Lorde was right to pursue her 'stalker' paparazzo

Lorde hides from the press in New York.

Lorde hides from the press in New York. Photo: Getty

Apparently as fearless as she is preternaturally talented, Lorde has become the latest in a swelling tide of celebrities who has criticised the omnipresence of the paparazzi, firing off a searing string of tweets this week about being stalked by photographers.

“This man has been stalking me, photographing me and refusing me privacy. I am scared of him. he frequents central [Auckland],” she said, posting a photo of the snapper, Simon Runting.

She continued: “I understand that this comes with the territory. I do not understand why I should be complacent [...] This should not be an accepted standard for young women or anyone in this industry [...] I refuse to stay complicit and I refuse to stay passive about men systematically subjecting me to extreme fear.”

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield's sign for the paparazzi.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield's sign for the paparazzi. Photo: Getty

To those who’d sniff “‘Extreme fear’? Just how scary can a guy with a photographer be?”, perhaps it would pay to re-watch Notting Hill again. One creepy guy with a camera is bad enough; no doubt there are some celebrities who’d consider Lorde relatively “lucky” to be stalked by a sole paparazzo (as this ‘bird’s eye view’ of a paparazzi swarm around Jay-Z’s car should demonstrate).

Seeing the paparazzi at work is one of the more sinister displays of the society of the spectacle in action. In Los Angeles and New York especially, they roam in packs, occasionally swarming on whichever passing celebrity was unfortunate enough to have been the subject of a tip off from a cash-hungry clerk or valet.

Even as the DSLR-toting engines of the celeb gossip press have reached unprecedented levels of privacy invasion (following celebrities’ children to school is one example), the targets of their camera flashes are expected to grin and bear it. “It goes with the territory,” runs the familiar armchair commentator’s cry, “They knew what they were getting themselves into.”

Benedict Cumberbatch takes a stand against the paparazzi.

Benedict Cumberbatch takes a stand against the paparazzi. Photo: Getty

This flawless logic comes despite the fact many noted actors, musicians and artists were, in fact, “getting themselves into” a career in their chosen craft, not the “hosed down by camera flashes outside the supermarket” game.

As Lorde notes, it’s a given that the public’s desire for gossip drives the paparazzi industry; the idea that the targets of the photographers should “stay passive”, on the other hand, is a misnomer almost entirely invented by a public unable to grasp that a celebrity’s right to privacy isn’t trumped by the public’s need to “stay connected” with said celebrity’s life.

It appears that the age of complacency and passivity is drawing to a close, however, with stars like Lorde speaking out about the hounding they receive at the hands of photogs desperate to get that six-figure-sum-worthy shot.

Others have shoehorned the paparazzi’s gaze into a forum for good; Emma Stone and boyfriend Andrew Garfield directed the watchers to cancer and orphaned children’s charities, while Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch suggested it would be better to photograph the political unrest in Egypt than his face.

Much of the time I’m amazed they have the presence of mind to respond to the paparazzi in such a calm manner; the Kanye West/Russell Crowe/Sam Worthington variety (or at the very least the Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger salute) seems a more appropriate response. 

Speaking about the paparazzi’s harassment of his and other celebs’ children last year, Ben Affleck said, “The tragic thing is, people who see [pictures of kids] naturally think it's sweet. They don't see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a 4-year-old and screaming to get the kid's attention.” Terrifying for a kid; probably not much less intimidating if you’re  a 17-year-old, or just any garden variety adult human.

Think about that next time you’re browsing the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame. Stars, They’re Just Like Us: they don’t particularly want a creepy guy taking photos through their hotel window, either.

9 comments

  • As distasteful as the idea of paparazzi is, we need to go to first principles and understand why the public (mainly women) have such an appetite for celebrity news. Look at the front pages of all those women's magazines gushing about this celebrity's cellulite post-baby bikini body photograph or what some female royal is wearing (I note that the media, driven by women's demands, only focused on the recent Princess' outfits rather than anything else she did).

    Commenter
    Public Joe
    Date and time
    May 07, 2014, 8:51AM
    • (I note that the media, driven by women's demands, only focused on the recent Princess' outfits rather than anything else she did).

      She doesn't do anything else. That's the point isn't it?

      Commenter
      gb5
      Location
      prahran
      Date and time
      May 07, 2014, 1:03PM
  • I totally agree, and I really don't see the point of photos of people eating dinner, or walking their kids to school, or trying to live their lives. These areas feel off-limits to me, and I'd love to see those photos just disappear. It must be so intrusive and completely horrible. I wish there was a way to make it clear that lots of people just don't want to see these type of photographs at all.

    If I am going to look at photographs of movie stars, I much prefer seeing photos from red carpet events, where they have chosen to attend, and are nicely dressed. I know that this is still a meat market for photographers, who still scream and yell to get people's attention, but at least it's not intruding on people's personal lives.

    Commenter
    JessB
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    May 07, 2014, 9:19AM
    • If people stop buying the newspapers and magazines in which these photos appear, then the magazines will stop paying money for the photos, and the paps will be out of business. New Idea, Daily Mail and the rest need to be hit where it hurts - their circulations.

      Blame the people who buy the trash magazines, who are ironically often the same people who cluck in sympathy when stars like Lorde complain about their private lives being breached, or shake their heads in disbelief that a journalist went through Hugh Grant's dustbin - oh wait, but he has a love child! Let me call my friends!

      The people who were most hysterical about the death of Princess Di were the same people who bought the gossip mags who paid the paparazzi that contributed to her death.

      Of course it's not acceptable that people have their privacy invaded, and especially that their children can be subject to such abuse, but the essential hypocrisy of the general public is breathtaking in its grandeur.

      Commenter
      Kate
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      May 07, 2014, 9:27AM
      • If I was a celebrity I would Tweet "10k to anyone who can persuade the paparazzi to leave me alone" or something like that.

        Commenter
        greco
        Location
        mel
        Date and time
        May 07, 2014, 9:44AM
        • When I hear of a star being reprimanded for their responses to media intrusion I feel that they are being harrassed more. Although celebrities have the public realm to also complain about this harassment, unlike those in the general public that experience this, their experiences should be a warning on how not to treat anybody and that there are boundaries to stipulate what a personal life is. I also really believe, like Cumberbatch, that the effort these hacks go to could be used in really important news.

          Commenter
          LJanes
          Date and time
          May 07, 2014, 9:57AM
          • I know this has been said a million times before, but photographers wouldn't do this if there wasn't a demand for it. Celebrities wouldn't be celebrities and wouldn't make so much money if there was no interest in them. Its a catch 22.

            Commenter
            Bob
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            May 07, 2014, 10:29AM
            • Clem, the correct headline is: "Lorde was right to pursue her 'paparazzo' stalker.

              Commenter
              bearly_there
              Location
              Melb
              Date and time
              May 07, 2014, 10:51AM
              • The paparazzi form an important cog in the fame machine, frequently tipped off by the Kardashians and various other budding stars including those with talent.

                For some, it's an annoying trade-off to the many wonderful benefits of fame. The red carpet and various complicit photo spreads in Vogue or People or Rolling Stone are not mutually exclusive from being stalked outside a restaurant. They often play to the same consumer.

                By the way, the term paparazzo (like graffito) is a long-outdated term and now an affectation of sorts for the few pedants who use it. Much like "datum".

                Commenter
                sinbbq blogspot
                Location
                Jakarta
                Date and time
                May 07, 2014, 12:08PM
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