I was watching The Ten Commandments the other night, and there was this that phrase Yul Brenner as pharoah kept saying. This phrase hovered at the edge of my conciousness long after the movie was over. This morning it finally crystalized as words extremely applicable to a thought that I had concerning the rights of famous people and the paparazzi. First consider if you can how and why their rights are automatically taken away the moment they become famous. Now this is a concept that is incredible to me. One minute they are an average person with the right to defend themself if say a paparazzi gets into their home without being invited, as happened in the case of Sean Penn and Madonna. Before Sean became famous he had the right to immediately knock the sh*t out of the man for his error in judgement and then take the man to court for breaking and entering. But the minute Sean became famous the most he can do without running into trouble himself is to ask the paparazzi to leave politely. Now here is where it gets surreal: because if the paparazzi does not immediately comply with the famous person’s wishes, but continues to take photos, forceing the celebrity to bodily escort them from the room, that celebrity can end up in trouble. How did we come to this sorry pass in the legal rights of taxpayng Americans? Ah now this is where Yul Brenner’s voice keeps echoing in my head. Ten little words that define law and the difference between one moment in a man’s life and the next. The words: ” So let it be written. So let it be done.” Because a piece of law was added to the freedom of the press which was essentially intrusive, invasive and did more harm than good. It’s a bad law and should never have been passed in the first place, But since it has been pased the best we can do is police it. And that is not being done. The law I’m referring to was when photographs were deemed essential to the telling of a news story and were included in the Bill of Rights under Freedom of the Press. One of my teachers said it was bad law and needed challenging, for when the written words were superceded by photographs which were subjective and open to interpretation, then the rights of all men would suffer. Mr. McMahan was right. And here we are with abuses by paparazzi and the tabloid press scattered like a kid’s colored straws from New York to Los Angeles Because what no one remembers or else has conveniently forgotten is that photographic evidence was supposed to be obtained through and by photographic journalists; not a bunch of sweaty men who wait for hours outside people’s homes for a money shot. Most paparazzi never took classes on communication, law and ethics as photographic journalists are required to do, so that they know their own rights, and the rights of the people they take photos of. Most paparazzi are sweaty men who wait for hours hanging around people’s homes waiting for them to venture out so they can get that money shot. Most paparazzi can safely be classed as nothing more than stalkers, not with intent to do bodily harm but rather to get the afore mentioned money shot. These men are not professional newsmen with network or newspapaer affiliations. They are a rude. crude bunch purposely chosen for their ruthlessness and sent to cut up a celebrity’s peace of mind, ruin his or her evening and in general make a nuisance of himself. If the celebrity hits out so much the better as then the paparazzi can then sue for damages further enhancing his reputation and filling his pockets. This is quite literally how the rich and famous’ rights were taken away. And then came the proliferation of tabloids and online magazines and a bidding war to get the best story with the most explicit photos. Do you see where we’re heading here people? There are a lot of people firmly convinced that the photographic evidence in the Kristen Stewart scandal was photoshopped into existence. True or not this time, this enduring charade pursued by the tabloids is making them rich and any paparazzi lucky enough to get a photo of Rob and Kristen is well paid. So eventually some star is going to suffer the same fate as Kristen has, deserved or not. Because the temptation to repeat such a lucrative endeavor would be too irresible. What is needed is new law. Or that the existing law be addened to in such a way that it specifys that only accredited photographic journalists be employed in any news gathering story concerning famous people. Law that demands that the press and tabloids police themselves or else the courts of the land police them, and that no more paparazzi be employed. Former paparazzi may be employed once the required classes are taken and passed. Every American, who either loves the law or believes the famous have as much right to privacy as anyone else, should boycott any publication or magazine, both news stand and online tabloid who use paparazzi photos. Tabloids should not be allowed to run and rerun ficticious stories without plainly labeling them as fictition. Failure to follow this rule should be punishable by shutting down of the presses until full public apology has been delivered and then a retraction printed. These are all reasonable solutions. The American people have the power to make it happen. One day those wondrous words will be said, SO LET IT BE WRITTEN. SO LET IT BE DONE.
Velma Holmes 3