The death of a paparazzo while attempting to take pictures of Justin Bieber’s Ferrari late last year has once again raised questions about whether the paparazzi overstep boundaries when trying to get the perfect shot.
Many of us relish the thousands of celebrity images we’re able to access through newspapers, magazines and the internet, and the often-demonised paparazzi are responsible for snapping them. Whether we approve of them or not, we have to admit that their quest to capture even the most intimate moments is fed largely by the public’s eager consumption of these images.
In their frenzy to get these sought-after pictures, many paparazzi put themselves in dangerous situations, often coming to blows with their unwilling subjects or putting themselves (as well as their targets) in danger.
The most infamous incident of paparazzi snapping gone horribly wrong was the death of Princess Diana 16 years ago, and although the paparazzi was held responsible, not much has changed since. In 2009, country singer LeAnne Rimes drove into another vehicle while trying to get away from the paparazzi and two years later, January Jones crashed into two parked cars in a similar situation.
Some celebrities’ reaction to being constantly hounded is to fight rather than flee. During her very public breakdown in 2007, Britney Spears attacked the camera-wielding stalkers with an umbrella. In 2008, actor Gerard Butler was charged with battery after he repeatedly punched a paparazzo who had been pursuing his car and verbally harassing him.
But there is another side to the story. Many celebrities want to be seen, whether it is to boost their publicity or to promote new projects and ventures. We may feel sorry for those dogged by cameras, but the truth is that it isn’t uncommon for stars to stage paparazzi shoots, tipping them off about their movements. Others go as far as to take paparazzi on holiday with them, sharing in the profits from photographs.
In their industry, a picture can literally be worth millions, and although we may criticize the paparazzi, we are their audience. If the public lost interest in the rich and famous, there would be very little reason for them to exist. So where does the blame really lie?
Chisanga Mukuka, CT intern