Paparazzi Panic

I never saw Panic Room, so I never knew that Jodie Foster had formed a friendship with Kristen Stewart, who was only eleven while acting in that film. In her Daily Beast OpEd, Foster tries to defend Stewart against the very ugly media scrutiny:

We’ve all seen the headlines at the check-out counter. “Kristen Stewart Caught.” We’ve all thumbed the glossy pages here and there. “Kris and Rob a couple?” We all catch the snaps. “I like that dress. I hate the hair. Cute couple. Bad shoes.” There’s no guilt in acknowledging the human interest in public linens. It’s as old as the hills. Lift up beautiful young people like gods and then pull them down to earth to gaze at their seams. See, they’re just like us. But we seldom consider the childhoods we unknowingly destroy in the process.

I’ve ignored the Robert Pattinson/ Kristin Stewart romance because, first, I didn’t care, and second, I didn’t believe it. Pattinson was likeable as Cedric Diggory in HP and the Goblet of Fire, and I thought he played the troubled vampire in the first Twilight film (which was really a teen romance followed by an action flick) about as well as could be done. In 2007’s In the Land of Women, Stewart was believable as a troubled teen, but didn’t show a lot of emotion. As Bella, she was a bit withdrawn, too. Her emotional distance might be intentional and might be part of what her fans find attractive, but I find it disconcerting. When I heard Pattinson and Stewart were linked romantically, I chalked it up to nothing more than studio promotion. If Pattinson was gay, a manufactured relationship would protect his sex appeal. Even if Pattinson was not gay, a putative romance would generate more interest in the Twilight  franchise.

So when we were told that Stewart has been seeing a married man, I was not that surprised and I still didn’t care. Foster makes an impassioned plea for some privacy, some regard, but I suspect that Jodie is only adding fuel to the fire, and that I am doing the same myself. There are counter-arguments about whether celebrities who crave media attention deserve any privacy at all, but I think the only way to give them privacy is to watch their films, if they are any good, while truly ignoring the rumor mill.

In the provocatively titled Slate blog, What Women Really Think, Alyssa Rosenberg writes:

Unlike most things we call guilty pleasures, gossip rags are something it’s actually possible to feel bad about consuming: we know that the paparazzi are invasive, that the bodysnarking these magazines feature put real pressure on real women, that paying for stories and access does not do anything to enhance journalistic ethics. I wouldn’t be in favor of importing the stringent press laws that give celebrities more ground to sue tabloids in the United Kingdom, but opposing legislation to regulate the tabloids doesn’t make them virtuous.

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