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Writer's Block: The Right to Privacy [Aug. 16th, 2009|04:22 pm]

Should some parts of celebrities' lives be off-limits to the public, or is giving up privacy a fair price for being famous?
Everybody needs some privacy.   Celebrities have a right to be human--and humans don't need to be squashed every second of every day.  Trespassing and obstructing should be illegal anywhere they're not, and the hordes of pushy, noisy "news media" should be run out of town.    And the rest of us need to mind our own business and not give a flip if some celebrity goes out without makeup,  gains 5, 10, whatever pounds,  has dinner with a friend, etc. So what?    Get a life.  Ignore them except on those occasions where they ARE showing off (the red carpet, if you care about that kind of thing.)  

If you have a prurient interest in someone else's private life--anyone's--ask yourself why your life is so boring that you have to know what someone else is wearing/doing/saying every minute of the day.   Then fix it, so you don't care any more if some screen star does or does not eat a doughnut.   Don't buy the magazines.  Don't watch the gossip shows.   Go to the celebrities' movies (if you want), or listen to their music (if you want), or go to the concerts (if you want) but have the grace to let them be off duty at least some of the time.  And off duty means off duty.  No pictures, no screaming fans, no requests for autographs...just let them be.  What they "owe" anyone else is their talent, used during their business hours.  Period.  


[User Picture]From: green_knight
2009-08-16 10:06 pm (UTC)
I don't get celebrity cult at all. One of our newspapers today (the worst of them) had a picture of some starlet or other (I'd never heard of her) taking cocaine in her own bathroom. And while I don't approve of a drug habit, the idea that the poor woman gets filmed *inside her bathroom* is enough to drive anyone insane.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-08-16 11:42 pm (UTC)
My outrage at abusive misuse of "freedom of the press" actually started with disaster work (I was in EMS)--in one instance, we had a tornado go through nearby and the fire phone (there was no 911 service in this county at the time) was swamped by reporters calling and demanding to be told what was happening...while we (the emergency workers) needed it to communicate with other emergency workers. Then there were the reporters/photographers taking pictures of injured people (without their consent) in the parking lot of a California hospital after an earthquake--and those who were proud of sneaking into an ER to take pictures of someone after a more personal disaster. It's effing disgusting! And they ask the stupidest questions, and feed the poor shell-shocked victims of disaster the lines they want them to say, and I just want to snatch their cameras and recorders away and say "Either get busy and help or get the h*ll out."

And then celebrities. The little I know (since reporting on celebrities has replaced real news reporting, it's more than I want to know) suggests that I would probably not want most celebrities as my personal friends--we have little in common, and their lifestyle is not mine. But so? If another press-decribed Bad Boy or Vapid Blonde does something stupid, why should I care? It's just as bad if I use their stupidity to pat myself on the back for being smarter as if I sympathize with it...it's just none of my business. And I don't want it to be my business. I don't want to see them, talk to them, hear about them except--for those who have a real talent and are more than "a celebrity" (IOW, actor, singer, songwriter, musician, dancer, etc.) when they are doing the thing for which they earned the label. I'm completely comfortable with them not having a clue who I am, and not caring about me. If I see one drowning in a ditch, I'll pull him/her out if I can (the "if" looms larger as I get older.) But that's a generic thing: see person drowning in ditch, DO something useful.
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[User Picture]From: blackcoat
2009-08-16 10:41 pm (UTC)
In other words, celebrities are collectively not our bitch? ;-)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-08-16 11:43 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Nor, for that matter, is any other category.
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[User Picture]From: deliasherman
2009-08-16 11:04 pm (UTC)
You said just exactly what I've been thinking. And very well, too. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-08-16 11:44 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, of course. Sometimes the words arrange themselves felicitously.
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[User Picture]From: hoosier_red
2009-08-17 12:41 am (UTC)
Exactamundo. Do unto celebrities as you would have them do unto you when you're tired and running to the 7-11 at 11:30 PM for some Coke.
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[User Picture]From: timill
2009-08-17 02:17 am (UTC)
I'd make a limited exception for celebrities who use their fame to push some ideal and then are found not to be living up to it.

Examples might include TV preachers who inveigh against adultery but are found practising it, or vegetarians who castigate the rest of us for eating meat and are then found tucking into a nice steak.
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[User Picture]From: litch
2009-08-17 03:48 am (UTC)

You want privacy? Move to nebraska.

With some exceptions (i.e. Cpt. Sullenberger) being a celebrity is the result of conscious choices. It takes a lot of time, money, & effort to cultivate & maintain that status, and once you've roused the beast you deserve to live with the negative consequences. I'll have sympathy for someone complaining about having their privacy invaded by the paparazzi when they have moved to the middle of nowhere (or at least away from LA/NY), don't spend the GNP of a small african nation on accouterments, and fire their publicist. It doesn't mean you can't be a musician or an actor, though it might mean you can't be a rock star or a movie star.

ask yourself why your life is so boring [...]Then fix it
That's not really realistic. There are a lot of people living miserable lives who are incapable of changing them, trapped being broke, fat, dumb, and ugly.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-08-17 12:04 pm (UTC)

Re: You want privacy? Move to nebraska.

