Paparazzi

I’ve been thinking lately about celebrity status.  What would that be like?  You always hear celebrities say in interviews that it doesn’t ever become just a “normal” part of life, that you can’t ever get used to being famous, being recognized constantly by complete strangers.  In a shallow way, I’ve always brushed comments like that aside.  Yeah right, you chose to be an actor/singer/politician, whatever.  You knew that public recognition was part of the life.  This is what you’ve wanted all along.  This status is just proof that you’re successful.

But…maybe not.  These “celebrities”…they’re people, first.  I read an article today that quoted Mary Kate Olsen as saying that she didn’t approve of paparazzi.  She doesn’t want her picture taken, unless it’s at a red carpet event or a photo shoot or something.  So she hides her face when she sees paparazzi around her, and people comment that she looks depressed or sick or whatever, when really she’s just trying to avoid something that she doesn’t want. 

I don’t think I truly have a position on the topic, because I have never experienced paparazzi.  Certainly nobody is after me, trying to get a picture, of course!  But also, I’ve never been in an area of the country like Los Angeles, where paparazzi photographers chase whoever they can find, all day long.  There’s the issue of free speech, of course.  If somebody wanted to take my picture outside the grocery store, for some reason, there’s no law that says they can’t.  If somebody wanted to follow my every move and write about it in some magazine, it would make me very uncomfortable, but I don’t think I would have a case against them. 

Then of course, there’s the fact that the lives of celebrities are interesting to us regular people.  We all want to know what it’s like to buy something that costs more than $1000 without thinking about it, to have a stranger ask for our autograph, or to have an incredible designer create a dress just for us to wear one night.  It’s a lifestyle that seems so foreign to us, we (as a group) just absorb every bit of information that comes our way, true or not.  National Enquirer says Brad and Angelina are breaking up, Us Weekly discusses how Katie is trapped in Tom’s manipulation, Star reports that Nicole is starving herself down to 85 pounds while pregnant.  (I’m totally making those up, by the way, they’re just versions of headlines that have circulated.  I have no idea what those three publications are really talking about today.)  So even if we think it’s ridiculous, we want to read it.  Even if we know those pictures are probably being taken out of context, and that “insider” might just be someone looking to make a buck, we pay for the magazines.  And on one hand, that is their right, to sell us that “information.”  They never claimed to be the most serious, accurate periodical on the newsstand.  They never even claim to have spoken to the actual celebrity.  If they are willing to write the magazine, and we are willing to pay for it, that’s fair.

On the other hand, these people are people.  Ms. Olsen is not public property.  Neither are Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, etc.  Zac Efron, oh my gosh!  If you hang out with kids as much as I do, you know that this boy is the thing right now among girls from 4 to 16.  (In case you don’t know, he plays the main character in the High School Musical movies from the Disney channel.)  The poor guy’s face is in my classroom in about 10 different places every day, from t-shirts to backpacks to folders.  And these are 4-year-olds!  Imagine what a 13-year-old girl’s bedroom must look like! 

However…Mr. Efron gave those images with permission, as part of his work.  He’s paid for all of the exposure that his face gets in my classroom.  It’s not something I would enjoy if I were him, but it’s part of the job he signed up for.  Photographers following him when he’s pumping gas, or shopping with his friends, or as he runs errands on his day off, that doesn’t seem so fair, if you ask me. 

Here’s what makes me think that, even though it’s TOTALLY not the same thing!  I would never, ever, want to live in the neighborhood where I teach.  It wouldn’t matter where I taught, I wouldn’t want to live in a place where my next door neighbors could be my students.  When I’m at work, I will be a teacher to every kid in the building.  That’s the job I signed up for.  I will dress appropriately.  I will speak appropriately.  I will treat them each with respect and warmth.  I will do my best to set a good example for them, in everything that I do while I’m in that building.  I’m geared up for it, I expect it, I can put on a facade for eight hours if I’m not feeling particularly role model-ish.  But when I go home, I want to be free of it!  I don’t want to go to school in the morning and hear the kids talking about where I’d been and what I’d been doing the previous evening.  Harmless as it may be, I don’t want the kids to see me walking my dog in my pajamas at 6:00 a.m., or carrying in groceries, or whatever.  I don’t want to feel the pressure to be a perfect speciman of humanity 24 hours a day!

People see something, they feel the need to judge it.  The parents see me on my deck with a glass of wine, I’m some alcoholic that has no business teaching their child.  Or the parents (possibly different parents) see me going to church, I’m some conservative snob who will be teaching their child the wrong thing.  The pictures show Tom and Katie in a car together, both with less than thrilled looks on their faces, therefore it must be Tom is controlling and Katie is trapped.  It couldn’t possibly be that it’s late at night and they’re finally on their way home after a long and tiring event, and looking forward to another sleep-interrupted night with a new baby.  It couldn’t be that, God forbid, they are having an argument that will be resolved by the time they reach their own garage!  Because if I argue with my husband, it’s just another argument, but if Katie does it, it’s tragedy because she’s famous and supposed to be above all that. 

It’s really, really not the same thing!  Being a teacher versus being a celebrity.  I realize it’s a bad comparison.  It’s the only one I’ve got!

My point is, these people are not public property!  Their work is.  Put High School Musical in your DVD player and watch Zac Efron all day on a continuous loop.  Feel free.  That DVD is your property, Mr. Efron’s performance is for you to enjoy however you want to.  Go to Youtube and find every interview he’s ever done.  Fill my classroom with his face, for all I care.  But leave the person alone!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sarah
    Sep 06, 2007 @ 22:06:18

    For someone who doesn’t have a position on the topic, you really took one! 🙂

    Reply

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