Monday, April 11, 2011

Celebrity vs. Privacy

Greetings Friends,

I'm sure everyone has some degree of "Royal Wedding Fever" now that the blessed event is only 2 weeks away. I'm certainly planning on watching it. Hell, I haven't been going to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning for weeks now, so what's the point if the "wedding of the century" coverage will begin at 5 am in my part of the world?

I watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer way back in 1981. I was 14 years old and absolutely enthralled with Diana's story. I wasn't a particularly avid royal watcher, but who wouldn't want to be the shy young girl who gets swept off her feet by a real-life Prince Charming? Too bad she didn't have the storybook ending we all hope for; Charles turned out to be anything but a prince, and we all know what happened to Diana.

I've started and abandoned a few essays about the topic of the paparazzi and the right to privacy. There have been many American celebrities who have challenged some of these relentless photographers, but under the auspices of the First Amendment, there's not a lot you can do to stop them. In Diana's case, she played a sort of cat-and-mouse game with them, giving them what they wanted when she wanted, and running from them when she didn't. I can't imagine what it must have been like for her, or is like for anyone for that matter, to constantly have to deal with someone pointing a camera in your face wherever you go. Some celebs say they eventually get used to it. The high price of fame means you sacrifice your privacy in the bargain, but is it really worth it? In 1997, when Diana was killed, I thought the paparazzi would ease up a bit, but if anything, their aggressiveness has gotten exponentially worse. Now, with a camera on board every mobile phone, everyone has the potential to be a paparazzo. As I often wonder about concussed hockey players, when will the day come when one of these intrusive shutterbugs pays the ultimate price for trying to snap a picture? I'm convinced this is also an inevitability.

In the meantime, You've got the Kardashian family and countless other reality "stars" living their lives in front of cameras, not to mention reveling in their overexposure. When I see someone like Kate Gosselin getting snapped at the local Target in Assbackwards, PA, I think to myself, why would an anonymous person gladly put up with that? The fact that she's now raking in millions notwithstanding, I can't get past the act of prostituting your children for the cameras as a viable living. Millions of people live anonymous lives and manage to get through their days without worrying about a random photographer jumping out of the bushes as they grab their mail in their bathrobes. We've witnessed countless celebrity meltdowns at the hands of these photographers, who have been known to cause car accidents, nervous breakdowns and the occasional fisticuffs. If the encounter does happen to get physical, it's always the celeb that gets the shit end of the stick, because these photographers are technically just doing their "jobs". Yes, we know that a public figure gives up a great degree of privacy, but the line in the sand has become non-existent.

As Kate Middleton prepares to say "I do" to Prince William, 30 years after Charles and Diana did the deed, I can't help but wonder what her life will be like once she's officially "Princess Catherine". Will the life of her deceased mother-in-law provide some sort of guide for handling the paparazzi, or will Princess Catherine eventually be driven to distraction by their presence? I certainly hope her story has a happier ending than Diana's. Happily ever after is unrealistic, but happy enough despite living your life in front of the cameras is probably the most she'll be able to expect.


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