There was a neat premise at work in the first and best “Back to the Future” movie: While traveling around forward and backwards in time, a young man tried to fix the wrongs of the present by correcting them in the past after viewing the outcomes in the future. Or the other way around. It was also a neat trick when Charles Dickens tried it in “A Christmas Carol” 142 years earlier.
Bending time might not be at the heart of the current mash-up over containing LA’s teeming paparazzi, but if one looks closely enough there does seem to be a kind of time-space warp involved. We hear complaints about the paparazzi creating mischief in a quest for highly valued “exclusive” shots of “private” behaviors that celebrities have already voluntarily evidenced a million times. LA Councilman Dennis P. Zine is concerned that somebody is going to get hurt if current penalties for paparazzi-related traffic violations and misdemeanors are not beefed-up.
Meanwhile LA police chief Bratton can’t believe that at a moment when gang-related killings are up he’s being asked to even pay attention to this horse—t, and asserts that 90% of the problems Zine is concerned about are caused by misbehaving stars. Since Santa Monica is not only a home address for many celebrities but also a crossroads for hot paparazzi-on-celebrity action, we owe it to ourselves to at least examine the situation. Here are a few of the time/space complications as I see them, along with some helpful suggestions.
Please Harass Me at the Right Time
Celebrity is built in tiny increments, but some increments are bigger than others. A film premier red carpet down which “talent” slowly creeps and poses for pictures isn’t “harassment” but rather the event of large corporations using celebrity obsession culture, in which paparazzi is a critical player, to sell multi-million dollar corporate entertainment products. So “harassment,” apparently occurs when the personality worship corporations seek takes place at an inconvenient time. Imagine the Pope, icon of a different kind of cash-rich corporation, admonishing an adoring picture taking crowd with “Not now, you creeps!” and you’ll have some idea of the twist in this time-space control problem.
Can We Redefine “Privacy”?
Celebrities supporting Councilman Zine appear to seek a clearer definition of privacy; some tools for turning the publicity machinery off every once and a while. Zine himself describes the paparzzi this way: “They act like a pack of wolves stalking their prey.” But even wolves are unreliable. Solution? Rather than a system where corporate entertainment products are sold with expensive publicity efforts dependent on chance and luck (“What if Hugh Grant doesn’t get busted for prostitution as we planned…?”), corporate entertainment could instead demand that the stars generate their own publicity as needed. Imagine even the smallest non-talents releasing porn sex tapes and thus boosting their own stock value overnight. Or maybe your hotel chain is doing sluggish business and your niece– Wait! I’m already late on this one. Wow… I imagine the future but end up stealing from the past!
The paparazzi is a rag-tag army of humans who have given up on the general notion of human dignity and any defining sense of ethics and morality. Is that the team you want handling the publicity for your next $100 million live action comic book? Why not create the invasive vapid garbage nee “publicity” yourself with corporate resources (such as cable channels starving for a reason to live) under controlled conditions? For mere pennies, you could have “talent” performing in front of underpaid non-union crews utilizing cheap technology to create what we’ll call “reality” television. Cook that skunkweed long enough and you might produce an aroma fetid enough to launch a movie. Hell, Denise Richards has already been in a few movies! And here’s a bonus: Reality television will let you exploit children in ways that are technically illegal in the making of corporate motion pictures. Now take that great idea and run – what? They’re already doing that!? Dude, I am seriously time-tripping…
Can We Get Them to Throw Up?
The paparazzi endanger innocents and create unnecessary tax payer expense in the pursuit of an amorphous holy grail of naked violated privacy. I don’t know what’s on your list, but mine would certainly include vomiting on tape. Why let the paparazzi call that shot: Agents, book your talent into rehab centers that are making “reality” shows and let the barf-athon begin. What? No kidding. Already? Man, I’m so out of time synch. Well, here’s one you definitely haven’t thought of: anti-Semitism. Let your “star” get loaded and arrested, then spew some racial bigotry. Now stand back for a Hindenberg of—Say what? You can’t be serious! Well, at least he’ll never work again. There’s no amount of money that would ever – I’m sorry… what!?