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May 31, 2006 12:17 AM   Subscribe

Brad, Angelina, and the rise of 'celebrity colonialism' [via A&L Daily]
posted by bukharin (85 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Agh, I have to read? Can't it just be some funny pictures of cats or a clip from Brainiac?
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:27 AM on May 31, 2006



Sorry.
posted by bukharin at 12:30 AM on May 31, 2006


The government is said to have granted this extraordinary veto to Brad and Angelina after the couple told ministers that they would be ‘forced to quit the country unless allegedly intrusive journalists and paparazzi were brought to heel’ (2). Namibian ministers hope that a trip by two Hollywood bigwigs to their shores will do wonders for their tourism industry, and thus have done everything they can to keep the couple happy (3).

As bad as that sounds, I can't say I feel too bad; the paparazzi are really sort of disgusting creeps. And I wouldn't really call them "journalists".

The Namibian ministers are probably right about tourism.
posted by delmoi at 12:31 AM on May 31, 2006


The guy who wrote that story is trying to make it sound like Brangelina are the freaks... I am of the opinion that the folks who consume the magazines that send photographers to Namibia to take pictures of newborns are more worrisome. To me, it seems safe to say that the line between fascination and invasion of privacy has been crossed.

Interesting trend, but the article is sub-par. Like a chump, I'm too lazy to find anything better.
posted by pkingdesign at 12:31 AM on May 31, 2006


Stalker laws should apply to paparazzi.
Likewise, anyone who assaults a paparazzi stalker should be cleared of any possible charges.
posted by nightchrome at 12:37 AM on May 31, 2006


Where is the editorial? Has anyone even noticed how ridiculous Ridley Scott is? All dry ice and color filters? Sooner that old shit dies the better blade runner gets. So, anyway, Namibia made a commercial decision in the hopes of gaining a boost to tourism? Anyone give a shit? I thought that bone faced fuck was already married, not Scott.
posted by econous at 12:41 AM on May 31, 2006


nightchrome yeap, real shame if the beautiful people lose IP rights. Man every time I walk past a news stand I feel like giving some peripheral cash to them.
posted by econous at 12:45 AM on May 31, 2006


some ex-US soldiers have set up something called Green Knight Ltd, a company 'aimed at mobilising environmentally-minded former soldiers to fight the threat to African wildlife'.

Not that it matters much, but I can't find any trace of this enterprise online.
posted by magullo at 12:48 AM on May 31, 2006


econous, it has nothing to do with rights over their image, and everything to do with the fact that paparazzi are stalkers.
If you see a celeb somewhere and you just happen to have a camera on you and you snap their pic, that's just some fan taking a pic of a celeb. Who cares?
We're talking about people who follow these celebs around, hide in the bushes, hang from trees with telescopic lenses, etc. just to get shots of them...usually in their own homes (or wherever they are staying).
posted by nightchrome at 12:53 AM on May 31, 2006


I wonder if they might have expected that as they hungered for recognition? Perhaps they just fell into the situation with eyes sewn shut? Or maybe they tripped on a bread roll. Sorry I had a cat once it died, so my pity meter ran dry. Boo bloody hoo.
posted by econous at 1:03 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow! Brangelia got Nambia to keep some reporters away from them. What "Celebrity Colonialism!" It's like Heart of Darkness all over again!

Nice to see the libertarians over at Spiked are so worried about Colonialism, now that it's finally become a serious problem.
posted by washburn at 1:05 AM on May 31, 2006


We're talking about people who follow these celebs around, hide in the bushes, hang from trees with telescopic lenses

Or hide listening devices near their homes to try and eavesdrop on any conversations their security staff might be having re: comings and goings.

That's takin' it a bit too far.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:06 AM on May 31, 2006



Er, not to say that a lot of celebs aren't self important, over paid assholes!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:07 AM on May 31, 2006


...the country is ‘the cradle of human kind’ ?
Surely some mistake.
posted by Joeforking at 1:10 AM on May 31, 2006


nightchrome has a point: there's a difference between giving up some expectation of privacy and being subject to what is, by any reasonable standard, harassment. Practically, however, it's a difficult balance to strike.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:11 AM on May 31, 2006


Stalker laws should apply to paparazzi.
They do.

Likewise, anyone who assaults a paparazzi stalker should be cleared of any possible charges.
Why?

