Paparazzi, Celebrity Kids, and Exploitation
Back in January, I first read about a group of celebrities who were imploring fans to stop reading magazines that use paparazzi-taken photos of their kids. The boycott points out our role in the harassment of people related to the celebrity; Kristen Bell states that if we stop buying these magazines, the demand for these photos will go away. Of course, the magazines won’t know if we’re not reading them for the baby photos, the insipidness of the articles, or the perfume samples they slip inside the pages. But still, as someone who is incredibly squeamish about overstepping lines, I’m in favour of Kristen Bell’s requests.
Image: US CPSC via Flickr
I like to think of my life like one of those divided plates where I’ve put myself in the largest protein portion, offering myself up for consumption. But the kids and Josh are like the separated out peas and carrots and corn. They’re right beside me, but they’re clearly not mixed in with me. It’s my decision if I want to give up some of my privacy. But it’s not my decision to make as to whether the twins give up their privacy. And it certainly isn’t my decision to give up someone else’s child’s privacy, hence why I am so wholly against people putting up pictures online without permission; and that includes class pictures, group shots of the sports team, or party photos.
Unless you’re cool having your privacy invaded, don’t invade someone else’s.
But I digress.
People magazine put up a statement yesterday about their use of celebrity children’s images in the magazine. They are moving toward only using posed photos from events or ones taken with permission. A step in the right direction though I’d caution all those celebrities releasing photos of their kids that their kids may not be thrilled to have that picture of them playing in the park in a national magazine.
But what gave me pause was a snarky little sentence in the middle of People’s statement:
And there’s always the tough balancing act we face when dealing with stars who exploit their children one day, and complain about loss of privacy the next.
Exploit their children? While there are celebrities and non-celebrities alike who make parenting decisions that I would never make, I can’t say that I can point to one celebrity who exploits their child. Can you? There are celebrities who sell baby photos of their children and donate the money to charity — such as Angelina Jolie. The reason usually given is that by providing the images, they hope to stave off paparazzi who are trying to steal an image by bothering them in public. Bring children to events? Sure — but is that exploitation? To me, exploitation is using a child for gain. And I’m not sure what is gained that wouldn’t be gained otherwise by attending an event without your child. Is the child being used to get the parent work? Money? Do I think some people see their children as accessories that they put on when they’re in the mood? Sure, I’m sure there are people out there like that. But that isn’t exploitation. That’s just crappy parenting.
Accusing someone of exploitation is a character assessment. And while I think there are child celebrities who are being exploited by their non-famous parent — pushed into privacy-stealing positions without being properly prepared for the pressure — and child celebrities who are being exploited by their celebrity parent a la the children of reality television shows that feature children on-air, I can’t think of a celebrity parent who is exploiting their non-celebrity child. It’s a fairly charged word. I’d be really curious if People magazine is privy to behaviour that shows clear exploitation from celebrities who are complaining about their child’s lack of privacy. I would be very curious to learn who they believe exploits (meaning; derive benefit from) their child AND complains about a lack of privacy.
What do you guys think of the boycott of paparazzi photos of celebrity kids? And can you name a celebrity that exploits their non-famous kid?