The Paparazzi and the Legislat

Topics: Telephoto lens, Abuse, Privacy Pages: 5 (1883 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The paparazzi - a fusion of the Italian words papatacci, meaning gnat and razzi meaning the popping of flashbulbs. It is also known as aggressive photography. The word paparazzo was coined by Federico Fellini, the name he gave to a prying society cameraman in his 1959 film "La Dolce Vita". Paparazzi photographers are fueled by large sums of money offered by the tabloid press. They try to catch the rich and famous in unflattering situations. The new breed of journalism grew by leaps and bounds after the Watergate scandal first broke in Washington, DC (Petersen’s, 57). At first the paparazzi were an annoying group of photographers who were persistent when trying to get the perfect shot of a celebrity so they could sell the image for large sums of money but as technology became more advanced so did the equipment the paparazzi used - telephoto lenses, hi-tech listening devices, and powerful zoom lenses on video cameras. No major celebrity can avoid them. Emerging from cars, entering glittering parties or trying to take a secluded vacation, the glamour figures of the ‘90s are hounded mercilessly by the men-and a few women-who wield long lenses and a brazen shamelessness (Maclean, 38). Today, paparazzi’s tread on private property, film celebrities during intimate moments, and even go as far as stalking a public figure. Some of these photos can be worth in the millions of dollars. A single photograph of Prince Charles seen together with his mistress Camilla Parker-Bowles is estimated to be worth 5 million English pounds. The prince says he "would love to figure out a way for the proceeds to go to charity" (Newsweek, 95).The prince and his mistress usually arrive and depart at different times in order to avoid the paparazzi when they attend a function together. The prince has been lucky. Almost all well known faces have had run-ins with the paparazzi but many have horror stories to tell. The Screen Actors Guild has been concerned with the paparazzi and how it affects many of it’s 100,000 members. "The death of princess Diana was the final straw" according to the SAG president, Richard Masur. He, along with California Senators Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and three respected constitutional scholars had a meeting to discuss what could be done about the paparazzi. In less than four hours, they came up with the rough wording of S. 2103 (Quill, 27). Before that, Rep. Sonny Bono introduced the first bill, H. Rep. 2448, going so far as to specify prison terms for harassment that results in injury (five years) or death (20 years) (Quill, 27). The bill states that harassment would be considered "persistently physically following or chasing a victim, in circumstances where the victim has a reasonable expectation of privacy." The way that is defined, victims can sue the police department if they were videotaped "harassing" a suspect like the Rodney King videotaped beating. After Bono’s death, Rep. Elton Gallegly, a California Republican, offered H. R. 3224, a more carefully defined version of Bono’s proposal (Quill, 27). Bono’s widow succeeded her husband to keep the Bono name on H. R. 2448. There are many bills being made to stop the most aggressive of the paparazzi but many take away from the first Amendment, freedom of speech. Sen. Feinstein’s bill, S.2103, differs from the House bills because it also provides for civil actions against members of the press for use of high-powered lenses, microphones, or helicopters used to trespass for commercial purposes. This provision attempts to supplement existing laws of trespass, creating a new legal cause of action for new forms of trespass made possible by modern technology. Victims can recover compensatory, and punitive damages and may also seek injunctive and declamatory relief (Quill, 21). All three paparazzi bills-H. R. 2448 and 3224 in the House, and S. 2103 in the Senate-would, in their own way, create new...
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