Are you famous? Always getting hassle at the laundromat? Can't enter the chilled goods isle without a lot of staring eyes? Perhaps Chlorpromazine will help.
posted by econous at 1:15 AM on May 31, 2006


I wonder if they might have expected that as they hungered for recognition? Perhaps they just fell into the situation with eyes sewn shut? Or maybe they tripped on a bread roll. Sorry I had a cat once it died, so my pity meter ran dry. Boo bloody hoo.

Well, maybe it did. But if people behave the way the paparazzi does, am I supposed to care if they get thrown out of random African countries? Why should I care about the freedom of empathy-free parasites? Because you happen to find the host distasteful? That's not a compelling argument.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 AM on May 31, 2006


Well that or the 'A' team.
posted by econous at 1:16 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow, I can't believe so many people here are actually shrugging their shoulders at this.
posted by JHarris at 1:41 AM on May 31, 2006


What a horrible article.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:54 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow, I can't believe so many people here are actually shrugging their shoulders at this.

I'm being a beotch and trying to sit on the fence!

I'm bloody outraged! But at the same time... meh.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 2:08 AM on May 31, 2006


Distasteful is always compelling.
posted by econous at 2:11 AM on May 31, 2006


The "small African nation of Namibia"? Looks plenty big to me... 825,418 sq km as compared to 244,820 for the UK, more than three times as big. If they can't get a simple detail like that right....
posted by pax digita at 3:13 AM on May 31, 2006


Fuck Namibia. They hate gay people there. And fuck Brad and his bitch too, for supporting such a regime.
posted by Goofyy at 3:33 AM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


good. The only way this could be better is if they DID let the paparazzi into nambia, then slaughtered them all with sledge hammers while brad and angelina quietly birthed their child in nigeria.

the article is crap. Sounds like someone is just sore that they couldn't get in. Nambia excercises its right to control its borders for its own economic benefit and some asshole cries 'colonialism'? YAWN. OMG they have a security force! Maybe if you sleezy fuckers weren't hiding in their toilets they wouldn't need one. Fuck. I equally blame all the bored pathetic simps that actually care about every stupid banal detail of a celebrity's life. ...in case you can't tell, i feel strongly about this issue.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 3:40 AM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


Fucking africa, it don't deserve no capital A. Africa should pony up the full cost of antivirals, no damn generic deals for those condom-less nomads. Christ those Herero are crazy bastards anyhow. "NO! it won't take your sodding soul.. fool". "It's just a bloody camera!" That is the single quality you like about the Herero, they kill paparazzi on site, when they see them. Sadly they then eat those paparazzi branes and 'pop' out of our dimensionality.
posted by econous at 3:54 AM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


While I agree that paparazzi are scum of the earth & could care less if they were kicked out, I think the whole "Brangelina escape to have their baby in Namibia" is nothing more than a pair of egos so inflated they probably didn't have to take an airplane to get there. There are other people just as famous who manage to have their babies without government intervention & more security than any head of state would require. These shenanigans only heightened interest in this ridiculous pair of no-talents, and that was likely the goal all along anyway.

Also, why the fuck did they name their poor baby after a dog?
posted by zarah at 4:09 AM on May 31, 2006


Man, I clicked through, and it said "Shiloh Nouvel". I was so hoping for "Spot Pitt".
posted by Hubajube at 4:16 AM on May 31, 2006


They're just practicing for the Galt's Gulch section of the Atlas Shrugged movie, only with a small African nation instead of a magically hidden valley.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:32 AM on May 31, 2006


Nice to see the libertarians over at Spiked

Libertarians at Spiked? Since when?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:52 AM on May 31, 2006


I'm not going to defend the paparazzi, not after Mel Gibson's hairdresser showed me how awful they are (andwasn'itashameormaybeaconspiracyitwasn'tnominated), but remember the laws that let Tom Sizemore-esque creeps try to kill you in the name of photojournalism are also the laws that keep politicians within spitting distance of the straight and narrow. Hang the paparazzo and you won't ever have to worry about being upset by NSA wire taps again. You'll never hear a thing about them. Except a click when you pick up the phone.
posted by yerfatma at 5:15 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow, I can't believe so many people here are actually shrugging their shoulders at this.

Me too. Not that I expect people to be outraged or anything—hey, it's only Namibia, who gives a fuck, right?—but to go straight to "paparazzi are bad, so yay!" without noticing that you're taking the side of a couple of overpaid celebrity assholes over members of the working press (yes, mostly assholes too, but certainly no worse than Brad and Angelina) and supporting the right of celebrities to push entire nations around... well, it seems a bit simple-minded to me.

