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The Expectation of Privacy, Celebrities, And The Paparazzi

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The expectation of privacy is not unreasonable. With that said, celebrities such as actors, musicians, politicians, and athletes live much of their life in the public eye. Their comings and goings are plastered all over newspapers, the television, social media, and tabloids worldwide. The recent news of divorce between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (Brangelina?) is a key example. Divorce is a extremely private issue for the average person, but in Hollywood, it's just another story. Should the same expectation of privacy apply to celebrities? Even though they have chosen the professions they have entered, does that mean that they deserve less privacy than those who are not so famous? The purpose of this sample essay from Ultius is to analyze the privacy of celebrities and why invasions of privacy from paparazzi can dangerous, or potentially deadly.

I am a public person and I have my private life. It's important for me that my private life stay private, that what I share with the people is my public personality.  

-Georges St-Pierre, UFC Fighter (BrainyQuote) 

Expectation of Privacy For the Average Citizen

It does not say anywhere that privacy excludes any member of society, including celebrities. When the average person thinks of privacy, it's usually in regards to our rights in relation to the government, and civil liberties in this post 9-11 world. Our privacy concerns usually don't include paparazzi making every personal detail public for the world to read. As Americans, we expect a certain level of privacy in our lives. It is not only an expectation of ours, but a right protected by the law. In fact, the U.S. Constitution explicitly states that the right to privacy is protected by the following Amendments:

  • The First Amendment protects the privacy of beliefs.
  • The Third Amendment protects the privacy of the home against the use of it for housing soldiers.
  • The Fourth Amendment protects privacy against unreasonable searches.
  • The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination, which in turn protects the privacy of personal information.
  • The Ninth Amendment says that the "enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people." This has been interpreted as justification for broadly reading the Bill of Rights to protect privacy in ways not specifically provided in the first eight amendments. (Sharp)

Early Celebrities: Before Paparazzi

Most people think of celebrities in a very modern sense. When we think of stardom, we usually think of our favorite singer, or actor mingling with other celebrities at some lavish party, or hanging out with politicians. The fact is, one of the first celebrities to ever exist lived in Ancient Greece. At one time, the famous were recorded for the ages in stone and in paint. Alexander the Great was the first famous person in a modern sense, contends Leo Braudy, Ph.D., professor of English at the University of Southern California and author of The Frenzy of Renown.

Not only did he want to be unique, but he wanted to tell everybody about it, and he had an apparatus for telling everybody about it. He had techniques for doing famous things. He had historians, painters, sculptors, gem carvers on his battles. (Neimark)

Back in those day, these nobles craved the attention of the spotlight. They wanted to be immortalized. It can only be speculated that invasion of privacy was not something that was a concern for them.

Expectation of Privacy of Modern Celebrities

Today, in the 21st century, the lives of celebrities and their feelings about their privacy has taken a much different turn. While they still crave media attention, high ratings, and droves of adoring fans, the invasion of privacy celebrities endure has gotten grossly out of hand. While some of us only tune into celebrity news in the event of an untimely death, or major media scandal, the general population develops an increasingly morbid addiction to their beloved stars. Celebrities pay for their fan's addictions to them with their own privacy, sometimes dearly. Thirty years ago the only real celebrities were in the movies. Now they're everywhere—radio hosts, lawyers, murderers, teenagers on youtube (Neimark). The development of certain media has also changed the way we view celebrities.

Paparazzi, Celebrities, and Modern Media

  • People Magazine was founded in 1974. It “focused entirely on the active personalities of our time”.
  • In the 90's, television has made it possible for us to see into the court rooms, view news 24-hours a day, and call up our favorite viewing pleasures on-demand.
  • Today, endless images, videos, and live updates are being created, posted and put out for all the world to see instantly via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. 
  • One of the most popular forms of television today are reality shows, which often offer a glimpse into the real everyday life of celebrities, major and minor.
  • Blogs like Gawker, that practice yellow journalism (Stories that aren't researched or vetted) are imensely popular. 

