For many years the paparazzi have followed celebrities and people of interest with the goal of gathering information concerning their private lives. It is common knowledge that many celebrities dislike the attentions of the press. However, with so many magazines and newspaper columns dedicated to the personal lives of famous people, it is unsurprising that the practice continues. The death of Princess Diana provided the world with a reason to consider placing restrictions on the activities of the press. However, all these years on, the paparazzi are still following and stalking celebrities. Although there are arguments both for and against placing restrictions on the press, it seems clear that their behaviour does, indeed, need to be controlled.
Celebrities are constantly followed by the paparazzi. Such people have their lives invaded, simply to keep the public informed of what they do in their private lives. A key example of someone who has been negatively affected by the attentions of the paparazzi so Princess Diana. The Princess was killed in a major car accident while trying to escape from the paparazzi (BBC, 2006). Perhaps more disgusting were the reports that once the car had collided, the paparazzi were seen to be standing by and photographing the scene, and making no attempt to help the victims of the accident (Raynor, 2007). Following the tragedy of the People’s Princess, many began to question the rights of the press and whether there should be harsher restrictions placed upon them and their actions. The suggestion of restricting paparazzi does not mean to ban them altogether. As John Meyer told the press: “ I don’t sit before you today to ask that you ban the paparazzi,” Mayer, 30, explained. ” I’m asking you to regulate it. Officialise it. Tax it. Legitimize it” (Mayer, 2008).
There are many arguments to support the notion of restricting the activity of the press. Firstly, such restrictions may help to protect the basic human rights of celebrities and other people who are being followed by the paparazzi. Arguably, everyone is entitled to privacy and to have a personal life, whether their profession is as a singer, a football player or a shop keeper. Following this idea, it makes sense that no one should have the right to invade another person’s privacy, including the world’s media. There is a well-known counter argument that celebrities sacrifice the right to a private life the day they enter the public domain; however, this seems absurd. Celebrities are human beings just like every other and they are equally entitled to the same human rights.
Another argument in support of the restrictions is that such rules will benefit the whole of society and not just the famous individuals in question. The idea is that if the press are allowed to continue with their stalking of celebrities, the behaviour could become even more out of control and start affecting everyone. Furthermore, with the tragedy of Princess Diana to reflect on, the effects of the press activities can be wide spread and rippling. If there had been more stringent rules on the paparazzi that night, preventing them from following the Princess, it is possible that she would still be alive today and the world would have been saved their grief.
There are many magazines on the market which solely feature information and gossip about celebrities, along with photographs of them in their private lives. As many members of the general public are interested in celebrity, the press could be led to believe that their actions are justified and even supported. However, if this unrestricted surveying is allowed to continue, the press could turn their attentions to people other than celebrities. For example, a member of the public could be photographed doing something potentially embarrassing and the picture placed in a local newspaper. If the press are permitted to do as they please with celebrities, there is arguably nothing preventing them from doing the same to anyone in the world. Therefore, if restrictions are not put in place, the problem may become even further out of control. The privacy of everyone could be destroyed and social order could be at risk.
Although the arguments in favour of placing restrictions on the paparazzi are strong, there are some who disagree with such notions.
One argument against placing restrictions is that celebrities are role models of society, and especially for young people and children. Therefore, their actions reflect on their fans and hold a great influence on them. Young people often attempt to imitate their favourite celebrities in their clothes, their general appearance, and in their behaviours. Furthermore, such behaviours are imitated, unfortunately, whether they are positive or negative. As a result of this, some people believe that the press provide a welcome monitor of such celebrities’ behaviours. As they know that the press are watching, it is arguable that they are more aware of their behaviours and are less likely to partake in antisocial behaviour such as fighting, swearing and recreational drug taking. This argument takes the position that although human rights to privacy are important, the monitoring of our next generation’s role models is more vital.
A further argument against imposing restrictions on the press is that it may result in the world losing access to valuable information in the form of news reports (Rush, 2011). In terms of politics, governments could deliberately prevent the public from learning about certain matters which they consider damaging. Obviously, this is potentially dangerous for society. The public have every right to know the truth about what is happening in their country and, indeed, the rest of the world. Restrictions on the press could result in a Big Brother attitude by the government in which they decide what the public should and should not be informed about. This is a real issue which is, arguably, more important than the privacy of individual celebrities.
The paparazzi are well-known as being a cause of despair among those they are following. Celebrities are often heard complaining about the invasion of their privacy. Although there is much public interest about the lives of such people, it seems clear that this is simply voyeurism. Learning about the personal lives of celebrities provides entertainment to some members of the public, but it is not necessary. Human rights are what holds society together. Without them, society would fall apart. Therefore, although there are valid arguments against placing restrictions on the press, it seems clear that something needs to be done to prevent the problem increasing.
BBC. “ Timeline: How Diana Died.” 2006. Web. 18 May 2012.
http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/hi/uk/6217366. stm
Mayer, J. “ John Mayer calls for Regulation of Paparazzi.” Huffington Post. 2008. Web. 18
May 2012. http://www. huffingtonpost. com/2008/08/01/john-mayer-calls-for-
Raynor, G. “ Princess Diana: Paparazzi didn’t help victims.” The Telegraph. 2007. Web. 18
May 2012. http://www. telegraph. co. uk/news/uknews/1565702/Princess-Diana-
Rush, T. “ Leveson Inquiry.” The Guardian. 2008. Web. 18 May 2012.
http://www. guardian. co. uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/25/leveson-inquiry-paparazzo-