The line between paparazzi “doing their job” and harassment is a mighty fine one. In the opinions of Prince William, Kate and a French court, it has again been crossed with the recent topless sunbathing shots.
They’re upset that her naked body has been broadcast to the world. They’re upset because, a half-mile from the nearest public road, they thought they were in private. And he’s particularly upset at the whole business of papping, not least because a flurry of paparazzi combined with a drunk driver caused the car crash in which his mother died.
These are all understandable complaints that are hard to take issue with, and not just because she’s a Duchess. Most women in the public eye would likely welcome, and deserve, a higher degree of privacy.
Whilst far bigger things are going on in the world than topless photos, it is understandable that, before they start a family, the Duke and Duchess want to make a legal stand by suing for invasion of privacy against an industry that they feel needs reining in.
The thing is, while the paparazzi is one problem, they’re not the only problem.
I’d venture a good number of us have looked at pictures of naked adults posing on the internet. That’s not the issue. Where it gets a little creepy is looking at pictures of naked people who not only didn’t consent, but didn’t even know they were being photographed. The moral compass of your average paparazzi is iffy at best, but they’re not the ones looking at their work sat in front of your computer.
This is the crux of the paparazzo’s defense in these matters. Freedom of the press is a broad old thing that allows them to camp in their dozens outside of the homes of troubled starlets who appear on the brink of a nervous breakdown. While they aren’t press per se, they are giving people what they want to see.
For adult celebrities who sought fame for fame’s sake –many reality TV stars, for instance- it’s tough to have any sympathy for the intrusion. Similar goes for famous people caught up in scandal, however subjective that may be. But it’s a shame for those born into fame, or actresses and singers who achieved celebrity through talent rather than self-promotion. Often preferring to stay out of the limelight when not performing, barely a day passes that they’re not constantly called out for being too skinny or too fat like it matters a damn.
Technically, there is no public interest in displaying voyeuristic pictures of a married couple on private property. If either one of William or Kate was undressed with another man or woman then cite press freedom and get it to print, but absent that there should be no value to scandal-less pictures
That said, no matter how much they infringe on the rights of their subjects, totally doing away with the paparazzi’s right to take photos is a slippery slope. They should certainly be licensed, and subject to losing that license or heavily fined if found guilty of misconduct. The strictest laws -one must consent to their photo being taken- and measures are in place in France, but that’s exactly where the Middleton shots were taken. There is a limit to what further laws can and can’t achieve in the internet age.
Ass a la Carte
Achieving box office success or being born with a silver spoon certainly causes automatic resentment among the small-minded – “With all that money who cares how they’re treated?” Sadly, there will always be people who think that people are defined by the size of their bank balance -large or small- rather than the way they lead their life.
In a perfect world, the paparazzi would behave with common decency (as we all would). Thing is, these people want to get paid and the job rewards aggression. Wrestling to the front of a crowd and clicking snap for a picture can be worth thousands. It’s simple enough to make you question why you sit at a desk all day and an affront to the talented war photographers who work for a relative pittance in bringing us pictures that matter.
But this is the day we live in, and while more laws restricting paparazzo’s behavior may help a little they’ll only serve as speed bumps. The road-block would be getting the general public to change its perverted view on what constitutes entertainment.
Talking-the-talk about women’s rights and how beauty is on the inside is all too often drowned out by people walking-the-walk to celebrity gossip sites. Mouses click, body-snarking begins, ad cash rolls in, more people decide to become paparazzi, more pictures, more clicks, more ads, more cash.
The solution is simple, but it’d mean a whole lot of people practicing what they preach.
pic from laist.com