...celebrities are just like us, they're people with problems, and they drink too much or hit their wives or have bad relationships. Of course those are opposing beliefs, that they are just like us and nothing like us, but the illusion that we can get to know these people gives fuel to a lot of subsidiary enterprises in the media. (Neimark)

In regards to celebrities, this is where many feel they lost any reasonable right to privacy by our warped ideals of their careers. If one lives in the public spotlight, then nothing is off limits. What this really boils down to is the fact that we have far too much information about celebrities these days—their love affairs, their private conversations on cellular phones, the color of their underwear, how many nose jobs they've had, and how many intestinal polyps our presidents have had removed. (Neimark)

Expectation of Privacy Vs the Paparazzi

One of the main contributors to the invasion of privacy of celebrities are paparazzi.

Dictionary.com defines Paparazzi as: Freelance photographers, especially one who takes candid pictures of celebrities for publication.

They are the hard-core, people chasing, and story grabbing photographers. Paparazzi chase pictures of celebrities the way an award winning journalist chases a potential story. While some celebrities love posing for the cameras, there are others that despise them. Paparazzi often appear to be extremely pushy, and ignorant of one's personal space. To most paparazzi, no time in a celebrity's life is sacred-wither it's catching a quick bite to eat, or attending a funeral.  

It seems as though wherever there is a celebrity, a paparazzo is near. Their presence alone has caused countless safety issues, incited rage, and caused damaging consequences to the beloved personalities of this world, and to people of lesser perceived importance. Though there have been many precious, clandestine, and just plain good moments caught by the camera, mostly consensual, the damage done in regards to the privacy of celebrities has been, at times, has been catastrophic. We are going to go ahead and answer the question:

Should the Lives of the Rich and Famous Remain Private?

The remaining portions of this discussion will clearly explain why that answer is yes. The first story that should be discussed in relation to the devastating effects of celebrity privacy invasion was the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The crash, in August 1997, seized attention in Britain and around the world with rumors, conspiracy theories and allegations. Diana, who was 36 when she died, was described by Tony Blair, then the prime minister, as the “people’s princess.” Alan Cowell of the New York Times detailed the crash as follows:

A British police inquiry in 2006 found that Diana and Mr. Fayed had died in an accident as they sought to escape the attentions of the paparazzi camped outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris, owned by Mohamed al-Fayed, Dodi’s father. (Cowell)

The key lesson to be taken from this incident is that the paparazzi stopped at nothing to invade the privacy of Princess Diana as she traveled with her lover. Since that soul crushing, globally effective incident, many more situations have arisen concerning the paparazzi and their thirst for celebrity knowledge in regards to vehicle crashes. These incidences include: 

  • Country singer, LeAnn Rimes accelerated into another vehicle while trying to escape photographers in 2009.
  • Actress, January Jones crashed into two parked cars in June 2011 after being tailed by two paparazzi.
  • Tori Spelling, another actress, crashed into a wall of her children’s school while attempting to avoid photographers that same month
  • Actress, Lindsay Lohan collided with a truck in order to lose tailing cameramen. (Glinow)

Private Lives of The Rich and Famous Invaded By Media Giants

In addition to the vehicle crashes reported, there have also many other breaches to the privacy of celebrities that were completely uncalled for. There was a particular issue regarding the extraction of personal information of some very famous people by a “network of private investigators working for news organizations” writes Nick Davies of The Guardian. These investigators were caught repeatedly breaking data protection laws. Newscorp's (Fox News, News of the World) hacking scandal commissioned the network to obtain personal information from social security records, the police national computer, British Telecom and mobile phone companies. They also made deals with hotels, banks, prisons, trade unions and the post office into handing over sensitive information. (Davies). Ultimately, this lead to the head of Newscorp, Roger Murdoch to step down as chairman, and end the 168-year run of News of the World (NoW), a newspaper owned by Murdoch.

