[The following post also appears at Black Star Rising.]
As I recently read photographer Nick Stern’s account of the mounting guilt that ultimately drove him to quit Splash Pictures, it reminded me of the quaint apologies we used to get from porn stars like Linda Lovelace when they left the adult-film business. Whatever the financial consequences, Stern proclaimed, “I can sleep at night.”
a “definite change in the perception of paparazzi pictures” had encouraged the Holy Moly administrators to shy away from publishing pictures of celebrities with their children, those not “on duty” and stars “in distress at being photographed”.
The statement added of Stern:
When one of the biggest names in paparazzi jacks it in due to ethics and morals and the world’s biggest pop star gets her knickers photographed by 30 people an hour after being released from a mental institute, you know there’s a problem on the shop floor.
But let’s be real. If the death of Princess Diana didn’t change the way the paparazzi work, neither will wall-to-wall coverage of Britney Spears — even if it leads to her death.
Just this week, an inquest into Diana’s fatal car crash heard photographers admit to reloading their cameras and taking pictures of the princess and other victims from as close as 10 feet away. They admitted that they did not attempt to assist the victims or call for help.
So Britney, you’re on your own.
In the Fame Solar System, Being Hot Is All That Matters
Forget the momentary pangs of conscience. The trend lines point to paparazzi becoming increasingly prominent figures in the business of photography — and gaining respectability along the way.
Who knows? Soon the paparazzi may be indistinguishable in the public mind from traditional photojournalists — just as self-obsessed journos like Julia Allison and Sarah Lacy are viewed as Web-era Walter Cronkites by many.
In a culture where fame is viewed as an end in itself — the ultimate symbol of success, even more than money or power — a kind of fame solar system has emerged where the closer you are to the “sun” of the A-lister, the hotter you become by association. Which makes the idea of being a paparazzi more appealing today than being, say, a typical daily newspaper photographer.
Indeed, the role of the paparazzi has been glamorized to the point where “personal paparazzi” services are emerging for “private individuals who want to experience some of the trappings of fame.” As Portfolio reports:
For only a few hundred dollars a day, they’ll follow you around and make a big show of taking your picture. One of them, Celeb 4 A Day, even prints up a mock tabloid cover showcasing your “news.”
But that’s not all. You can now teach your children to crave fame and the attention of the paparazzi, too, with the new “Paparazzi Play Set” — equipped with ravenous photographers just itching to take scandalous pics of Barbie and Ken.
Today, despite Nick Stern’s quaint resignation, we don’t live in a Linda Lovelace world. We live in a Jenna Jameson world, a “One Night in Paris” world, where there’s no shame — as long as there’s fame — in being a porn star.
And so it is with the paps.