As far as I'm concerned, when you sign up for the "overpaid movie star" ride, you automatically accept being harassed by overeager cameramen, it's part of the deal. I can't stand hearing celebrities whine about how miserable it makes their lives: "I can't even go to the coffee shop like a normal person!" Well, change your name and move back to Dubuque, then. Asshole.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 AM on May 31, 2006


"supporting the right of celebrities to push entire nations around"
are you serious? don't think for a second that nambia isn't drooling thinking about the possible increase in tourism (>>tax revenue).

Its not like brad and angelina's security detail over powered their national defences. They came and said "we'll start babbling about nambia being the birthplace of man kind if you will l keep the ass holes out."

when you sign up for the "LA sex worker" ride, you automatically accept physical abuse, rape and VD, it's part of the deal. I can't stand hearing hookers whine about how miserable it is being raped.

look, im totally a n00b here, but Ive been around long enough to know you're damn smart. How can you be so stupid in this regard? No on deserves to be stalked and harassed. Having a camera pointed at your back patio at all hours is bull shit - no matter how rich your are.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 5:46 AM on May 31, 2006


when you sign up for the "LA sex worker" ride, you automatically accept physical abuse, rape and VD

Yeah, that's just the same as having your picture taken. And being a movie star is just like being a prostitute. If only some kind stranger would come and help them out of the hell into which they have descended!

You're right, I don't know how I could have been so stupid. Thanks for bringing me to my senses.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 AM on May 31, 2006


im taking issue with you deciding which professions can be robbed of their dignity, or how much money someone has to have before you can photograph them taking a pee.

suggesting that humiliation is a necessary part of any job is in fact fucking stupid.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 6:10 AM on May 31, 2006


Do political journalists make the same sort of effort to get a story that entertainment photographers/reporters do?

What if celebrities didn't try to hide at all, stepped into the public and allowed themselves to be photographed at all times. Wouldn't the photographers grow tired of it? Isn't it really only such a big deal because it is difficult to get the photos? If they act like it's not all such a big deal, will the press be less likely to treat it like a big deal?
posted by flarbuse at 6:24 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow. It's been a while since I've seen so much vitriol in a single thread.
posted by Zinger at 6:27 AM on May 31, 2006


Brad, Angelina...

Who are these people and why should I care?
posted by three blind mice at 6:32 AM on May 31, 2006


flarbuse Shapes Under Water, they are still shapes right?
posted by econous at 6:41 AM on May 31, 2006


How long before a celeb just buys the country outright?
posted by Vindaloo at 6:47 AM on May 31, 2006


Here's a thought. If you don't want to be on the cover of every gossip rag and stalked by photographers perhaps you shouldn't have an affair with your equally famous, and famously married co-star. Or perhaps you shouldn't use adopted children from abroad as PR ploys and photogenic accessories while you world-hop from tragedy to tragedy.

Plenty of celebs live low-key lives and manage to maintain their privacy and their stardom. I'm with languagehat. Cry me a fucking river.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 6:52 AM on May 31, 2006


Wow, I can't believe so many people here are actually shrugging their shoulders at this.
posted by JHarris at 1:41 AM PST on May 31


If the only vote one has is their dollars (and attention), spending money on Brad/Angelonia helps justify the MPAA and the laws the MPAA backs.

So *meh* about 'em.

Now, if this was about "Or hide listening devices near their homes to try and eavesdrop on any conversations their security staff might be having re: comings and goings.", that I could get a bit excited about. And direct 'em to us 'em on the militray-industrial-congressional complex.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:53 AM on May 31, 2006


Much ado about nothing
posted by elpapacito at 7:04 AM on May 31, 2006


So I can assume, then, that we've solved all the real problems in the world?
posted by briank at 7:10 AM on May 31, 2006


While there is a certain amount (sometimes in excess) of ego at play in any celebrity's life, nothing, not their money nor their fame should be a trade off for harassment and stalking. The paparazzi are aggressive and vicious in the ply of their trade and I hope that we as a society smarten the heck up and stop excusing their tactics and accusing them legally for what they are doing.

We can't/ shouldn't pick and choose which laws protect whom or who can get away with unethical behaviours because of their social class. No one is deserving of anything but fair protection by law or fair punishment in violation of it.
posted by verveonica at 7:12 AM on May 31, 2006


I hope that we as a society smarten the heck up and stop excusing their tactics and accusing them legally for what they are doing.

