Saturday, 21 April 2007

Paparazzi no thanks

It must be a relief to Northern Ireland's celebrities not to be ruthlessly pursued at all hours of the day and night by totally immoral paparazzi itching for a salacious shot of X in her underwear or Y snorting cocaine.

This predatory media stalking, so routine on the Other Island, simply doesn't happen here. Famous names can just get on with their everyday lives, doing the shopping, taking the kids to school, sunbathing in the garden, and the snappers simply aren't interested.

That's because we regard their private lives as their own business and nothing to do with us. Why do we need to know that presenter A is cheating on her husband? Or that model B likes kinky sex? It's their work we're concerned with, and the rest is strictly off limits.

Furthermore, there just isn't the gulf between the famous and the non-famous that exists elsewhere. Here the famous aren't remote, inaccessible figures living in a world of their own and seen as fair game for constant prying and snooping. In a small society like ours, they're just one of us and entitled to the same dignity and respect.

Also we put a much greater emphasis on the family and family values, and we don't approve of any behaviour that undermines the sanctity of the family and its independence. Photographers lurking behind the garage would be as welcome as the bailiffs or a passing paedophile.

Then again, we take the attitude that if other people are going through difficult personal problems, they need some space to work through them in their own time and in their own way without prurient outsiders poking their nose in and making the problem worse.

We don't share this malicious English tendency to kick someone when they're down, to sneer at their bad luck and try to finish them off completely. No, we love our celebrities, we're proud of them, and we protect them fiercely from unsavoury attentions. The likes of Donna Traynor and Noel Thompson* are national treasures and not to be trifled with by common oiks.

* the presenters of BBC News Northern Ireland


  1. Wow interesting post, and one that’s right in my domain of work. Whereas I should go with the flow and except that we Norn Ironers are all marvellous, I can’t help but feel that you’re being a little too generous with our equal obsession with all things celebrities. So what separates us from the UK and gives us paparazzi freedom? It’s probably a mixture of facts:
    1. We don’t have a big enough media market to make the paparazzi economically viable because,
    2. There aren’t many celebrities living here that have currency in the media
    3. Those celebrities who do live here generally don’t fit into the 18-28 year old bracket that appeals to the editors of the picture desks.

    As soon as Belfast becomes the new mecca for limelight weary stars I’m sure the trend will be reversed.

  2. Hmmm, food for thought indeed, but I'm still not sure the media keep their distance simply because our celebrities are not young enough or sensational enough. The media are pretty ruthless at satisfying their readership, and if they thought scurrilous, titillating photos were what their public wanted, I'm sure they'd be out there with their telephoto lenses in the twinkling of an eye.

  3. I tend to agree with mcgrathy, Nick. I'd love to share your faith though!

    Paparazzi photographers are - without exception - the scum of the earth. Their only function is to harass people who have had the audacity to want to act, sing or otherwise please large numbers of people, and to help with the wholesale trivialisation of news, culture and life generally.

    Hugh Grant attacks photographer with tub of beans shock! Is there anyone, anywhere, who isn't cheering him on and wishing he had used a family sized can instead?

  4. I certainly agree with your opinion re harassment and trivialisation, John. And yes, I'm right behind Hugh Grant and I wish more celebs would do the same - why do they tolerate these vermin?