Celebrity Culture and Why the Paparazzi Isn’t the Problem

I recently read an article about yet another act of aggressive (if not disgusting) behavior by a paparazzi (paparazzo?).  The incident involved insulting a seven year old (Suri Cruise), and while I think the behavior was despicable, I believe it pales in comparison to the behavior of the consumer who purchases gossip/celebrity/tabloid/etc. magazines.

You cannot stand on higher moral ground than the person taunting a child to get a photo if you then consume that photo.  Placing the blame on the paparazzi is a bit like believing that the shift supervisor in a sweat shop is the person to blame when in fact, it is us, buying the shoes who are really to blame (or at the very least the company who chooses said factory…though we’re still worse).  Our society functions on supply and demand, and if there were no demand for celebrity photos, there would be no sleazy behavior to get them.

To be clear, I am in no way condoning the behavior of the cameraman.  Insulting a child is pretty disgusting.  But what is more disgusting is the perpetuation of the involuntary invasion of personal privacy.  And while the argument could be made that celebrities themselves sign up for this–Hollywood and business and all that–I would make the argument of so what?!  I mean, is that really the most reasonable argument?  Are we really telling people that if they book a job that requires anytime in the public eye that they are forgoing all sense of privacy and are essentially public property for the rest of their natural lives?  That’s insane.

While I think the paparazzi was clearly in the wrong here I think it’s worth noting who the real culprit(s) are: the people who buy tabloid magazines (including the high-brow, if there is even such a thing, ones like Us Magazine, In Touch Weekly, Star, and People, not to mention all the websites and TV Shows like TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, etc.).

I recently wrote an article about bullying and how (and I’m generalizing here), society as a whole looks at the bully, to place blame, and upon the bully’s immediate influences. When, in actuality, the blame lies with society. For example, girls are so often bullied over sexual choices (with whom, at what age, with what ease, with how many, etc.). But, if we as a society didn’t judge the sexuality of women (in attempts to suppress their pleasure and happiness under the guise of morality and virtue), bullies would have no ammo. (here is the article for a better explanation)

To bring my point back to this article–if people stopped buying the magazines that invade the privacy of celebrities–paparazzi wouldn’t have a job that entails invading the privacy of celebrities. While this particular paparazzo acted horribly, in many ways, he was just doing his job by whatever means necessary. For all we know, he’s the single breadwinner in a house of 5 children just trying to make ends meet, and while this in no way justifies his behavior, you have to wonder who is more in the wrong, this person doing his job or the consumer wasting their money in order to know/see the private lives of celebrities?  Who is perpetuating this cycle of personal invasion?  Who is the demand that this paparazzo is supplying?

And don’t get me wrong, I’ve read articles about celebrities on the internet and I’ve read a People or two in the nail salon, and I’ve even gone as far as to read the old copies of Us Weekly that a friend subscribes to.  I’m simply saying, that the first step in the right direction is to accurately portray the real scenario and to assign blame where it logically goes, on us.  After all, you can’t fix a problem until you can figure out what it is.