Confession time: Every now and again, I like to get down and roll in the dirt with the gossip blogs about Hollywood stars and scandals. It’s wickedly voyeuristic and just plain fascinating for any number of reasons.
The stars of Hollywood seem to live such totally different lives from mine – so far removed from the mindless nine-to-five, just to begin. Then there’s the clothes and shoes and numerous black tie events they always seem to be attending, along with the hot and cold running limousines and champagne.
I’m quite, quite sure the reality is different. I’ve done enough research to know that being or aspiring to be an A-List actor requires a team of people and an investment of serious money, along with sponsors that include a make-up company, a fashion house that will supply the gowns for all the events, and a jewellery house. A dedicated personal trainer and dietician aren’t luxuries, they’re essentials, and a chef is an investment, not a perk.
And that’s before the casting call.
Then there’s the paparazzi.
Hollywood has a love-hate relationship with these professional freelance photographers. So do most professional athletes and any high profile public figure.
The name paparazzi was coined by the Italian director Frederico Fellini, who called the news photographer character in his film La Dolce Vita ‘Paparazzo’, which is the annoying sound of a buzzing mosquito. The idea of snapping photographs of stars out in public began in Italy in the 1950s, and the name “Papparazzo” for a single photographer stuck. Paparazzi is the plural.
While most laws in most countries do not prevent photographers from taking photographs of public figure in public places, and then selling those photos for profit, which is how the paparazzi earn their living, the getting of those photos is often the source of mild annoyance to extreme vexation for the stars who are the subject of the ‘hunt’.
There is certainly no privacy for the subjects at all. There have been images of starlets with their legs spread as they climb out of cars – sans underwear – and pictures of stars shaving their heads; couples arguing in public and far more. The question is always…when is enough enough?
After the death of Diana, the former Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed, after being chased by paparazzi through the streets of Paris, there was an investigation and a series of legislations passed that further limited the activities of the paparazzi, preventing them from chasing public figures by car, etc.
Very popular stars, such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, will arrange decoys and mislead the paparazzi with false intelligence in order to leave their houses unmolested, while upcoming and new stars will court the “pap” and let themselves be photographed deliberately in order to gain more coverage.
But public figures by virtue of the fact that they are “public figures” have less expectations to privacy than the average private citizen. In most countries a public figure is a legal definition, and their rights to privacy are also defined…and considerably less than you and I get to enjoy. While many stars have sued the paparazzi for breaches and won, there are many more who have had to put up with the invasions and stalkings all so we can flip over to the blogs on a daily basis to see their images and marvel over the utterly different lifestyle they get to “enjoy”.
It was this sort of hounding that I introduced in Blood Stone, along with the idea that Kate, a Hollywood figure, was trying to keep her life private.