The worst of their strong-arm tactics is when they force people to read the media those expensive pix appear in. I hate getting arm-barred into 6 copies of Us Weekly when I'm at the grocery store.
posted by yerfatma at 7:15 AM on May 31, 2006


Stalking is one thing, and I'm not going to argue about whether or not the "journalists" of the world are stalking celebrities, but... that "I can't go to a coffeeshop without being recognized!" Why on earth did you want to be famous if you want to be left alone? I'm not talking picture taking, I'm just talking people coming up to you and saying "OMIGOD! You're that guy from that thing! I love you!" when you just want a muffin.

This is why I only aspire to being internet-famous.

As to Brad and Angelina and Namibia... it all reeks of a scam to one-up Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. "They may be Scientologists, but we're giving birth in NAMIBIA. Which most of you have never even HEARD OF. NA NA NA."

(That said, the minute someone has pictures of either of these babies, I am all over it. After all, I read Perez Hilton daily. I am not above these shenanigans. I only console myself that I am not pouring any actual currency into the situation.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2006


Modern Hollywood is a symptom of America's moral collapse. The fact that we collectively give these artists and entertainers obscene amounts of wealth and power and then pay an industry of voyeurs to give us visual access to their private lives is profoundly perverse. This disease is slowly eating our culture, but Rome didn't burn in a day.
posted by squirrel at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2006


PS: How weird is it going to be to be growing up and have everyone on earth know who you are and your parents have saved your birth announcements from the covers of Us Weekly? WEIRD.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2006


grapefruitmoon writes "that 'I can't go to a coffeeshop without being recognized!' Why on earth did you want to be famous if you want to be left alone?"

This is why I've decided not to become famous. Sorry, movie-fans.
posted by mullacc at 7:36 AM on May 31, 2006


I couldn't care less if Pitt and Jolie lived or died. I normally wouldn't give them any thought. I've never seen Ms. Jolie act, and the last time I saw Pitt he was being an annoying ham and getting in Ed Norton's way in Fight Club.

And yet, without choosing to, I KNOW about them. There is no corner of this earth that is free from the details of their lives. An unintended glance at the magazines in the grocery store is all it takes.

That offends me. That two people I would never choose to know the slightest detail about have managed to intrude into my concsiousness, unwanted and uninvited, offends me.
posted by slatternus at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2006


I couldn't possibly be less sympathetic with the article. This guy is talking like journalists have a god-given right to go wherever they want, for any reason. Well, they don't. And then he's talking like Pitt and Jolie have committed some sort of mortal sin by lending their fame to an impoverished country in exchange for extra security. Well, it isn't. The worst part is when he calls them poseurs for spending so much time in Africa. Conveniently, he doesn't mention all the money they've given to Namibia directly, outside of the fact that they're putting it on the map for a lot of people who didn't even know it existed.

Young, rich, popular, famous people going to third-world countries, praising those countries publicly, and spreading their wealth around. The government of the country they give birth in allowing them to choose which reporters can come in to take pictures of them for tabloids. What a travesty. Obviously, the piece of shit who wrote the article couldn't get on the list.
posted by bingo at 8:13 AM on May 31, 2006


The weirdest part of this was the "OMG Colonialism they won't even let people kill rhinos and gorillas right outside their door!"

I stopped reading as the article became progressively more poorly written, like some perverse corruption of the inverted pyramid.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 AM on May 31, 2006


yerfatma writes "Hang the paparazzo and you won't ever have to worry about being upset by NSA wire taps again. You'll never hear a thing about them. Except a click when you pick up the phone."

Digital taps don't click so your worry free.

Bill Gates pulled something similar, he rented every single hotel room and charter on a Hawaiian island for the day of his wedding so he wouldn't have to worry about press.
posted by Mitheral at 8:15 AM on May 31, 2006


Actors are very important. So important that they sell rights to photograph their children for millions.

Exclusive rights. To photograph their children. For millions of dollars.

Jimmy Dean, we hardly knew you. RIP.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 8:26 AM on May 31, 2006


languagehat : "As far as I'm concerned, when you sign up for the 'overpaid movie star' ride, you automatically accept being harassed by overeager cameramen, it's part of the deal. I can't stand hearing celebrities whine about how miserable it makes their lives: 'I can't even go to the coffee shop like a normal person!' Well, change your name and move back to Dubuque, then. Asshole."

I'm surprised at this response from you.

Papparazzis are assholes. They do asshole like things.

From the moral standpoint, what "should" happen is that papparazzis should stop being assholes. It's not like acting in a movie is somehow a bad thing which results in a karmically deserved harrassment by assholes.

