People in the public eye deserve more respect
It’s time to step up our protests against intrusive pictures of public people in their private moments.
This week we have seen two examples of shameful media intrusion and outright hypocrisy.
The first is the publication of pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge’s royal baby bump, revealed while she was wearing a bikini on a private holiday.
As I’ve written before, we must ensure that we give Kate, and her husband Prince William, enough privacy to enable them to stay sane amid unprecedented global scrutiny.
Given that they are both more than adequately fulfilling their public roles, I think it’s time to give them a little more privacy off-duty.
There is a difference, I think, between snapping them walking along a public road while shopping, and hunting them down on a private island with a lens longer than an arm.
But it’s the hypocrisy that has accompanied the publication of the pictures that really annoys me.
Who, for instance, covered the story this week with the headline: “Leave Kate Alone! The expectant royal couple’s privacy plea is ignored as new photo scandal breaks”.
And yet the Who story reproduces the cover of Star magazine, clearly showing the bikini baby-bump pics, as well as the cover of Chi magazine showing the naked Duchess shots from earlier in the year.
Who notes that the publication of the naked shots promoted a “global furore” and caused “humiliation to Kate”, but yet it is happy to prominently display the very same photos – albeit pixelated of course.
Just wait for next week when Woman’s Day, which is understood to have paid $150,000 for the full set of bikini baby bump pics, hits the news
The same hypocrisy is shown in Woman’s Day’s treatment of the photos of radio and TV host Chrissie Swan.
Swan, who is pregnant with her third child, was snapped taking a drag on a cigarette in her car outside work by a paparazzo.
Woman’s Day outbid Swan’s managers and bought the pics for $53,000, and then nastily put one on their cover with the headline: “Chrissie Swan: The photos that saved my life”.
A beaming pregnant Swan is pictured next to the shots of her smoking in the car, giving the very misleading impression that she has consented to the story and is grateful to the magazine. What total rot.
Swan has admitted that the taking of the photos has ultimately been beneficial because after the furore the last thing she feels like is a cigarette.
But the job was done in the taking of the photos: the publication of them clearly has caused her additional shame, hurt and humiliation.
Sure, she wouldn’t be in this position if she didn’t smoke while pregnant in the first place, but it’s really no one’s business but her own.
However, the hypocrisy doesn’t end there: Channel Ten is also to blame for taking advantage of one of its biggest stars.
First, they wheeled her out to do a humiliating mea culpa interview on The 7PM Project about the topic – which I am sure was the last thing she felt like doing in the circumstances.
They then used clips of Swan crying to promote the new season of her late night talk show Can of Worms.
(Interestingly, it didn’t work, with the return of the show rating just 351,000 capital city viewers nationally.)
Swan is a rare television and radio talent, happy to admit her own failings in the public eye, but instead of protecting their star, Channel Ten exploited her.
Now, we all know smoking while pregnant can be hugely harmful to a baby – but so is the kind of acute stress that this entire episode would have caused Swan and her family.
We need to start asking where the public interest is in these kinds of degrading, intrusive photos.
I think it’s time to allow people in the public eye a little more self-respect in their private daily lives – particularly those who do nothing to court this kind of attention.
Ironically, those who are more private are often subjected to additional unwanted scrutiny.
As I wrote recently, people like Nicole Kidman have paid a price for failing to open up about key parts of their private lives.
I know it’s often hard to draw the line between public and private: shotslook as if they are gross invasions of privacy are often cosy orchestrated deals between celebrity and photographer.
But there are a few give-aways: are they pictured in glamorous matching outfits, perfect bodies and designer swimwear? Does the glossy photo spread come with exclusive quotes from those pictured? Are they trying to sell something?
I also think it’s not enough to blame the photographers.
Let’s also blame the people who spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year buying the magazines that provide a market for such pictures.
I’m not saying we should just leave celebrities alone totally, but allowing them to have a bit more dignity wouldn’t be a bad thing for all of us.
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