CNN published a timeline highlighting the Newscorp scandal. Some notible events included:

  • November 2005 - British tabloid News of the World (NoW) prints a story about Prince William injuring his knee, prompting royal officials to complain to the police of probable voicemail hacking.
  • August 2006 - Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire are arrested for illegal phone hacking.
  • March 2010 - Celebrity public relations agent Max Clifford agrees to drop his lawsuit against the NoW for a payment of more than £1 million.
  • January 26, 2011 - British Metropolitan Police launch a new investigation into voicemail hacking allegations at NoW.
  • February 25, 2011 - The High Court orders Glenn Mulcaire to reveal who asked him to hack phones.
  • July 4, 2011 - It is revealed that NoW journalists possibly hacked into missing teenager Milly Dowler's voicemail in 2002 and deleted messages to free space, causing her parents to believe she was still alive.
  • July 7, 2011 - News International announces that the July 10 Sunday edition of News of the World will be the paper's last.
  • July 10, 2011 - The tabloid shuts down, issuing a full-page apology for the hacking scandal on page three. The cover says, "Thank You & Goodbye."
  • July 14, 2011 - The FBI launches an investigation into the allegations that News Corp. employees or associates hacked into phones of 9/11 victims.
  • July 16 2011 - Rupert Murdoch issues apology for phone hacking via full page ads in seven national newspapers.
  • July 19, 2011 - Rupert Murdoch, son James Murdoch, and former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks testify before Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
  • September 14, 2011 - Dozens of celebrities, including Hugh Grant and J.K. Rowling, are given permission to participate in a top-level inquiry into phone hacking by British journalists.
  • October 21, 2011 - News International, publisher of the former News of the World newspaper, agrees to pay £2 million -- about U.S. $3.2 million -- to the family of Milly Dowler. Also, Rupert Murdoch will pay £1 million -- about U.S. $1.6 million -- to charities chosen by the Dowler family..
  • November 24, 2011 - Celebrities Sienna Miller, Max Mosley and J.K. Rowling testify before the Leveson Inquiry.
  • December 20, 2011 - CNN host Piers Morgan, former editor of both the News of the World and Daily Mirror, testifies regarding his exact knowledge of the phone hacking scandal involving Paul McCartney and Heather Mills..
  • January 31, 2014 - Actress Sienna Miller testifies regarding an alleged affair with Daniel Craig, which is exposed by a tabloid journalist who hacked Craig's voice mail.

Major Players in the Celebrity Hacking Scandal

  • Rupert Murdoch - Australian-born founder and CEO of News Corporation Ltd., the parent company of News International. News International owns the Sun, the Times and the Sunday Times in the UK. Murdoch's holdings also include Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Harper Collins.
  • Rebekah Brooks - Former Chief Executive of News International, editor of the News of the World at the time that the alleged hackings occurred. Brooks resigned on July 15, 2011.
  • Andy Coulson - Most recently David Cameron's communications chief and former editor of NoW, resigned after the 2007 conviction of Goodman and Mulcaire but claimed not to know about hacking.
  • Clive Goodman - Former NoW's royal editor, jailed for four months after being convicted of conspiracy to intercept phone messages.
  • Glenn Mulcaire - Private investigator jailed for six months after being convicted of conspiracy to intercept phone messages.
  • Hugh Grant - Actor and hacking victim, calls for comprehensive inquiry into tabloid journalism in Britain.


In conclusion, the main point of this argumentative essay is privacy is a right. It is not a luxury. If you have to write your own argumentative essay, save some time and consider purchasing a sample essay from the pros at Ultius like this one to use as a reference. Privacy should not be limited to ordinary citizens, but also to celebrities as well. It may be even more crucial that privacy rights be respected. Deaths have occurred and government information breached due to society’s overwhelming curiosity with the world’s celebrities. The private lives of celebrities should be kept private. 

Works Cited

BrainyQuote. "Private Life Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/private_life.html

Cowell, Alan. "Negligent Driving Killed Diana, Jury Finds." The New York Times. The New York Times, 2008. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. 

Davies, Nick. "How Private Lives of Famous Were Invaded." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 2009. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. 

Dictionary.com. "The Definition of Paparazzi." Dictionary.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. 

Neimark, Jill. "The Culture of Celebrity." Psychology Today. N.p., 1995. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199505/the-culture-celebrity

Sharp, Tim. "Right to Privacy: Constitutional Rights & Privacy Laws." LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 2013. Web. 05 Sept. 2016. https://www.livescience.com/37398-right-to-privacy.html

CNN.com "UK Phone Hacking Scandal Fast Facts". CNN Library. Web. 24 Apr. 2016

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