However, you're arguing from a practical standpoint, and that's cool by me. If you are a celebrity, the fact is that papparazzis are gonna be assholes. One possible way to avoid that situation is to stop being a celebrity. However, another possible way to avoid that situation is to go to Namibia and to get the government to bounce out the papparazzis.

So why is it that the functional approach they took is bad, but the one you advocate is good? Seems to me they're both pretty much equally successful.
posted by Bugbread at 9:00 AM on May 31, 2006


flarbuse : "What if celebrities didn't try to hide at all, stepped into the public and allowed themselves to be photographed at all times. Wouldn't the photographers grow tired of it? Isn't it really only such a big deal because it is difficult to get the photos? If they act like it's not all such a big deal, will the press be less likely to treat it like a big deal?"

I've thought about this a lot (there are a lot more celebrities in Japan than the US), and at first I thought "You know, if I were ever a celebrity, I'd just be out there in the public all the time, riding trains, going to regular supermarkets, etc.". However, there's a very popular entertainment agency called "Johnnies" here, and for their younger actors, they require just that: they have to ride the train, live publicly, etc. What happens is that papparazzis don't care so much about the actors, but regular people swamp them everywhere they go, taking pictures, ringing their doorbells, following them around town, etc. So being superpublic just swaps one type of annoyance (papparazzis taking pictures of you pooping) with another type of annoyance (being followed and photographed everywhere you go by hordes of teenage and preteen girls).

Note: My wife, as an elementary school student, was told by one of the parents of one of the Johnnies idols to please stop ringing their doorbell all the time in hopes that he would answer the door.
posted by Bugbread at 9:09 AM on May 31, 2006


Exclusive rights. To photograph their children. For millions of dollars.

As I understand it, (even without actively paying attention to the issue), the money will go to some charity. Nevertheless, it says something about your sense of self importance that you'd even arrange for that sort of thing to happen. But then again, they named their little whelp "Messiah" - and the crazy ass bitch probably believes the kid is the chosen one too.
posted by slatternus at 9:51 AM on May 31, 2006


For what it's worth, the antics of Kate Moss and Pete Doherty are several times more interesting. Even Lindsay Lohan seems to be getting in drama filled fights. Helping impoverished countries does not make good gossip. I'm fairly convinced this is self-perpetuating.
posted by geoff. at 9:56 AM on May 31, 2006


... with another type of annoyance (being followed and photographed everywhere you go by hordes of teenage and preteen girls).

I'm not sure how this qualifies as a bad thing?
posted by soiled cowboy at 10:57 AM on May 31, 2006




Wow. It's been a while since I've seen so much vitriol in a single thread.

Yeah, it's a bit suprising. A few guys set the tone at the very beginning and it just went from there. Having posted the article, I actually agree with many of the disparaging remarks -- the guy does seem like a schmuck and the writing isn't very good. Nonetheless, I thought it was worth talking about. Paparazzi are disgusting, so are movie stars for that matter. Africa is still, in effect, a colonial entity. We still push it around. We start civil wars in the Congo so we can secure its minerals where millions of people die. And when the day is done, public figures stand on top of it and channel pity for it to their own poll ratings.

As for the vitriol, well, you get some people who sit around on Metafilter refreshing it all day waiting to be the first to post in the strongest possible terms how little they care. All it does is make it difficult for anyone who does care to say anything.
posted by bukharin at 11:41 AM on May 31, 2006


Well, you learn something new every day. 'Shiloh' does mean 'messiah.' And to think the neighbors felt I was being self-aggrandizing when I named my son Cthulhu!
posted by maryh at 11:49 AM on May 31, 2006


Papparazzis are assholes. They do asshole like things.

Yes, of course. And? Most of us go through each day dealing with assholes, and we don't have hordes of PR assholes and security assholes and compliant third-world governments to fend them off from us. Why exactly am I supposed to feel sorry for people who get zillions of dollars in exchange for fending off assholes?

Are you really OK with the fact that these pampered movie stars can go to a sovereign government and successfully tell them "keep journalists we don't like out of the country"? I dunno, it doesn't seem to me that it's one of the classical functions of government to keep celebrities happy. But what do I know, I'm an anarchist.
posted by languagehat at 12:10 PM on May 31, 2006


you get some people who sit around on Metafilter refreshing it all day waiting to be the first to post in the strongest possible terms how little they care. All it does is make it difficult for anyone who does care to say anything.

