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Paparazzi Down: George Clooney's Anti-Paparazzi Laws Just Might Save Civilization

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On Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw cheekily declared, "Clooney is like a Chanel suit: He'll always be in style." The doyenne of cosmopolitans and everything fabulous was right: The Monuments Men actor can do no wrong -- at least in the looks department. But did he make a fashion faux pas when he persuaded the mayor of Laglio, Italy, to draft anti-paparazzi laws just in time for his nuptials to fiancée Amal Alamuddin?

Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney are two peas in an anti-paparazzi pod. In 2002 the savvy SJP stood outside a hospital with her husband, Matthew Broderick, and their newborn son for a universal photo op to devalue the images taken by the paparazzi of little James Wilkie Broderick.

The ageless Clooney, who owns a villa in Laglio, on Lake Como, has used a different tactic to ward off intrusive photographers when his betrothed, a barrister specializing in international law, walks down the aisle later this summer in Italy.

The Oscar-winning actor, director, and screenwriter secured two new protection orders that prevent paparazzi from getting close to his residence ahead of his planned wedding to human-rights advocate Alamuddin. The edicts prohibit anyone from stopping on both the road outside his villa and the water directly in front of his majestic mansion, 24 hours a day. The restrictions will remain in place until Sept. 30.

George Clooney obtained these anti-paparazzi laws in the same country where freelance photojournalists were once immortalized in Federico Fellini's internationally popular film La Dolce Vita. Do not be under any illusion that the glamorous paparazzi of the 1960s exist today. A select subset of lensmen admit that the profession has changed dramatically in the past five years, with more aggressive, untrained photographers dedicated to pursuing the stars without regard to safety, security, or privacy.

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, they are not always the right ones. Some shutterbugs contend that they are part of a legitimate newsgathering force whose activities will be swept up by laws that limit their access to public figures. The inherent problem with this argument is that the paparazzi commit serious crimes in the pursuit of so-called newsgathering, including trespassing, assault, and false imprisonment, which happens when a person or the vehicle they are driving is being prevented from freedom of movement.

Though I vehemently disagree with Kanye West's recent characterization of being followed by paparazzi as akin to being the victim of sexual assault, First Amendment jurisprudence will not legitimize inappropriate conduct by the paps in the name of news reporting.

Moreover, the notion that the paparazzi have a symbiotic, not parasitic, relationship with VIPs is offensive to most people's intelligence. Granted, some D-list celebs cultivate alliances with the paparazzi for press and money, but do you think actress Lupita Nyong'o, musician Blake Shelton, model Gisele Bündchen, or tennis pro Serena Williams would not be in high demand but for the generosity of the paparazzi? The entertainment industry needs the paparazzi like charities need Bernie Madoff.

My predilection for keeping the sanctity of stars' privacy is based on the idea that actors, artists, musicians, and media personalities should not have to give up their privacy rights to engage in the vocation they love, and one that keeps many of us endlessly entertained.

The gripe I have with the paparazzi is unrelated to my soft spot for uber-wealthy celebs who just want to live "normal lives." Most of us can agree that the anonymity ship has sailed for those who have a follicle full of talent.

I simply fail to see the significance of chasing down those in the public eye for the sake of taking a picture of a high-profile ingenue leaving a store on Melrose or a lauded director playing soccer with his kids. If the paparazzi exist to alert us when Kim Kardashian passes through LAX, we are indeed a troubled civilization that can only be saved with the passage of meaningful anti-paparazzi laws that have killer whale teeth.