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PREACH IT! Jodie Foster pulls a Sean Penn?

Jodie foster Just hours after a story broke about Jodie Foster allegedly attacking a teen paparazzo, her spin machine is in full force.

Parents of the teen insist that Foster attacked him after he took photos of her and her family out at the Grove shopping center in Los Angeles. The 17-year-old filed a police report for battery; he said Foster poked him in the chest, grabbed his left arm and caused visible injuries.

Foster’s rep shot back that there had been no assault. The rep also said the teen is “most definitely a professional paparazzo" -- as if that should make a huge difference -- and that the snapper had the gall to follow Foster the roughly 50 yards from a movie theater to valet parking.

The pap’s dad replied via Radar that, no, the kid is not a pro.

What both sides seem to be missing is the same tiny detail that Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn and other famous bullies have forgotten: Why should it matter if he’s a "real" paparazzo?

People have the right to take photos of celebrities and their families whenever they’re out in public, regardless of whether the photographer intends to sell said photos. They have the right to walk wherever they want in public too, as long as no one is in any physical danger.

It may be in poor taste. It may irk the subjects of the photo. But it’s the law. And no one -- not even the rich and well-staffed -- has the right to dictate otherwise, especially with their fists.

You wouldn’t know it if you listen to the stars, of course. Celebrities spend thousands of dollars a month on a spin machine largely devoted to convincing the public that they somehow own our cameras. They play the I-was-just-protecting-my-family card -- conveniently ignoring that they themselves often sell photos of their children to magazines for millions of dollars when it suits them. (And, by the way, I have yet to read of someone’s death by flash bulb. Protecting whom from what exactly?)

Or stars will argue that they’re "not working" and therefore, somehow, have the right to dictate what other people say about them -- at least, in the visual format.

Yes, it would nice if photographers would back off sometimes to give celebrities breathing room, especially when they’re with family. But that pleasantness is far less sacred than the right to retell ...

... what we experience in our daily lives. That experience may just be a bad day at work, or it could be hey-I-saw-Jodie-Foster-at-the-mall. Either way, we saw it, we’re relaying it -- verbally, photographically, whatever -- and just because a celebrity is annoyed doesn’t give them the right to punch.

By rooting for the celebrities in situations like these, credulous fans are essentially arguing that ordinary folks silence themselves -- or else -- just so that people like Foster can have a better day.

-- Leslie Gornstein

Photo: Jodie Foster attends the Designing Women Awards in New York on May 25, 2010. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press. 

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Comments () | Archives (66)

By arguing that celebrities have a right to defend themselves from invasive photographers, no one is making an argument that either: a- we silence ourselves or b- that celebrities somehow "own our cameras".

What we are arguing is that harassing someone and/or their family in public, intentionally accosting them, badgering them, trying to elicit some reaction from them in order to get the photographs they're entitled to will have repercussions.

I am hardly famous, but someone who gets in my face to take a picture and doesn't move when I tell them to is getting shoved at the very least. If they're accosting my family...

The Photographers are violating personal space and deliberately harrassing people 'stars'. They are low life parasites and indicative of the greedy selfish culture that is swamping the world, due to the terrible media output.
Fair enough to photograph celebrities at events, premieres etc, perhaps from a distance, but to plague people as they do, creeping around and stalking them would inevitably invoke a fight or flight reaction in most people. They deserve what they get when it goes wrong for them.

The one thing that was missed is that the star's sell their commodity and are compensated for just that, their commodity. I would argue the fact that anyone has the right to photograph them while in public, thy are stealing a portion of the commodity and not compensating the individual star for using what belongs to them. Can an individual include themselves in a photo-shoot of the star just because they have a camera, I say f no. If the star had their own professional or amateur photographer taking photo's of themselves 24/7 capturing their commodity for sale, what would give an individual the right to steal some of the commodity? Why do they NOT allow camera's in government office buildings, it is a public owned building? Why is it so different from a politician to a celebrity?

Are you kidding me? Sorry but if someone ever stuck a camera in my kids face, a few pokes would be the least of the their concerns. This article is DISGUSTING. It is a slippery slope from following someone to Princess Diana.

The age of the Actors is almost over, did you not see Avatar? Just how close was he taking photos for her to inflict such embarrassing public pain control for him to back off?

Oh please. We know its more than just taking a picture. Following someone from a theater to their car is not "just taking a picture." That's exhibiting stalking behavior. Foster called him on it and if the 17-year-old can't handle it, then he should get a better line of work where he's not shadowing a woman and her family.

Celebrities deserve the same respect and courtesy as any person who is out and about. If someone I didn't know followed me from a theater to my car to take my picture, I'd call the police and I'd expect the police to arrest the person.

