In an attempt to get a photo of Justin Bieber for whatever blog du jour or celeb mag is running those articles about “what Justin is really like”, a paparazzo was hit and killed by a car. Apparently Bieber was pulled over on the freeway and for some brilliant reason, this paparazzo decided to dart through traffic to get a photo. I don’t mean to be blithe. A man was killed. That’s terrible. It’s just that I can’t imagine why a photo of Justin Bieber is so important that you would think, “Yeah, I should definitely run across a freeway.”
According to a Forbes article in 2007, a photo of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chilling on the beach got someone $500,000. $500,000. And this was in ’07. Paparazzi are an industry now, and bigger than ever.
It’s said that the first paparazzi were photographers in Italy clamoring for photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in the midst of their affair while filming Cleopatra, though the term “paparazzi” came from a photographer character named Paparazzo in Federico Fellini’s 1960s film La Dolce Vita.
Miley Cyrus weighed in on the Bieber/paparazzi situation on her twitter, exclaiming, “Paparazzi are dangerous! Wasn’t Princess Di enough of a wake up call?!” That’s a good question. Apparently not. Whoever Bieber’s publicist is should be applauded for having Bieber release this thoughtful and well-composed comment:
“While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim. Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders and the photographers themselves.”
What’s good about this comment is that it doesn’t directly focus on placing blame on the photographers themselves. Rather, it opens up a discussion about celebrity in general. Yes, paparazzi are a nasty bunch, there’s really no arguing with that.
But here’s the thing. We are all responsible for this. We continue to buy these magazines and visit these blogs that thrive on paparazzi photos.
And there are some celebrities who are responsible for not shunning the free publicity. If you’re a major actor and you claim that you want privacy, it may not be the best idea to be on the cover of every magazine and talk about your personal life in every interview on every network. There are many actors who see acting as a job and as an art form and this gives them some distance from inviting paparazzi into their lives. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have publicists and shouldn’t appear on magazines. That’s good for their career. I totally get that. But then there are actors and whatever Kim Kardashian is (I don’t mean this as an insult, I really don’t know what to refer to her as in terms of a profession) who openly invite photographers to follow them around. And then when one day they want privacy, they complain that they can’t get it.
Why not focus on our own lives and our own joys and triumphs instead of celebrities? Let’s enjoy what they do and what they make rather than which supermarket they go to or how they “really” look without makeup. This is a circle, two snakes biting each other’s tails, and we can fix it. Every time we comment on a blog, “Wow, she looks awful in a bathing suit” or whip out a cell phone to take a photo of Keanu Reeves looking sad on a bench (okay, that one was kind of worth it) we’re saying, “Yes, give us more, give us more of this, we’re giving you our time and our money, keep it coming, don’t ever stop.”
Featured image by Life Magazine.