Abby Diaz
July 15, 2013 2:00 pm

If you think paparazzi perpetuate an unhealthy celebrity-worship culture that demands, and somehow inherently justifies, increasingly invasive “news” mongering, then to criticize specific paparazzi events is to take a risk. Acknowledging – even critically – the gossip sport ultimately brings the paparazzi the very rewards that spur them to action in the first place: buzz, press, coverage, discourse. It is like responding to a toddler trying to push your buttons; even if you react angrily, the toddler is satisfied because at least you have given him your attention.

But oh my goodness, sometimes you just have to take the risk that your criticism will be misinterpreted as a request for more. Sometimes, paparazzi will act abusively towards a child. Sometimes, you will be forced to wonder what happened to perspective, much less privacy.

Suri Cruise and her mother, Katie Holmes, were doing something as uninteresting as walking down a New York City street. Because they happen to be Suri Cruise and Katie Holmes, that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other business had some significant appeal to a waiting horde of fans and paparazzi. As the jostling and jockeying for position mounted, both mother and daughter became visibly annoyed, and could be heard on video asking for space and to be left alone. As they entered a waiting car, one man yelled “Bye, Suri, you little brat!” He followed that up by referring to the elementary-schooler as a “b*tch.”

Suri Cruise is seven years old. She had denied her bully a good photograph, or an autograph, or a clear view of her mother. She was frustrated that she left a store and was met by men with cameras. Despite her tender age, the triviality of what was on the line, and the easy empathy most people could summon for a child being beseiged by strangers, she was demeaned and belittled in agressive, offensive language.

It’s enough to make you want to cancel your Us Magazine subscription.

There is nothing to debate here. It is never appropriate to call a child a “b*tch.” Ever. I can’t even come up with a sarcastic scenario in which that would be even remotely understandable.

And sure, kids can be bratty sometimes. Trust me, that particular “b” word flashes through my head when my daughter is whining about not getting the right kind of cheese, or my son refuses to share anything he might have his hands on. I have never, though, used that word with my children, and I would never EVER use that word with someone else’s.

It says a lot about the speaker that he was so quick to degrade his vocabulary, in the face of such barely registrable provocation. It says we have so objectified celebrities that even their offspring aren’t allowed to be sympathetic creatures. It says we look at a privileged child and sometimes forget the child part. It says we are willing to place our prerogatives and priorities over someone else’s simple freedoms, like walking without interruption.

Suri has plenty to be challenged by as a seven-year-old: Tying her own shoes. Telling time. Reading chapter books. She should not have to be figuring out how best to tame the paparazzi beast. Nor should she have to ask her mother for an explanation of the word “b*tch.”

Yet there it is. A post spanning hundreds of words, reacting to a scene paparazzi produced and directed. Does that mean the paparazzi here was doing its job effectively? Or does it even matter?

If two wrongs don’t make a right, then two improper displays of paprazzie power do not create a correct circumstance. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the ones from this instance read “back off.” If you can’t put things in perspective, then maybe you need to be put in your place.

Featured image via usmagazine.com

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