In Defense of Solange, Jay-Z and Celebrity Privacy
If you have eyes and WiFi, then you’ve probably read about the Solange and Jay-Z debacle that occurred after the Met Gala last weekend. The story is headlining everywhere, probably because everyone is trying to figure out what the hell even happened: the Knowles-Carter Dynasty is just not known for this kind of drama. So far, all we do know is that Jay-Z, Beyonce, Solange, and their bodyguard got into the elevator, and Solange immediately went after Bey’s husband. The bodyguard seemingly pressed the emergency button so that the fight wouldn’t leave the elevator, but unfortunately the footage from said elevator leaked and landed straight into TMZ’s blogosphere.
Yesterday, the Internet had its way with the scandal; Twitter and Facebook are still abuzz with memes, hashtags like #WhatJayZSaidToSolange, and #jayz100thproblem are trending, and everyone is publicly speculating over what exactly occurred. Is Jay-Z cheating on Beyoncé? Was Solange drunk? The thing is, it’s none of our business. First of all, it’s not our business to joke about it. Solange got physical with her sister’s husband, and this kind of violence isn’t a laughing matter. But most importantly, it’s not our business period — this was meant to be a personal, private matter.
When you get into an elevator, the last thing you probably think about is whether you’re being filmed, and if that film will exploit you and your privacy. I get that every institution has a right to install cameras in public places: lobbies, bars, hallways, and even elevators. These cameras, however, are used to prevent and monitor criminal activity. Their purpose isn’t to spy on patrons, it’s to protect them. A publicist for The Standard (the hotel the Knowles-Carter crew were staying at for an after-party) stated, “We are shocked and disappointed that there was a clear breach of our security system and the confidentiality that we count on providing our guests. We are investigating with the utmost urgency the circumstances surrounding the situation and, as is our customary practice, will discipline and prosecute the individuals to our fullest capacity.” Clearly the video was leaked by a hotel employee who was probably paid by TMZ to release it. The Standard is upset because it makes them look bad as a hotel, and obviously Jay-Z, Solange, Beyoncé, and their PR team are even more upset because that was a huge infringement of privacy.
It’s natural to be drawn to celebrity gossip; I find myself mindlessly scrolling through entertainment websites every day to see who’s dating who, and who’s wearing what. However, one family’s (no matter how well known they are) private dispute is not supposed to be a source of entertainment (unless they sign away their rights to Jerry Springer). When something is happening behind closed doors, it’s meant to stay behind closed doors. Simply because Solange is famous doesn’t make her public property we have the right to gawk at.
Honestly, I’m disappointed by TMZ for releasing this video. When I saw it, I saw a family involved in an intensely personal, private feud that has nothing to do with us. The hypotheses circulating around Solange, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé’s behavior are uncalled for; it’s none of our concern. We never should have even been privy to this information to begin with. If a celebrity isn’t even safe behind closed doors, where can they be safe? Often times we forget that famous individuals actually aren’t zoo animals whose every gesture is there to entertain us. They’re not living in The Truman Show. Their every action shouldn’t be projected for our viewing pleasures whenever we want. There is a line between public life and private life, even for celebrities, and with the leaked footage from this very private elevator scene, it was very clearly crossed.
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