(Please excuse TheManager these digressions, but sometimes things outside of Leadership Development just need to be said, or in this case, written.)
The Paparazzi Must Die!
John Mayer wants paparazzi photographers to be regulated.
Dennis Zine is seeking to create legal restrictions on the paparazzi.
Various A-listers from George Clooney to Tom Cruise have spoken out vehemently about the harassment they’ve received from overeager photographers.
Most everyone blames the death of Princess Diana on the paparazzi.
It’s clear to TheManager, the paparazzi must die!
Oh, you’ve never heard of John Mayer? Well, he’s a semi-successful musician who happens to be Jennifer Aniston’s current beau. If it gets serious, you’ll probably know the couple as JenJohn, Johnniston or Johnnifer. As Aniston’s romances go, chances are Mayer will return to his normal life as a singer most people have never heard of in a couple of months.
What about this Dennis Zine character? Zine is a Los Angeles city councilman who’s never had his fifteen minutes and who obviously believes that all of the other issues facing his constituents are solved. He’s tackling these no-good photographers head-on, and he is a man on a mission.
Well, if Mayer and Zine aren’t big enough names to convince you that “Hollywood, we have a problem,” perhaps we should listen to the A-list crowd whose lives have been ruined by the menacing hoard. Cruise and Clooney have an opinion, and you better listen to them. Though don’t forget about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, who have all been recipients of unwanted attention from the scum we call paparazzi.
The Paparazzi Are Scumbags!
Really, scumbags? Are they? Okay, maybe 99.9% of them are, but they also happen to be protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. (In case you need a civics lesson, here’s a helpful link to bring you up to speed on the First Amendment.)
There’s a reason this amendment was first. Our Founding Fathers recognized that political leaders in their homelands arbitrarily restricted what they believed were the God given rights they granted to us in the First Amendment. They wanted to ensure that no matter how unpopular a religion, point of view or news article was to anyone else, that the right to express this would never be restricted.
The US Constitution? Are you kidding me? We’re talking about celebrities here. The Constitution was never intended to impede the pleasure of our precious celebrities. They are not only above the law, they are the arbiters of what’s fair and equitable. They are, if you ask them, the new judiciary – it’s their job to interpret the United States Constitution.
Regardless of whether you believe the paparazzi are protected by the freedom of the press verbiage in the First Amendment is really irrelevant, they are. But even if they weren’t, we really need to consider the real reasons why they exist and why they have become such a menace to society before we condemn them to death.
Hey Superstar, You Brought This All On Yourself
Guess what Hollywood A-lister? You are the cause of the paparazzi mess. You are the reason they exist and you are the only one who can control them. You don’t need some special legislation, because we already have laws on the books that have been used to prosecute those photographers who cross the line. If you don’t like being famous, why are you?
Did John Mayer expect that dating Jennifer Aniston would be the same as dating someone named Jennifer Smith or Jones?
Did George Clooney, who came from a Hollywood family, accidentally become famous?
Does Tom Cruise, who seems to think it’s okay to jump around like a lunatic on Oprah’s couch, really believe that the people who pay his salary (the movie-going public) don’t want to know about his latest nutty act?
Eating at Koi (the best sushi restaurant in the world), partying at The Palms (the fifty-seventh best casino in the world) or driving drunk (the dumbest thing anyone can do since about 1975) are all going to whet the appetite of the public and garner the attention of the paparazzi.
People Magazine, Us Weekly, and the rest of the tabloid trash have always paid dearly for the right photos of famous people. Where there is money, there will be a market. And where is there is a tight supply of something that is desired, the money will be higher. This is a basic economics lesson that even a fourth grader would understand.
Today, we have websites and television shows like TMZ, Entertainment Tonight and others who have turned what the paparazzi provide into really big money. This is America, and when we see a potential market, we create businesses to compete in this market. The market for celebrity gossip has never been bigger.
Earlier I wrote that the paparazzi attention brought upon Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears was “unwanted.” Let’s be serious here. They not only want the attention, they need it. They are like addicts in search of a fix. Without the paparazzi, Hilton would just be a another spoiled rich girl we never heard of, Lohan would be a B-lister still making such great flicks as The Parent Trap, and Britney would… well, we probably wouldn’t know that she rarely wears underwear.
Want To Stop The Paparazzi? Here’s How
Behind every paparazzi “attack,” there exist circumstances that are completely controllable by the “victim.” It really is your own fault, Mr./Ms. Celebrity, that your “safety” is in danger from the vicious paparazzi.
Police Chief William Bratton of Los Angeles is a plain-talking man that probably seems very foreign to the glamour and glitz of the citizens he protects and serves.
Bratton doesn’t think there is a paparazzi problem now that Britney is behaving, Lohan has moved underground and Hilton is out of town. Interesting viewpoint, but it absolutely goes to the first of three solutions to the paparazzi problem: celebrities are sometimes like college kids on spring break – they sometimes act like complete idiots.
