Celebrities Are People

By Joshua Morrison
Blog Content Contributor

Originally published on April 19, 2016.

Teen singer and actress Miley Cyrus is confronted by flashing paparazzi photographers while leaving Katsuya restaurant in Hollywood, CA.
Miley Cyrus is confronted by flashing paparazzi photographers while leaving Katsuya restaurant in Hollywood, CA. Photo by Kevin McShane via Flickr.

It’s easy to forget that celebrities are people, isn’t it? When we go to the grocery store, we see their faces splattered all over magazines with headlines that tell us all kinds of truths and lies about their lives. We get intimate peeks into their lives that are only sometimes authorized. They are the subject of conversation across so many of our relationships. In short, they become fodder.

Celebrities, however, are flesh and blood. Whatever access we have to their lives from TMZ doesn’t diminish their basic humanity. As someone who loves the stars, it can be easy for me to forget this truth. In those moments, I remind myself of the wise words of Sienna Miller during the Levison Inquiry. She recounts nights where she would be chased down dark alleys by gangs of men. Her experiences have the ring of terror and don’t sound like anything that anybody reasonable would condone or think should be legal. But it was. Why? These gangs of men had cameras and she is famous. Miller’s insights are a sobering reminder that every paparazzi photograph we look at could well have been procured by inducing trauma in a human being.

What boggles my mind about this scenario is that some people remain unmoved by accounts like the one Miller gives. When this topic comes up, it is, at least in my experienced, routine that somebody vocally and passionately takes the position that anyone with a high-profile career is fair game to be stalked. Even more shocking is that the people who take this position often fail to accept that a celebrity’s child or non-famous acquaintances deserve a modicum of respect from the press. I can only assume, and hope, that this position comes from a place of ignorance, a lack of exposure to what paparazzi journalism actually looks like.

Every person who participates in our culture would be wise to consider the practices of the paparazzi and ask themselves some questions. If you think that public figures automatically surrender their right to a private life, do some research. Scour the internet. Read stories about members of the paparazzi causing traffic accidents. Watch videos of Britney Spears being hounded by dozens of cameras in a gas station. Read stories about the paparazzi stalking pre-schools because the children of famous people attend them. Watch documentaries that reveal practices like camping outside a celebrity’s residence until they leave in order to snap a photograph. Ask yourself if you are comfortable with these practices. If the answer is yes, I suppose I just don’t know what to tell you.

Holly Henrichsen

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