Blake Lively is right; we need to reassess our entitlement to celebrities’ private lives
In a world where celebrities have to beat paparazzi to the punch in sharing important milestones in their personal lives, we really need to reexamine our entitlement to private information.
Earlier this week, Blake Lively revealed to her 35.7 million-strong Instagram following that she and her husband Ryan Reynolds are expecting their fourth child with a beautiful carousel of images that show the actress lounging by the pool, embracing with friends and family, and proudly baring her bump. However, the incredibly joyous event was somewhat mired by the men lurking outside Lively’s abode, brandishing cameras as they waited in the wings to snap the first paparazzi shot.
Having stepped out last week in a gold sequinned dress for the 10th Annual Forbes Power Women’s Summit, Lively’s bump was quickly noticed and the paps made their way to her place of residence — en masse and uninvited. In order to preempt their ability to take the power of announcing her pregnancy away from her, Lively took to social media to call out the reality of the situation.
“Here are photos of me pregnant in real life so the 11 guys waiting outside my home for a [unicorn] sighting will leave me alone,” Lively wrote. “You freak me and my kids out.” She went on to thank those who have shown love and respect, and directed her praise at those who continue to unfollow accounts and publications that share photographs of children.
“You have all the power against them. And thank you to the media who have a ‘No Kids Policy’. You all make all the difference,” she concluded. While she’s being rightfully lauded for stealing their scoop, it all just feels so incredibly bizarre. If we hadn’t already done it before, now is definitely the time to reassess the entitlement we feel towards the private information of the rich and famous.
Minors in the media
Blake Lively and her husband Ryan Reynolds have been speaking out against paparazzi taking photographs of children without permission for quite some time now. Last year, the actress called out ‘deceitful’ coverage from paps who ‘stalk children’ in the comment section of Daily Mail Australia.
Lively accused the media outlet of editing photographs together in a way that made it look like she was happy to pose for the camera, but “the real story is: My children were being stalked by a man all day. Jumping out. And then hiding. A stranger on the street got into words with them because it was so upsetting for her to see,” she wrote. “When I tried to calmly approach the photographer you hired to take these pictures in order to speak to him, he would run away. And jump out again at the next block.”
She asked if background checks are carried out on photographers, questioned the morality of the practice, and branded the whole experience as “f*cking scary”. Lively understood that the outlet was catering to demand, and urged audiences to make it clear that “photos of children obtained by men frightening and stalking them” are not what they want to see when scrolling online.
Gigi Hadid is among the many other celebrity mothers who have spoken out against paparazzi photographing her children. Sharing an impassioned plea to her online following, the model addressed paparazzi, press and fan accounts as she requested that her privacy be rightly respected.
The letter begins, “As our baby grows up we have to realise that we can’t protect her from everything the way we want to and could when she was smaller. She loves seeing the world! And although she gets a lot of that out near the farm, she also gets to experience other places – a true blessing.”
“I write all this to say: to the Paparazzi, press, and beloved fan accounts, you know we have never intentionally shared our daughters’ face on social media. Our wish is that she can choose how to share herself with the world when she comes of age, and that she can live as normal of a childhood as possible, without worrying about a public image that she has not chosen.
“It would mean the world to us, as we take our daughter to see and explore NYC and the world, if you would PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE blur her face out of the images, if and when she is caught on camera.”
From George Clooney’s open letter to the Daily Mail asking that they avoid publishing photos of his children because his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, fights terrorist groups, and therefore the running of imagery of their children would effectively put their lives in danger to Jennifer Garner being forced to remind the media that her children are private citizens, parents have been airing their grievances with paparazzi for years — but it seems like they’re screaming into the void.
Why is it so hard for publications to respect that I would like the identity of my child kept private for safety reasons? Pls honor that.
— ashton kutcher (@aplusk) May 19, 2015
Let’s call a spade a spade here — paparazzi standing watch outside your home, waiting it out until you eventually have to leave so that they can get their shot is nothing short of surveillance. This somewhat dystopian fascination and parasocial relationship we have with the rich and the famous is something we need to regularly check ourselves for.
All too often, people write off these incidents as just deserts for living life in the glare of the media — but putting yourself in the public eye should not put both yourself and your family in the firing line. We have to continue to remind ourselves that a well-known face is not a well-known story, and we are not privy to every detail of their private lives.