I agree, bukharin. It's very annoying. But fuck 'em. If I see a MeFi post that is of no interest, I pass over it. I'm amazed that people have the time to be professional buzzkillers.
posted by digaman at 12:42 PM on May 31, 2006


languagehat : "Most of us go through each day dealing with assholes, and we don't have hordes of PR assholes and security assholes and compliant third-world governments to fend them off from us. Why exactly am I supposed to feel sorry for people who get zillions of dollars in exchange for fending off assholes?"

You're not.

Personally, I feel sorry for anyone who deals with assholes. Whether that person makes more or less money than I do doesn't factor much into it. Neither does their choice of career, unless it's something odious (child pornographer, RIAA lawyer, politician, mobster). I'm no fan of big actors/actresses, but I don't consider their career odious, just incredibly uninteresting to me. So I feel as sorry for Brad Pitt dealing with stalkers when he goes to pick up the newspaper as I would for the owner of the bookstore down the street, or the clerk at my supermarket.

languagehat : "Are you really OK with the fact that these pampered movie stars can go to a sovereign government and successfully tell them 'keep journalists we don't like out of the country'?"

Well, more or less, yes, I'm OK with it, based on the specifics of the case. If they were going to Namibia to rape and eat babies, and got the government to keep away any prying reporters who were on the trail of the case, then I wouldn't be OK. Papparazzis are reporters in only the most limited, technical sense of the word, so my desire for governments to give them leeway is also in the most limited sense. I think governments should give protection and freedom to journalists, but I don't think a press club card gives you a green light to be a stalker and get away with it. What they're doing isn't so much reporting as stalking, and if a government wants to prevent stalkers from stalking their prey into their country, more power to 'em.
posted by Bugbread at 1:12 PM on May 31, 2006


Fair enough. I can respect your approach, even if I'm not able to share it.
posted by languagehat at 2:52 PM on May 31, 2006


Isn't this the exact same type of thing that Corporations do with factories, oil fields and mines. "I have something that may benefit you economically, make these concessions I want and I will allow you to benefit"

I submit this question to the panel: You have something that you can give away....somebody can steal it...or you can sell it for millions and millions of dollars. The thing is your childs image, or your privacy, or a painting of dogs on velvet, it doesn't matter what it is really. Do you sell it...let it get stolen...or give it awy?
posted by Megafly at 3:00 PM on May 31, 2006


Yes, I think you've put your finger on at least part of what bothers me about this. Mr. & Mrs. Celebrity are willing to put up with the paparazzi if they're going to go out to some famous Hollywood restaurant, but if they're going to bother to Do Good in your miserable little shithole of a country, you'd better make it convenient for them. Obviously what they're doing is far better than what Giant MegaCorp is doing while extorting concessions, but it's a similar attitude, and I don't like it.
posted by languagehat at 3:21 PM on May 31, 2006


I share your distaste for condescension, languagehat, but perhaps you're wrong about their attitude. I've done a lot of traveling in third world countries, and I have found in myself a milder sense of the same entitlement you speak of, (i.e. I require running water, even if 60% of the population doesn't have it. I have the money you want, so provide it and I'll pay). What wealthy, powerful people do is the same, but on a different scale.

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it seems to me that your core objection is the flaunting of power. This seems hypocritical when you and I flaunt power every day just by living under conditions available in the west. You're probably aware of this, so let me further say that I infer from your expressed distaste an objection to someone with more power than you have. To some degree, I share your objection, hypocritical as it is. And btw, I've been reading you for years: an anarchist you ain't.
posted by squirrel at 3:44 PM on May 31, 2006


languagehat : "Mr. & Mrs. Celebrity are willing to put up with the paparazzi if they're going to go out to some famous Hollywood restaurant, but if they're going to bother to Do Good in your miserable little shithole of a country, you'd better make it convenient for them."

From what I understand, though, part of the reason for this trip is to avoid paparazzi. This is generally not why celebrities go to restaurants, so the comparison doesn't really hold. If you're going somewhere partially in order to avoid paparrazi, it wouldn't make sense that you should be willing to put up with papparazzi there because you put up with them in locations which you aren't going to in order to evade papparazzi.

However, I understand your feeling on the issue, and that's part of the reason that I say that I don't have a problem with this particular case, but the same cannot be said for all imaginable similar cases. In the same way, with corporations: If Giant MegaCorp says "We'll build facility X in your city if you widen the streets near the facility and provide a backup water supply", I wouldn't be annoyed. If Giant MegaCorp says "We'll build facility X in your city if you relax pollution standards and buy us hookers", I would be annoyed. Similar attitude, similar behaviour, but the devil is in the details.
posted by Bugbread at 3:48 PM on May 31, 2006


From what I understand, though, part of the reason for this trip is to avoid paparazzi.

