans should not be interpreted as an individual’s disapproval of the use of an extreme a case study, but instead as an admission of defeat.
Not only is the Diana case a prime example of the dangers of the press overstepping the line, but it also shows how totally untouchable the press are. Why?
Because nothing has changed.
Nothing has changed, not even in the slightest. Talks between the media and governmental bodies have been held, but nonetheless, those in the public eye are pursued by photographers every waking minute. I’m certain that if these weren’t ‘celebrities’, it would be considered stalking and/or harassment, both of which are illegalised under the Protection from Harassment Act (1997).
Unfortunately such legislation does not affect the paparazzi. The entire conundrum is fuelled by our very real/urgent demand for photos of celebrities going about their day – wearing ripped jeans or eating *not a salad* or whatever. There is no legislation which instructs news editors on which photos they can or cannot use.
However, I reckon those who purchase these celebrity photographs (in whatever form) should take it upon themselves to reject any photos which have obviously been taken in an unethical manner. Although TBF, this is wildly optimistic as magazines with sensational headlines accompanied by “striking” pictures of pale-faced celebrities on bad-hair-days tend to hold great appeal – and I’m not taking a moral high-ground here. This is the reality of our society.
I’m going to argue that the society we live in today is a dictatorship. The mass media, who thoughtlessly plaster the shelves of newsagents with black market photos, are Rasputin and the so called professional celebrity photographers are the Secret Police. Whenever you visit a media outlet filled to the brim with tabloid newspapers or visit a news website with a controversial headline think,“Do I want to be fuelling this unscrupulous industry?”
written by Louis, Year 12