The Paparazzi Plague

Hazel McCallion Senior Public School
Mississauga, Ontario

By Christina Khoury (Grade 8)

No celebrities can avoid them. Emerging from cars, entering glamorous balls and parties, or just trying to get away on a vacation, the glamour figures of the '90s are hounded by men and women, along with their film, lenses and shamelessness. Some stars have punched them, and many others plainly mouth off to them when asking politely failed. These '90s superstars have entered a whole new world. A world of no private life, a world where everything they do is documented and photographed. They have been hit with "The Paparazzi Plague".

Yes, many of us would line up for hours, waiting for our favourite superstar to sign an autograph. Many would also take a quick picture if they had a chance. But why do the paparazzi go to such extremes as following, or even making unwanted physical contact, with these stars? The answer is plain and simple.

"They do it for money, money, money. It's the great incentive to lose all their principles," says Mike Lawn, formerly a royal photographer for the now defunct British newspaper Today.

In August's Paris tragedy that claimed Diana, Princess of Wales, Steve Coz, editor of the National Inquirer, claimed that sources were hoping to bring in $1 million (U.S.) in worldwide sales for pictures of the helpless Diana trapped in the smashed car. But Coz said, that the Inquirer had, "refused to buy them and urged the world press to boycott the ghoulish sale."

Blurry shots of Diana and Dodi Al Fayed kissing on his yacht in the Mediterranean, reportedly earned photographer Mario Brenna $7 million, worldwide. It is not unusual for any photographer to be paid $20,000, $40,000 or even more for a single photograph. Will the paparazzi never learn that greed will lead to even more tragedies like Diana's?

"You don't know what it's like to be chased by them," says Tom Cruise. "It is harassment under the guise of, you know, 'We are the press, we are entitled! When people are having a private moment, they should be allowed to have a private moment."

Despite the hundreds of thousands of similar remarks that we hear, in most countries, it is open season on celebrities. France is the notable exception, where privacy laws are famously strict. "In theory you can't photograph someone walking down the street," says Lawn. "You need written permission. In fact, if I shot a street scene, I'd technically have to get permission from every person that appeared in my picture."

Yet, there continues to be violations of the law on behalf of the paparazzi.

"You've got to remember that these paparazzi ride the edge of the law and often go over," says Les Wilson, editor of Britain's Sunday Express.

But Wilson also maintains that Diana herself may have contributed to the problem.

"When her car raced away from the Ritz Hotel after her dinner with Al Fayed, the photographers had no choice but to give chase," he concluded.

This view is also shared by the Rome photographer who started it all.

"Tazio Secchiaroli was the inspiration for a celebrity-stalking lensman character in Fredrico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita whom the late director named "Paparazzo", writes columnist Julie Frederiquez, of The Toronto Star.

No major celebrity can avoid them. Though the tragic accident with Diana may have come as a shock to many, the paparazzi see it as another fence to hop over. In other words, they will let nothing stop them from continuing to earn the money they reap in. Whether it be pictures of life, death, rain, shine, good or evil, we will continue to see the pictures splashed over magazine covers and as headers on major newspapers. Stars will continue to complain, but with the paparazzi never far behind will we see more situations like the Paris tragedy? Will the public continue to support these so-called photographers and their pseudo-newspapers, allowing things to continue to spiral out of control?

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