December 10, 2010
Should Paparazzi Have the Right to Photograph Angelina's Kids?
Nicole Richie made the first move this fall, making good on her threat to file restraining orders against paparazzi who were staking out her daughter Harlow's preschool. Then in a Wednesday night appearance on Larry King Live, mother of six Angelina Jolie expressed her wish that "there will at some point be laws about how close (photographers) can get to children with cameras." The next day, Radar Online posted a photo ofJulia Roberts having a face-to-face confrontation with a photographer who took pictures of her three children. (Roberts has a history of confronting paparazzi, especially when kids are involved.)
While celebs have always taken pains to shield their kids from the spotlight, it's become much more challenging in recent years. Our national obsession with famous babies -- what Suri is wearing, what Shiloh and Zahara bought on vacation -- means that candid photos of stars' kids are in high demand. And that leads to some seriously unsavory situations, like paparazzi waiting in the bushes outside children's schools. Technically, there's no law against this, since the kids are Hollywood royalty. The problem is that the kids, unlike their spotlight-seeking parents, never asked to be in this situation.
And don't think for a minute that famous children are unaffected by the media storm. Kids are remarkably resilient, but they can also be extremely sensitive to the way grown-ups act around them. Remember when Maddox Jolie-Pitt started kindergarten in New York City? Reportedly, his teacher asked the students to bring in pictures of their families -- and Maddox started crying, because he was so traumatized about having his picture taken. In November, it was reported that one of the six-year-old Gosselin children, Collin, refused to have a school picture taken "because he's tired of being on camera." We don't really know what effect this kind of 24-7 paparazzi scrutiny has on children, since this is the first generation that's dealing with the digital age. But stories like these make us wonder if these kids will grow up permanently traumatized.
So why can't photographers just lay off famous children? The answer is simple: everybody loves looking at pictures of celebrities hanging out with their children, which means the photos are worth big bucks, which means that paparazzi will go to great lengths to get the shots. The photographers are just giving us what we want, which is a candid look into the private lives of celebrity families. And who can turn away from pictures of the adorable Jolie-Pitt clan eating gelato in Italy? In this day and age, we've grown to expect constant access to our favorite celebrities' lives. But maybe we need to change our expectations, in the hopes of giving these extra-ordinary kids a chance at a semi-normal childhood.