Monday, July 1, 2013

Who Killed Princess Di?

When I saw the story about Halle Berry testifying in support of a proposed law to limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph the children of public figures, I was once again reminded how we Americans bring problems on ourselves.  The article explains how Ms. Berry’s daughter is afraid to go to school because of her experiences with aggressive photographers.  Other celebrities have backed this proposal in California and similar ones in other states.

The article makes very clear the motivation of these photographers.  It’s all about money.  Paparazzi are, by definition, freelance photographers.  They take the pictures that they believe they can sell to magazines and tabloids.  The magazines and tabloids, in turn, only buy the pictures that they believe will earn them a profit.

It’s the economic process in action.  Instead of someone else, usually the government or corporations, spending money and then getting it back from us through higher taxes or higher prices, this is a case where we spend money that, at the end of the chain, causes people to behave badly.  The media's profits from sales to us are used to offer big bucks to those photographers who get the most intimate and invasive pictures.  Americans get excited and snap up the tabloids as they wait in checkout lines or tune in to celebrity-gossip TV shows.  There is a market for those photos, and the simple answer to stopping the harassment is to go to the source – the nosy element of the public that creates that market.

The irony of the situation is that these same people who buy the magazines are the ones who will tell you how they love these celebrities.  They see their movies or watch them on TV, buy the products they endorse and adopt their political viewpoints.  They are the last ones who would intentionally bring harm to their heroes or their families, yet their very behavior starts a chain of transactions that does just that.

The question then is, how many mourned the loss of Princess Di, who “died in a car accident while speeding away from paparazzi in Paris with boyfriend Dodi Fayed,” while they were at the same time in some way responsible for the presence of those paparazzi?  Can they even see the connection between behaviors sparked by an unhealthy obsession with celebrity and such unfortunate incidents?  Even if conspiracy theorist are right about her death not being an accident, the guaranteed presence of paparazzi would have been used to mask the supposed plot; and this can be traced back to the behavior of some of the very people who were most shocked and saddened by her death.

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