Ethnographic photographers have claimed in the past that folks from some rural African communities told them they regarded photos as a way of “stealing parts of their souls”. This notion could come across as extreme, but on another level, there is something ghoulish about the inclination of paparazzi to test boundaries by taking snaps of people who happen to be well known, without gaining their permission.
Opinions have been expressed about situations where people have become famous through publicly funded institutions and the obligations that they are expected to have, to share moments of privacy with anyone who cares to know about them. Perhaps it is easier to be an observer than to be the subject of observation.
It has also been suggested that folks in the public eye only become as emotionally mature as they were at the point that they became fair game for this sort of documentation. Whether this is true or not is difficult to ascertain, since there are only a few that are able to step on and off the conveyor belt of notoriety as and when they please.
Perhaps there needs to be some reassessment of the extent to which the public has a right to scrutinise the lives of anyone, for any reason. On one hand, many of us dream of having exposure for our work. We have been brought up to believe that it is desirable to be rich and famous.
What roles do education and law have to play in spelling out the pros and cons of the unsigned pacts between those who are subjected to mass media exposure and those who watch on the sidelines?