July 29, 2021

Two Me, Amanda Bynes y la ética de los paparazzi

Curled up in bed, watching a viral YouTube documentary on the life of Amanda Bynes, I was horrified. Horrified by the unattainable standards of the entertainment industry, by the attitude of its protectors to get money and, most importantly, by the paparazzi treatment of a mentally unstable young woman. As Bynes went into a spiral of weight loss, car accidents, and rehab runs in and out, the paparazzi watched, stalked, and criticized her. They violated her privacy and showed no compassion as they exploited her pain for profit.

Conversations about the treatment of celebrities like Bynes have started to surface with increasing frequency. In the last year, the Free Britney movement has drawn attention to the pattern of media cruelty towards Britney Spears and has called for her guardianship to be undone; Former Disney star Alyson Stoner’s article “The Toddler to Trainwreck Industrial Complex” explains the damage the entertainment industry inflicts on young people; Demi Lovato used her documentary series Dancing with the Devil (Dancing with the devil) for talk about the consequences of fame on body image and mental well-being.

With an awareness of mental health that is new in the recent decade, the public has responded to these stories with empathy. Spears and Lovato’s comments on Instagram are awash with notes, many of them applauding their strength. This sympathy for previously scrutinized celebrities suggests that we are able to step back and recalibrate our perspectives on paparazzi culture. The popularity of Deux Moi suggests otherwise.

With more than 900,000 followers, Deux Moi is an Instagram account that uses anonymous contributions from users to stay ahead of celebrity gossip. The account is private, creating an aura of exclusivity, and posts posts to your story, creating a fast-paced news-style experience. Since anyone with a smartphone can submit pictures and stories of celebrities, the account offers more timely and personal gossip than any of the major tabloids.

Discreet and numerous, Deux Moi’s followers have an update on Timothee Chalamet’s whereabouts every other day of the week. They have anecdotes of how Jennifer Anstion’s birthday party catered (“Sweetie!”) And Jerry Seinfeld’s limo driving (“How rude and demanding”). They even have a collection of nicknames for celebrities based on the stories that appear about them, for example, John “Safe Sex” Mayer.

At first glance, the account appears to be a more ethical alternative to traditional tabloids. Their fans and followers collect their stories through everyday interactions, not through harassment or pressure. Additionally, account reports, which consist primarily of screenshots of people who have directly interacted with celebrities, are generally unbiased. Although ultimately still a gossip account, Deux Moi’s motives appear to be light-hearted and his methods are relatively unobtrusive.

However, Deux Moi’s paparazzi subtlety has a dark side. With hotel staff, hairdressers, and everyone on the lookout for celebrities, ready to report their interactions, celebrities can’t let their guard down for a second. Under the gaze of an omnipresent paparazzi, celebrities live in a state of surveillance. It is, to say the least, a huge invasion of privacy.

With Deux Moi and his louder counterparts commodifying celebrity intimacy, it seems like the only truly ethical paparazzi is the one who isn’t. However, is it fair to discredit the gossip industry for being, well, gossipy? An industry that takes advantage of people’s daily lives for profit is not going to be the most morally upright, but does that mean we should reject it entirely? I do not believe it.

In Bynes’s case, the tabloids weren’t sharing news – they were bullying an unstable young woman. This is very different from telling the world that Shawn Mendes was walking barefoot through a farmers market (with an accompanying photo). Fair reporting on public encounters with celebrities falls into a completely different category than inappropriate criticism or harassment; Rather than dismissing all celebrity gossip as bad, it is best to judge journalism alongside the celebrity it features.

Leaving aside the issue, journalism that encourages prejudice, skews the truth and does not cite sources is bad; it doesn’t do its job effectively and is dangerous to your reader. The tabloids are no different. As exemplified by the rise of Deux Moi, gossip is best when it is unbiased and credible.

The culture of gossip is not dying out; However, since the height of Bynes’s popularity, he has certainly matured. The tabloid lies – possibly due to four years of life under the Trump administration – now face tougher criticism. The old antagonisms related to the physical appearance of celebrities are no longer allowed to go unchecked, and more and more people understand that picking on young girls is sexist and lacking in humor. While this ethical progress cannot undo the trauma inflicted on Bynes, it can help ensure that a new generation of young stars will not have to suffer a similar fate, which is a welcome step forward.