First, Stop Being An Idiot
The first step to eliminating the need for the paparazzi is for celebrities to start acting like adults. Wear underwear, don’t drink and drive, limit your public displays of affection (especially with the same sex), don’t grope underage girls and boys, and don’t make bad choices that every stay-at-home mom can’t wait to read about in People.
Has the public ever cared about anything Britney, Lindsay or Paris did that wasn’t idiotic or salacious?
If Lindsay Lohan spent her evenings teaching ESL classes at the Malibu Community College, she would fall off the pages of Entertainment Weekly so fast we’d think she was still behind the wheel of Herbie. If Paris chose to spend her money helping the poor in Zimbabwe, instead of partying at Rain, we’d never even know her name. And if Britney didn’t act like Britney, she’d be a semi-famous singer like John Mayer.
If there’s nothing for TMZ to report, guess what? TMZ wouldn’t pay thousands of dollars to the paparazzi chasing all you idiotic celebrities.
Second, Stop Trying To Be So Famous
Fame is a funny drug. It seems when you get a little, you need a lot. We’ve all heard the stories of the aging Hollywood actresses who would have their people tip the media on their comings and goings to guarantee they would be photographed. Sad really, but these activities helped the former stars feel like they still mattered.
It’s too bad that so many in Hollywood get their self-worth from seeing themselves on a magazine cover, but they do. When Clooney and Cruise were individually named the Sexiest Man Alive I don’t remember hearing them complain. They understood that this title would translate into larger box offices and higher paychecks.
Hollywood consultants collect millions of dollars and spend thousands of hours making sure their celebrity clients are seen. Their calculated efforts to keep their clients on the tip of our collective tongue is a skill set that Hollywood cherishes.
This begs the question: When celebrities are the ones who started the gas fire, why do they complain the loudest when it becomes uncontrollable?
Finally, Control The Supply To Limit The Demand
Earlier I wrote that this was a basic lesson in economics – it really is. There is a finite supply of photographs of John Mayer and Jennifer Aniston together, and a seemingly infinite demand.
It’s silly how simply this works, but if Johnniston (remember, TheManager called them that first) would simply hire their own photographers, and then sell their own candid photos to the press, the dollars paid for a surprise candid shot of the two would dry up. Without the motivation of big dollars, the paparazzi would largely leave them alone.
But wait, you say, they want their privacy, and selling photographs of themselves would somehow violate this. If they truly desire privacy, they could do as Johnny Depp (arguably the biggest male star in the world) has done – they could move somewhere where the paparazzi would find it hard to make a living. Los Angeles and New York are not on that list.
Selling photos of yourself and others in your life is not a new idea. Jennifer Lopez and Angelina Jolie figured this out. Both of these superstars gave birth to twins that we, the public, must view or we will simply go blind.
Lopez hired a photographer and sold photos of her babies for a reported $5-$6 million. Jolie just sold photos of her new twins for $14 million. Guess what, the market price for pictures of these babies went way down the minute authentic, quality shots were made available to the tabloids.
Matthew McConaughey recently sold photos of his son for $3 million. Why shouldn’t he? Someone is going to make a fortune on these photos – it might as well be the parents.
Interestingly, Mark Wahlberg and other celebs have refused to sell photos of their babies, and I respect that. However, I must warn the former Funky Bunch front man that he is opening the door to photographers to do anything they can to be the first to obtain pictures of his tot.
Understanding that you are interesting to the public, and then flooding the market with candid photographs of yourself might make a celebrity a bit overexposed, but the privacy and measure of safety you receive far outweighs the hassles of the paparazzi. If People and Us Weekly had enough photos of you, they wouldn’t pay others to acquire them.
Would Princess Diana be alive today if her relationship with Dodi Fayed was common public knowledge? Could Princess Diana’s people have removed the demand for pictures of the two if they had flooded the market with thousands of candid shots? Certainly, people would always want to take her picture, but no one would jump on a motorcycle and risk their own life for a picture worth just a few dollars.
This is not a privacy issue, as celebrities throw their right to privacy out the window when they choose to become famous (or choose to marry someone famous). In case you were wondering, the right to privacy is not in the Constitution.
The Bottom Line
With apologies to Phil Graham, Hollywood has become a city of whiners.
Grow up, control your life or quit the business. But at the very least, quit crying foul every time someone wants to take your picture. Fame is a choice, and superstardom comes with a price.
All jobs come equipped with their own set of pros and cons. My guess is that every garbage man in America would trade his job’s cons with George Clooney’s any day of the week.
Hey George, in the immortal words of Hyman Roth, “… this is the business we’ve chosen…”
Here are a few interesting news links on the Jolie pic sale and the LA City Council’s efforts to curb the dreaded paparazzi I thought you might enjoy: