Some celebrities cherish and guard their privacy with a single-minded determination bordering on the obsessive with others believe that they gave up their rights to privacy once they became famous and accept this fact with resignation.Whatever the celeb’s feelings on the subject of fame, rest assured, the paparazzi will be camped outside their homes, or they’ll be following them as they shop or vacation and sometimes, they’ll even get into shouting matches or the odd slugfest with them.To some celebrities, the “papps”, as they are called, are the lowest of the low of bottom feeders while to others, they are there to be manipulated for greater visibility.However, for the average paparazzo who hangs out of a helicopter hoping to get the money-shot of George Clooney’s wedding, it’s all in a day’s work – nothing personal against the celebs.In the third of this four-part series, we examine the hated paparazzi and the vital role they play in feeding the public’s insatiable demand for Hollywood celebrity news.
The online reference source, Wikepedia.org, defines the paparazzi as independent photographers who take pictures of athletes, entertainers, royalty, politicians and other celebrities as they go about their daily lives.Paparazzi tend to be independent contractors, unaffiliated with mainstream media organizations.Some media experts have described their behavior as synonymous with stalking but the paparazzi’s argument is that their relationship with celebrities is symbiotic; the celebs need the paparazzi as much as the paparazzi need them.There is certainly truth in that logic, to be sure.
While today’s gossip poster child, Perez Hilton, was still eating strained veggies and his multi-gazillion-dollar-brainchild, TMZ, was yet to be conceptualized, the pages of the National Enquirer were what you surreptitiously devoured at your local supermarket checkout if you wanted all the latest dirt on your favorite celebs, especially if it was a double issue featuring celebs caught without their makeup or the uncensored – and sometimes cringe-worthy – photos of celebs hitting the beach in cellulite-laden, beer belly free-for-alls while busting out of string bikinis and animal-print Speedos.Add now to the National Enquirer a slew of entertainment magazines like People, Us Weekly, InTouch, Hello and Okay who have pages that need to be filled with celeb photos, candid and otherwise, in order to meet public demand and you’ve got not only a public who needs their daily fix of celebrity news and photos but a horde of paparazzi who are more than willing to meet that demand.Oh, and let’s not forget that with the advent of the World Wide Web, the demand for photos of celebs and royalty, not to mention sports stars behaving badly and high-profile politicians with questionable personal morals has grown ten-fold.
Arguably one of the most famous paparazzo of all time is Ron Galella.Dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek and “the Godfather of the U.S. paparazzi culture” by Time magazine and Vanity Fair, he is regarded by Harper’s Bazaar as the most controversial paparazzo of all time, gaining notoriety with his feuds with some celebrities like former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis a.k.a. Jackie O., and movie godfather, Marlon Brando.Jackie O. sued Galella twice while Marlon Brando broke his jaw.However, these weren’t Galella’s only run in with the celebrities he was documenting.He was once beaten by actor Richard Burton’s security guards, losing one tooth.Other famous targets were Elvis Presley, whose bodyguards slashed Galella’s car tires, Brigitte Bardot, who had her security staff hose him down, and Sean Penn, who spat at him and allegedly punched him while being photographed with his then-wife, Madonna.
“The paparazzi are just the easiest ones to demonize because people think of us all as scrummy human beings.You never hear of the paparazzi doing good; you only hear when we’ve done something bad,” stated Giles Harrison, a 20-year paparazzi veteran and founder of London Entertainment Group, a large photo agency in Los Angeles that specializes in celebrity photography and special events like the red carpet at awards ceremonies.Of course, it’s hard to think otherwise after August 31, 1997, the day that Princess Diana, along with her companion, Dodi Fayed, and her driver, Henri Paul, were fatally injured in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris, France while being chased by paparazzi.
It would seem that if you’re a celebrity, you’re going to be victimized by the paparazzi.Not so, according to Harrison.Sometimes, there’s a lot more to a situation than meets the eye.“I could tell you stories about publicists being in bed with photographers, celebrities being in bed with photographers – literally and figuratively – to the point where the celebrities share in the proceeds of the paparazzi photos that get taken of them.There’s a lot of that that goes on.”Regardless which side of the moral compass one straddles, it’s clear that while there’s demand for celebrity photos, the paparazzi will be only too glad to fight off blood-thirsty Rottweilers and throw themselves from a plane if it means getting the prized “money-shot” that’ll pay off the mortgage – and be seen by millions the world over.Certainly worth a body cast, wouldn’t you say?