Celebs Can’t Expect Privacy – But What About Their Kids?

Halle Berry Privacy
SMXRF/Star Max/FilmMagic

Already prone to oversharing via Facebook and social media, we’re also promoting rudeness and gawking

Kanye West recently made headlines again by teeing off on a member of the paparazzi. The knee-jerk reaction is understandable: Another privileged, pampered celebrity. Boo-hoo. If you can’t handle fame or being filmed, you’re probably well advised not to hook up with a Kardashian.

And yet…

While nobody should endorse violence, seeing paparazzi in action makes it unsurprising that people are tempted to take a poke at them. And while it’s easy to hide behind a shield of press freedom, given the legitimate concerns about security and privacy, the issue is genuinely more nuanced than that.

Los Angeles residents in certain communities surely have a different perspective than the public at large. As a regular patron of the Studio City Farmers Market, I’ve been regularly treated to evidence of how intrusive such picture-takers can be, shoving cameras into the faces of celebs while they spend a lazy Sunday with their kids, paying for overpriced pony rides and produce.

Word has clearly gotten around that this is a good place to spot actors in unguarded moments. And while some of the paparazzi endeavor to be respectful, both to the stars and those milling around, others go bolting through the throngs, brandishing telephoto lenses with an intensity that suggests Jesus, or at least a few Apostles, have made an unscheduled appearance.

Obviously, there’s a first-amendment lifeline here, which is immediately where outlets like TMZ retreat when confronted about such tactics. “Kanye West just lashed out at a TMZ cameraguy,” the site posted after a recent flare-up with the rapper, “simply ’cause he’s an egomaniac who thinks he’s bigger than the Constitution.”

As much as everyone likes the Constitution, though, it’s a little harder to endorse blanket protection of those first-amendment rights when the “journalist” keeps repeating “Kanye, I love you, man,” and wants to blow the lid off Kim’s morning sickness.

There’s also the matter of privacy, and whether famous people should be allowed any zone in which they’re not viewed as lab rats, where the presumption is that they belong to those of us living vicariously through their success.

Legislative attempts to curb paparazzi haven’t done much to rein in their behavior, and new technology has added avenues and immediacy to posting video and capitalizing on the pop-culture hunger for celebrity-driven content. Many feel some photogs provoke encounters, knowing that a “So-and-so runs amok!” headline is a surefire way to generate traffic and sales.

SEE ALSO: California Lawmakers Consider Limits on Paparazzi Who Hound Celebrities’ Children

A recent effort has hinged on providing additional safeguards for celebs when accompanied by their children, with Halle Berry recently testifying before California’s legislature about the pending provision.

“I understand that there is a certain amount of my own privacy that I have to give up,” the actress told the Assembly’s public safety committee, but cited a distinction regarding children “and their fear of leaving their house and feeling they cannot move in the world in a safe way.”

There’s logic and emotional resonance in that argument — namely, while stars have willingly embraced the spotlight and (at least to some extent) the associated headaches, their young kids didn’t sign up for the harassment.

Perhaps the more troubling issue, which can’t simply be legislated away, is what this says about our society. Already prone to oversharing via Facebook and social media, we’re promoting rudeness and gawking, including via those irritating open-air vans that seem to crisscross every posh section of Los Angeles, pointing out celebrity homes (or more often, the hedges in front of them).

Consider the case of Aaron Paul, who recently surprised a tour bus by venturing outside to say hello. Although that’s certainly a nice gesture, nowhere does the story bother to ask why we’ve become so cavalier about the notion that an actor on “Breaking Bad” has to cheerfully accept having random strangers led directly to his doorstep.

Ultimately, given the competing notions of privacy and celebrity, not to mention commerce, there’s no completely neat or tidy solution. Yet if the assumption is that nobody gets inconvenienced except the star being filmed, tell that to their kids — or for that matter, to the folks just trying to mind their own business at the farmers market.

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  1. All right you are right, YouTube is best video distribution website, since YouTube is a lightly no much streaming time rather than other sites.

  2. Agree that as a person/persona in the public eye, you DO give up a certain amount of privacy and if you don’t want that violated, you have two choices; 1) get out of the public eye or 2) act like a respectful human being (not perfect just don’t get drunk and get arrested if you don’t want it splashed over the tabs…seriously). Again, the children of these fame whores (yes, some of them are) are the victims here and to the other poster who said they should sue their parents I say, that’s ridiculous. How about they act like normal parents, as much as they can, and keep their kids safe from the public eye. You never see Jodie Foster’s child, or Ron Howard’s (until they grew up), for the most part, these people are just parents, it’s the freaks like Kanye West and the Kardashian girls that harm their children. Maybe child protective services should get involved.

  3. DougW says:

    I feel badly for celebrities having to deal with paparazzi. I’m surprised they and their unions haven’t done more to try to change the situation. Legally I think they should attack the public figure law that presently allows the paps to sell photos of them without their permission, something photographers can’t do with anyone who isn’t famous. That’s unequal protection under the law and seems like it could be challenged.
    I also wish the city/state would do more to address the situation. This isn’t only about being photographed, it’s about being harassed, chased and stalked. It seems actors/performers who bring so much joy to the world, who largely reside in LA and are generally very kind to fans they encounter, shouldn’t have to put up with aggressive, intrusive swarms of paparazzi, obliterating their peace and privacy.

  4. G. Jardoness says:

    “No, no, please don’t throw me in the briar-patch!”

    Even the most high-profile and sought-after celebrities, who choose to, are able to draw the line, have it respected, and maintain their privacy… But when their exploits are part of their persona, publicity, or rehabilitation, they redefine the scope of their notoriety and infamy…

    And from the time their on-set encounters or lurid affairs are first disclosed and video-taped and marketed, and the baby-bumps are tweeted and twit-picted and broadcast to anyone and everyone who would listen, those children are exploited before they’re even named and out of the womb.

    The fault and the responsibility is theirs. And the current laws are sufficient and need only to be enforced. As for the children, they can and should simply sue their parents, for the ever-popular ‘pain & suffering & emotional distress’, beginning with the proceeds from the six-figure fee their parents undoubtedly got for their first baby-pix.

  5. Mjkbk says:

    Why does the news media always blame ‘the public’s insatiable hunger’ for their own bad behavior? I’ve been interested in showbiz-related news and info for over 50 years–but I’ve NEVER had an unsatisfied appetite for paparazzi-style ambush photography of celebs. Yes, I do look at it when it’s shoved in my face, which happens to any of us who follow performing arts news.

    But I’ve never DEMANDED it in the first place. And I refuse to believe I’m completely in the minority here. It’s certainly not ME, and others like me, who are fueling the media’s self- perpetuating obsession with celebrity.

    Own up and place the blame where it mostly belongs. Stop pushing the REST of us into the Media Excess Excuse Engine every single time.

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