Public Eye  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , , ,

I was standing in the checkout line at Stop & Shop today, which happened to be quite long, and as I waited, I glanced over at the racks containing magazines. All it took was one minute for me to know who is divorcing, who is splitting up, who is saying what, and who is going where. In that one minute, I was filled in on all the things going on in the celebrity world -- all of their personal matters, all of the details of their daily lives, and all of the things I am sure they would rather not have the public know.

In one of my recent posts, "It's Personal," I started writing about how we tend to intrude a lot on other people's privacy. Things that should remain personal end up being public, and the details of an individual's life become a topic of interest for everyone else.

Not one of us experiences this to the same degree that celebrities and other public figures do. The media loves to analyze their every move, their every choice, their every word. Although their job is to act, to sing, to dance, to perform, or do whatever else it is they have a talent for, the media and the public assume that it is perfectly fine to invade their privacy when they are trying to live their lives. There should be a separation between a person's career and talent and the person's private life. Paparazzi hanging out in bushes and on front lawns is just wrong on so many levels, and yet the public appreciates it. A celebrity goes out in the morning to buy a coffee or goes to the gym in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and all of a sudden, there is a full-page picture of it in a magazine, just in case anyone was wondering what he or she was doing. Their families can barely go outside without being swarmed by paparazzi and reporters too. Some of their children are unable to live normal lives because the media does not know its boundaries and does not know how to respect people's privacy.

And then there is the speculation.... If there is anything worse than paparazzi shots and personal details glaring out at you from the cover of a magazine, it is the tabloid magazines everywhere.

Here is what one website said about tabloids:

Traditionally, certain tabloids are distinguished by sensationalism of approach and content rather than by straightforward reportage of newsworthy events.


If you were to count the amount of complete lies in those rags, you would probably not only have to use all your fingers and toes, but you would have to borrow someone else's fingers too.
So this goes beyond just the invasion of privacy -- this goes into the malicious lying territory.

Reality television is another issue. When people allow cameras into their daily private lives, it is bound to have a negative effect -- especially when these people are married. I can think of three celebrity couples who have split up after having their lives shown to millions of viewers on their reality shoes. I suppose that even without the reality shows, they would eventually split up and divorce, but the shows definitely did nothing to help their relationships and marriages.

Posthumous publishing is another example of an invasion of privacy. When an individual writes something, be it a private journal or a work of fiction, and specifically chooses not to release it to the public, what right do others have to publish them after the person's death? If these writers did not want their thoughts and ideas to be published, is it really right to go against that and reveal them to the entire world, for all future generations?

But although posthumous publishing is a breach of privacy, it is also a great addition to the literary world. We have so many great, classic works of literature that would have never seen the light of day if someone had not decided to publish them after the writer's death. There are many people we would not have even heard of if their wishes were respected, and that would have been a great loss. For instance, most of what we know of Emily Dickinson today is because her family found her poems after her death and released them to the public.

Time actually has an interesting article about this, which lists some posthumously published works of literature.

Also, after Beethoven became deaf, he used conversation books to communicate with people. After his death, most of those books were destroyed, which prevented us from getting a personal glimpse into this famed composer's life. Only imagine how much we could have known about him! Dozens of books filled with things he wanted to say, in his own handwriting. And all that information has been deliberately destroyed to protect his privacy.

So should it be 'all for the sake of literature' or should individual privacy be more important when it comes to writings?

I sometimes wonder what I will do with my all my writing. I cannot begin to count the amount of notebooks, binders, and papers I have, full of accounts of my personal life, fictional stories, poems, and so on. I would not want anyone reading it unless I felt I wanted to share some things.

You never know what will happen after your lifetime. Anything you create or record can take on a life of its own.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 17, 2009 at Friday, July 17, 2009 and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

Well, the whole point of being a celebrity is being in the public eye. Where do you think the saying "there is no such a thing as bad publicity" came from? These people want to be in public eye. They eye these things and they want everyone to talk about them. In the end more people want to watch/listen to them, which equals to more money in royalty. I used to work of Harry Fox. That's an organization which sells licenses for rights of playing a song or a movie clip. So, everytime, you see a clip from MJ vidio, MJ makes money. Everytime they use MJ song in a movie or a reality show, MJ makes money. In otherwords, these people want everyone to talk about them because that makes them money.

Now, you were talking about Paparazzis. These are the people who cross the line between we want everyone to know this and we don't want everyone to know that. Where is that line? No one really knows.