Sure, but lh's point is still valid: are they going to pull up stakes the second a flash goes off? I realize they may feel "no good deed goes unpunished", but nuts to that.
posted by yerfatma at 4:13 PM on May 31, 2006


yerfatma : "are they going to pull up stakes the second a flash goes off?"

If they do, then they're assholes too.
posted by Bugbread at 4:35 PM on May 31, 2006


This seems hypocritical when you and I flaunt power every day just by living under conditions available in the west.

Of course it is. I've never claimed not to be hypocritical. On the other hand, if I think the conditions available in a third-world country will be too primitive for me, I don't go; if I do go, I make do with what's available. I've stayed in some real fleabags and put up with crap I wouldn't put up with at home because it was worth it to me to have the experience of being there. I think one of the things you lose as a celebrity is the experience of choosing to put up with things; there are so many annoyances that magically go away because of your money and clout that anything that doesn't (like paparazzi) becomes an OUTRAGE. Remember that Beatles song "Taxman"? I can never enjoy it, because I think "the reason they're taking so much money is because you're making more than 99% of the population." I may not approve of taxes, but that doesn't mean I enjoy the spectacle of rich people whining about them. Which brings us to:

I've been reading you for years: an anarchist you ain't.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this; I'll assume that it's not a simple-minded "anarchists are out throwing rocks through the windows of McDonalds" but rather puzzlement that I seem to accept the premises of life under governments. Well, the fact is that I basically do, because I'm a practical man. When I was younger I thought all sorts of radical changes were right around the corner; now, I increasingly suspect nothing important ever changes, and I'm simply not willing to spend my life beating my head against a brick wall. Philosophically, I'm outraged at the very idea of somebody being able to set the conditions for my life because they have the gunpower, but such has been the case for many millennia and is going to be the case for the foreseeable future, and like just about everyone else I've adapted to it: I don't go around doing things that will get me tossed in jail and I lead the most comfortable life I can under the circumstances. You can say I'm not a "real" anarchist if you like, and I won't argue, but by my lights I'm an anarchist, and I figure that at least by calling myself one in public (and not being a young asshole throwing bricks through windows) I'm making the idea of anarchism marginally more acceptable. And I can quote Proudhon and Godwin and Tolstoy till the cows come home.

If they do, then they're assholes too.

I don't think we have a serious disagreement, then.
posted by languagehat at 5:15 PM on May 31, 2006


Wow. I never thought about any of this, thanks.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:29 PM on May 31, 2006


I know I always plan my vacations according to the ramblings of some celebs.
posted by HTuttle at 6:33 PM on May 31, 2006


Who would have thought that you could have a serious moral discussion about the Brangelina baby.

languagehat: I think the problem here is that you're looking at this from law standpoint rather then an 'act' stand point. In general, powerful people should not be able to control who enters and leaves a country for their own personal satisfaction.

But in this specific case I have to side with Brad and Angelina, the paparazzi are really repugnant.

It's like the time Buzz Aldrin punched that moon landing denier. In general, we believe people shouldn't go around punching each other, but in this case it's hard not to take Aldrin's side. In fact Aldrin was never arrested or prosecuted.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on May 31, 2006


Do political journalists make the same sort of effort to get a story that entertainment photographers/reporters do?

Hm, yes? There's all kinds. There's those who are paid only to type down politicians statements, press releases, and conferences, there's the suckers and sycophanths, but there's also those who risk going to so-called troublespots, if not outright war zones, including all those who got kidnapped and/or killed in Iraq.

The paparazzi working for gossip mags are still part of the same category no matter what they do.

Freedom of the press from government and military interference is not predicated on the nature, target and value of the particular journalists' work.

This guy is talking like journalists have a god-given right to go wherever they want, for any reason. Well, they don't.

Well, you're wrong. See above paragraph.

We're talking of two celebrities dictating their demands to the government and military of a country. The fact that government is only too happy to concede for potential tourist revenue doesn't make this excusable, it makes it worse.

It's kind of shocking that there's people who don't get that.
posted by funambulist at 5:14 AM on June 1, 2006


Thanks, funambulist. Well said.
posted by languagehat at 5:25 AM on June 1, 2006


bugbread: the difference between Brad Pitt and the owner of the bookstore down the street is not simply 'fame' in the abstract. There's plenty of other actors who may not be stellar famous like Pitt but are also very recognisable and far from being unknown bookstore guy, and yet don't get such obsessive gossip interest. Why? Because they never courted it in the first place.

