Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How I Feel About The Paparazzi

I also think of them as the "stalkerazzi."  And I guess that pretty much tells you how I feel about them.

Some of you may not know who the paparazzi are.  Basically, they are photographers who get paid for skulking about, sneaking up on famous people -- such as actors, directors, models, politicians -- and taking "candid" pictures of them.  Some of these paparazzi individuals have even been known to climb fences or trees in order to take pictures of celebrities through the windows of their own homes.  More often, though, the pictures are taken in public places -- like restaurants, night clubs, shopping malls, sidewalks, parking lots, grocery stores, and beaches -- as the famous people attempt to go about their daily lives.  And, frequently, these photographers seem to delight in showing us images of these people when they are at less than their best.  A beautiful actress might be photographed wearing a rather unflattering outfit, with her hair a bit askew, her face devoid of make-up.  In short, the beautiful woman might be caught looking like me.  But, nobody is taking pictures of me.  Thanks be to God.  And it's not only the women who are preyed upon by the paparazzi.  Men are targets just as frequently.

We are all exposed to these images.  They are, basically, inescapable.  They confront us when we are in line at the grocery store, when we are in the waiting room at our dentist's office, when we go online, even when we read the newspaper.  I think most of us have come to just accept these pictures as a fact of life.  We don't think about them very much.  We might even figure that being photographed by the paparazzi is just something celebrities need to accept with at least a certain amount of grace.  "The price of fame" and all that.  And it is true that these "stalkers of the rich and famous" aren't going to go away any time soon.

Lately, though, I have been thinking a little more about these images.  Why?  Well, sometimes, I see a paparazzi-taken picture of a celebrity I might happen to like, who seems like a good soul.  And in the paparazzi-taken photo, that individual is looking pretty annoyed.  It is clear that he or she has seen the photographer and is not happy about it.  The celebrity is wearing a facial expression which, if he or she were to look at me that way, would pretty much cause me to sink into the ground and die.  You know the old saying -- "if looks could kill."  And I think to myself, "Even though it is apparently legal for that photographer to be taking these types of pictures, is it really ethical or respectful?"  I also ask myself, "Should I even be looking at these pictures?  In looking at these pictures, am I actually contributing to the whole 'paparazzi phenomenon'?"

Does this mean that I am never again going to look at "People Magazine" while I am sitting under the dryer at the salon?  Probably not.  But, I am going to pause and think a little more before I look at certain images that may be floating about the internet or other types of media.  I might ask myself if the subject of the photo was actually a willing subject.  I will wonder if the lovely actress captured on film while she happened to be wearing a rather ill-fitting swimsuit would have her picture removed from that newspaper if she legally could.

(Note.  I know that there is no 'film' anymore.  It is just an expression.)

I mean, you can think of it this way.  There are plenty of "official" events where celebrities of all different varieties are knowingly and willingly photographed.  They come prepared -- showered, teeth brushed, hair styled, make-up done, dressed "to the nines."  They smile and laugh and good-naturedly share themselves with us.  Plenty of pictures get taken, which we can all enjoy, while knowing that nobody has had his or her privacy invaded.  It's a win-win.  We get to see photos of dazzling movie stars as they ham it up for the cameras at a charity ball.  And, the next day, maybe we should allow these same movie stars to get their grocery shopping done unmolested by unwanted and ethically questionable stalkers armed with expensive camera gear.   

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