Went to see Amy last week, which was honestly one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever watched. Now, this may not seem out of the ordinary since it doesn’t take much to make me cry, but I really mean it when I say that. It was so sad.
In amongst all the obvious tragic elements of the documentary-style feature – i.e the icon’s drug addiction, her tumultuous relationships, her eating disorders…I don’t need to go on – there’s a huge big thing that both in the film and in a wider context fittingly doesn’t get the attention it should: paparazzi.
When I imagine being famous, (I will probably win either an Oscar or a Nobel Peace Prize, haven’t decided yet) the idea almost immediately becomes an unattractive one due to the thought of being hounded by thousands of camera lenses. At risk of sounding v basic, I love a selfie, but that’s cos it’s on my terms if and when I take one, and, more importantly, it’s me holding the camera. I control how I look and I can apply as many filters as I want to make sure I sneakily and subtly convince everyone that I’m fit.
Now, I am aware that paparazzi photographers are employed to take pictures of celebrities, whoever they are, whatever gender they are. It’s all bad, don’t get me wrong. But if you think about the fact that a lot of these photographers are males, then think about the weight of image-related scrutiny applied to females celebrity or otherwise, and THEN consider how heavily this outweighs what men are subjected to, I think what I’m about to say is ok.
If you type ‘paparazzi’ into google images, you see men. If you watch clips of Amy Winehouse being followed by paparazzi, you see men. I don’t really want to, but I’m going to revisit that whole ‘women who eat on the tube’ thing, a series of photographs taken of females without their permission. By men.
Being followed home by an unwanted strange man is a standard occurrence for a lot of us. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be followed home by several unwanted strange men, all with unwanted cameras pointed at us, ready to ‘catch us out’. To catch us of out of what, I might add? The kitchen?
There are countless stories of celebrities being badgered by these photographers and, knowing the Amy Winehouse story as we do, such harassment – because it is harassment, there’s very little consent involved – can result in deep unhappiness and incredibly sad, severe circumstances. Yes, this does happen to Kanye. But have you ever seen Kanye’s vagina?
I feel like I’m heavily stating the obvious, but you know, I saw the film and felt cross. I think we loudly dismiss headlines and captions of celebrity photographs, and rightly so. We could, though, voice louder our opinions of the paparazzi themselves, by addressing how gendered this role appears to be. Paparazzi photography seems like an accepted form of stalking, and I think it breeds all kinds of sinister sexist stuff that we (obviously) don’t need any more of. I don’t really know what else to say other than that, really. Oh, well maybe just one more supposedly obvious thing: leave women alone?