Pitt, Jolie, they're the kind of celebrites that owe at least half their fame to willingly feeding the press details on their love life, and that fame leads to more promotion for their movies and their earnings skyrocketing, not just for movies, also for photo shoots and advertising. It surely isn't their acting talent that makes them earn millions for each role.

When you play that celebrity game yourself, you can't expect to have total control on whatever else gets out that is not approved by your PR agents.

I don't have any hatred for celebrities and don't deny there's an ugly side to the paparazzi and obsessive gossip attention from the public, but as someone already said, laws for stalkers apply to them too already, so no, it's not the same thing as a stalker, unless they do cross that line. Paparazzi are not the ones getting special treatment.

This is not simply celebs finding means to escape paparazzis and enjoy a quiet holiday somewhere - when you have that much money and so many people working for you, it can be done, and it has been done - this is celebs getting a government involved to impose conditions on the press. That it's gutter press doesn't make it any less outrageous. I don't care what the political bias of Spiked magazine is, they're right on the money about this.
posted by funambulist at 5:37 AM on June 1, 2006


And yeah, what languagehat and ereshkigal45 already said too.
posted by funambulist at 5:45 AM on June 1, 2006


You make some good points, funambulist. I hesitate to call paparazi journalists, though, any more than I would call a garden variety window-peeper a journalist. While, technically, they're reporting, the protection of the press (which is constitutional, not universal, btw) is intended to keep the workings of a democratic state exposed to sunshine. Using it to protect stalkers with cameras may be a stretch.
posted by squirrel at 7:57 AM on June 1, 2006


Damn, I guess the "article was so badly written" that nobody bothered to read it. Doesn't seem like any of you got to the part where it quoted Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) which said that Pitt and Jolie's security entourage and Namibian police made unconstitutional unwarranted door to door searches of private citizen's homes to make sure that no paparazzi were lurking within.

But who cares about the constitutional rights of some African in a poor African country, paparazzis are dicks!
posted by sic at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2006


HTuttle writes "I know I always plan my vacations according to the ramblings of some celebs"

Scarily your not alone.

funambulist writes "Pitt, Jolie, they're the kind of celebrites that owe at least half their fame to willingly feeding the press details on their love life, and that fame leads to more promotion for their movies and their earnings skyrocketing, not just for movies, also for photo shoots and advertising. It surely isn't their acting talent that makes them earn millions for each role."

Yes. Contrast Angie with Sandra Bullock. The only time I ever remember hearing anything about Sandra in the news was when she gave that swack load of money to the tsunami relief.
posted by Mitheral at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2006


squirrel, you're right freedom of the press is not a universal right in practice, but it is in principle, at least for basic democratic standards.

In any case, I don't really think it is defined by intent "to keep the workings of a democratic state exposed to sunshine", otherwise it would apply only to journalists who report on government politics. It applies to everybody working in information media.

In countries where there are press unions or organised bodies of some kind to represent reporters and/or photographers, I'm pretty sure they don't exclude those who work in the gossip field, and a gossip publication is subject to the same legal requirement and rights as any other.

All I'm saying it doesn't matter what judgement of value or ethics we give to the work of paparazzis.

They're within their rights to do their job, they're not doing anything illegal, and when they do cross a line and act as actual stalkers breaking into people's homes they can get treated as such under existing laws. (Unless they get beaten up by the security guards first. If not by the celebrities themselves.)

It's not the specific work of chasing after pics and stories about Brad and Angelina's baby that deserves protection, it's the principles of not having arbitrary government restrictions of the press and not being searched illegally. You can't make exceptions by saying, oh well who cares, working for gossip mags is a crap undignified job anyway, they don't deserve to be treated as members of the press. They are members of the press. The cultural/moral judgement on their work has nothing to do with it, just like political bias or sycophancy doesn't strip a political reporter of their status and rights as members of the press.

(And shit, yeah, here we have illegal searches done on ordinary citizens, not just reporters...)
posted by funambulist at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2006


correction - a gossip publication is subject to the same legal requirement and rights as any other

or even, a gossip column/story/movie-premiere-review within any kind of publication or tv news, including the 'serious' one. There isn't always such a clearcut distinction...
posted by funambulist at 9:32 AM on June 1, 2006


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