Poppycock. The kind of intense curiosity that results from having paparazzi invading other people's yards to get to yours, and having to have your baby in a foreign country so the tabloids don't bribe someone to let a photographer into the birthing suite is not the result of someone "choosing" to be a celebrity. It's the results of the same kind of nosiness that makes peeping toms and upskirters, and it should not be encouraged, period. An avid interest in seeing others at their worst transcends gender, income level, weight, and intelligence.

There are plenty of decent non-celebrities who have quiet lives--not entirely miserable--and ignore the whole tabloid mess. Anyone--any income level, any size, any level of intelligence, any standard of beauty--can choose to mind their own business (which includes their community, of course)...and their own business will fare better as a result. Living through someone else's glory is a bad strategy; being eager to see the faults of those you envy is a bad strategy.

Your attitude is that of the king who cut off the tall stalks of wheat (and anyone with 'too much' talent.) Bad strategy on that one, too...ensures that people conceal their abilities until they can topple the throne.
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[User Picture]From: litch
2009-08-18 03:49 am (UTC)

Re: You want privacy? Move to nebraska.

There are plenty of [people who] ignore the whole tabloid mess. Anyone [...] can choose to mind their own business

I don't think so. The fact that there are plenty of people who can drink socially in a controlled manner doesn't negate the fact that there are alcoholics who can't. A fixation on celebrity is probably less disruptive than alcoholism but I believe there are people who are just as incapable of controlling that.
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From: (Anonymous)
2009-08-17 12:47 pm (UTC)
I've heard a quite plausible theory that the obsessive interest in celebrity life that has developped is due to the dispersal of traditional communities. Gossip (the sharing of which is vital for maintaining social connections in most communities) used to be about people in your village that everyone knew - because everyone knew everyone else in the village. It gave you something more than banal small-talk about the weather with which to converse with most people you met.

Now that can't happen because there aren't the same tight-knit village communities, thus, in order to have people to gossip about, celebrities and TV soaps gained popularity. Granted, this doesn't explain the obsessive interest, but it does explain (and perhaps justify) the popularity of celebrity gossip magazines, &c.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-08-19 02:03 pm (UTC)
When I look at the timeline of "gossip" as a paying job, though, that doesn't seem quite plausible. There's a special kind of entitlement being expressed (and was from the beginning, with Hedda Hopper for instance), most usually about people whose jobs are tied to entertaining the masses(though it's also spread to the wealthy and politically prominent) and it started before the small communities died out (to the extent they have.) It goes along with a resentment of their perceived privilege and a vicious streak of "They DESERVE misery, they ASKED for it." A lot of it is wallowing in glee over someone else's problems.

Although gossip was one of the social binders in small communities, its destructive power was also recognized, and typically directed against outsiders (to be called a gossip, to have one's social talk described as gossip, was never a compliment.) But commercial gossip, from the first, was negative....and I suspect its real attraction was that it's the kind of gossip you can't spread about your neighbors without causing social disruption--not social binding. It's the lure of the forbidden (which is why I said it was prurient interest.) It lets people act like peeping toms and upskirters without actually doing the acts themselves, while defending themselves against criticism by saying celebrities "asked for it" by daring to stick out and no longer have any right to decent treatment and privacy.

People still gossip about their neighbors. They don't have to know them lifelong to gossip about them ("You know that guy in the corner apartment--did you know he painted his foyer lime green with *stripes*?? I saw it when he opened the door." "Just wait until the super finds out--") They can now gossip about the people they know online--both in person ("This gal I know online, she told about cheating on her boyfriend--I wish I knew who he was, I'd tell him...") and in other online venues. Supporting celebrity gossip outlets is different.

It's also displaced real news (that is, substantive reporting of events and issues that citizens really should know about)--when you compare the ratio of news to gossip on TV over the decades, for instance, real news has shrunk, and gossip "news" has expanded.

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[User Picture]From: kk1raven
2009-08-17 03:36 pm (UTC)
I've never understood why people care about the details of the private lives of people they don't know. I have no trouble finding so many other more interesting and important things to devote my attention to.
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[User Picture]From: sobrique
2009-08-17 06:51 pm (UTC)
I must confess, I've never really seen the appeal of the 'celebrity watching'. I mean, even famous people go to the toilet.

Actually, I have little patience even for 'non celebs' like characters in soap operas, big brother, and ... well, yeah. Life doesn't have to be that boring.
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