Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Hi. I’m writing this for the Next Contestant, my political blog, because it’s about a law we need to pass, a federal law. No, it has nothing to do with the Fiscal Cliff or other big headline topic. It’s about rights of privacy, for all us, but for celebrities in particular.
Anne Hathaway was on the Today Show this morning promoting the movie “Les Misérables” in which she is starring. Matt Lauer was conducting the interview and asked her about a recent wardrobe malfunction. It was a question to which Ms. Hathaway’s response, as you can see in the Today Show video, was both intelligent and eloquent. (There’s an opening commercial, of course. The portion of the interview I’m talking about begins at the 50 second mark.)
No, I didn’t go immediately on-line to see which of Ms. Hathaway’s body parts, that she obviously intended to keep private, had been publically exposed. Anne Hathaway is an extremely talented actress, and singer as it turns out, a class act in every respect whose performance in various movies I’ve enjoyed. I thought she deserved better than to have one more guy, or girl, leering at her.
I don’t think the paparazzi have the unfettered right to sell, nor do the media have an unequivocal right to publish anything they want. That’s what I think, but I admit to being a bit conflicted. Celebrities, like Ms. Hathaway, have voluntarily pursued careers that are, by their very nature, public. Ms. Hathaway has exposed herself, on more than one occasion, in some of the movies she’s made and from which she has profited handsomely. However artistic her various R-rated scenes, those are still her body parts out there on the big screen. To be intentionally crass, she’s exposing herself and getting paid for it. As for the occasional wardrobe malfunction, one could argue that it’s all about publicity, exposure in the media that enhances the public awareness based on which Ms. Hathaway makes a very good living.
It is, however, one thing to chose to appear nude, while it’s another thing altogether to have your unintended, embarrassing moments publicized. And it makes no difference whether we’re seeing more of a beautiful woman than we should have, or someone out for the evening or at a grocery store, not looking or behaving at his or her best. Either way, the issue is privacy, of privacy in a time when everyone with a smartphone is a miniature studio and millions of potential viewers only the press of a virtual button away.
I have a solution. I’m no lawyer, but I believe this is an issue of “intellectual property.” I want Congress to pass a law, “Anne’s Law” to make it personal, that formally makes photographs, videos and audio of bona fide, registered celebrities their personal property, not to be sold or reproduced for profit or other gain without their prior, written permission. And that will be that for the paparazzi and tabloid business that exploits people at their worst, most embarrassing moments, that disrupts their personal lives in ways that no career choice should ever justify.
Is anyone in the House or Senate paying attention?