And lies in those rags are often initiated by either celebrities or their agents. So, although they are lies, there is a profit to be made.

The relationships you are reading about are many times staged too. So, these people "date" and "marry" and "divorce" all for the sake of sensation. Why do you think no one bought MJ and Presely marriage?

July 19, 2009 at 9:35 PM

"These people want to be in public eye." -- To some degree, everyone wants to be known for his/her work or talent. But people often make the mistaken assumption that being in the public eye is fun: "Oh, look, people know my name and recognize me! I am someone! People are interested in me; they love me!" When I was younger, I also used to think (quite foolishly) that it would be such fun to be a celebrity. It is such an ego-boost to have people calling your name everywhere you turn, wanting to snap a picture of you. I am sure that many of these celebrities still want to be in the public eye, and want to be on the covers of those magazines, even if it means their privacy is invaded on a regular basis. But there are also some people who were, so to speak, thrust into stardom, and no matter how much they later tried to escape it, they could not.

Since you mentioned MJ, I will use him as an example. After the trials and the acquittal, he tried to escape the spotlight, retreat, and live his own life. But at that point, it was impossible. He simply could not go outside (even in countries outside the US) because he would immediately be swarmed by fans, paparazzi and reporters. He made a desperate attempt to shield his children from the whole media circus by hiding their faces (but that made people even more determined to see them).

"So, everytime, you see a clip from MJ vidio, MJ makes money. Everytime they use MJ song in a movie or a reality show, MJ makes money." -- Oh, I am sure that was a great comfort to him everytime he walked out of his house and got mobbed or nearly stampeded. I am sure that, as he tried taking his kids to the zoo as a normal dad would and his kids were nearly trampled by paparazzi who did not know their bounds, he felt better by knowing that somewhere, a person was showing a short clip of 'Thriller' on some television program.

"Where is that line? No one really knows." -- You're right... and that is what is sad about this thing. It does not seem as if there really are boundaries these days, so nobody knows what crossing the line means.

"And lies in those rags are often initiated by either celebrities or their agents." -- I don't doubt that there are celebrities who do this, but on the other hand, there are many celebrities who, along with their agents, have to work hard afterward to counteract the damage caused by these tabloids. Slander and gossip might be good for their business, but there are some to whom it is truly hurtful.

"Why do you think no one bought MJ and Presely marriage?" -- I wouldn't say 'no one.' What's so ironic about the thing is that Lisa Marie Presley seemed infatuated with him at first. She was a delusional little girl who thought she could 'save him' through her love. So I would not say the marriage was a complete sham.

But what would you say then of posthumous literature? After all, those authors did not seek to be in the public eye.

July 19, 2009 at 10:46 PM

I totally disagree with you, had MJ wanted to be left alone he would have disappeared into oblivion. He chose, as an adult to continously perform, he chose to stay in the spot light and thus he chose to be "harrased" by media.

There were many performers who chose to disappeared and they did. Sindy Lauper (Girls just wanna have fun)is someone who comes to mind. She had three hit songs in one year, made millions of dollars and decided that it was all too much. So, she retired. She invested her millions and lives comfortably off these investments and royalties.

As far as posthumous literature I am of two opinions.

One - it was an unfinished work, and people are so in love with a story or author that they prefer a half finished story to no story at all. Second Gone with the Wind book is a perfect example. She planned on finishing the book, but never succeeded. So, we as readers were able to glimpse a bit more of her in that second book.

Two - if it was private diary or something similar than I think it should stay private for at least 75 years after death. Then and only then it could be released to the public as a historical document. Why wait? Because anything private or embarresing is no longer relevant as time goes on.

July 20, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Very interesting article and I appreciate you bringing this subject up. I've worked in security in Hollywood for many years. The urban legends of arranged marriages and such are rarely true. Yes, sometimes the publicists plant stories or call the paparazzi themselves, but usually for newer artists. And in the end, they have that choice. But it in no way means that same artist should not be able to have their privacy too. The "can't have your cake and eat it too" view of this doesn't apply. The paparazzi make their money off the celebrities. Yes, to a small degree the celebrity needs the paparazzi. But in the end, they should also have a right to say "that's enough" and be able to walk down the street unmolested.

I became so disgusted with the paparazzi over the years I put together a non-profit to bring reform to the industry. www.paparazzi-reform.org.

Thanks again for expressing your opinion.

July 21, 2009 at 11:41 AM

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