I agree with Zoe...There is such a thing as personal space even when you are out in public...It should not resort to hitting but, I would have called the cops on this person if my pleas were not bring heard..

It is great to see that people have sense judging by the comments here. Sticking a camera in a childs face is digusting behavior! He got assaulted by Jodie Foster? She is a tiny woman, you can't tell me he couldnt have walked away! You want to profit from other people even when the're trying to just act normal and have an outing with there family then you take the risk of getting your asp kicked! It is an occupational hazard, you take the job you take the risk.

how stupid. the paparazzi causes much harm to their targets causing car accidents, bumping into people, and even princess di's death. you've all seen you guys on tv making it impossible for celebrities to even walk down the street getting in their way. don't act all innocent. you guys are terrors.

It is one thing to take an actor's picture and quite another to take pictures of their family. Ms. Foster's has always protected her privacy and probably that of her children. I agree that it sounds like this young man was exhibiting stalker-like behavior and remember that Ms. Foster once had a very dangerous and crazy stalker, one who shot a President and his Press Secretary. And I'm sure the kid's intention WAS to sell pictures so he gets no sympathy from me. And please, she poked him in the chest with her wittle finger. That must have really hurt the whiney baby.

I think Foster was well within her rights to defend herself and her children when their personal space was violated. This 17 year-old male is saying a 47 year old woman "poked his chest" and "grabbed his left arm". People like you defending paparazzos are the one that are making this world a worse place. Go Jodie.

hey Leslie

maybe we should we follow you around all day with a camera in your face and the face of your loved ones?

We all deserve personal space.. He was stepping over the line of just taking a photo by following her to the parking lot.. Wake Up!

Thank you for an even-handed take on the situation. It's a shame that most of the commenters here enjoy bullies and feel that celebs should be above the law just because of their star status.

What's ironic is that the commenters who worship celebrities and believe that celebrities should be above the law are the very reason why photos of those celebrities are worth so much money. Perhaps they react with such naked aggression and mob mentality because they are confronted with the fact that these photographers are serving them with the intrusions they so wantonly crave.

Just a thought

No, I agree with Leslie, when it suits them, stars sell photos of their children to magazines. Today, it's just a fact of life, when they step outside, they are onstage. Welcome to the media age. If someone takes your photo or wants your autograph, TOUGH. It's your job. There are worse things in life, really. Some of these people make SO much money because we pay to see them.. I say tough. Deal with it.

Other than the physical contact, which I don't believe, as much as you may argue the photographer had the right to take a pic, she had the right to let him know verbally her displeasure with it. Also, I do wonder how this all got into the press in the first place if this kid was not a professional. Yes, many people do post pictures of themselves with a celebrity, but if it involved a serious incident, I do question the motives. Stirring up a lot of news may just be a means to an end, a financial one. She's been in the public eye practically since day one and I find it strange that all of a sudden she's crossed the boundaries.

Once, I saw a very high profile celebrity who is known for being very private and very um, temperamental. I even had my camera out taking pictures of the nearby scenery. I was too afraid to take his photo. Idiots have to know that they'll anger these people when they take their photos. I'd be angry too if someone randomly took my photo.

This article is disgusting and disgraceful. Paparazzi are parasites on the order of drug dealers.

Howsabout I smack you in the head with your own camera you parasite.

They thrive on publicity, photographers, countless interviews, appearances and then all of a sudden they think a 17 year old kid is "harrasing" them by taking a photo? This is the life they chose. They've built them selves up as royalty or something more special than the rest of us. They treat regular people like the "help".

Don't be ridiculous. These celebrities wanted to be famous and make millions of dollars, there has to be a price to pay for wanting desperately to be in the public eye. You can't have everything. Period.

Really, Leslie? Jodie Foster a bully? We know what the paparazzi does, just watch TMZ. Celebrities are human beings too and don't begrudge them because they are a commodity since we are all too willing to consume them as well. There has go to be a line drawn that paparazzi cannot cross -- it's called dignity and a little bit of respect on both sides.

Jodie Foster is a professional actress, not a professional celebrity, has never sold her family, and used to have her privacy respected by the gentlemen and ladies of the press. If a seventeen-year-old man was so close her couldn't get out of the way of this middle-aged woman, he was too close. "People like Foster"? People like Foster are people. What makes them less deserving of respect than you, Ms. Gornstein?

Nobody should go sticking cameras in anybody else's face that they wouldn't be comfortable having shoved up their own backsides.

I fall firmly on the side of the photographers and the right to photograph anyone and anything in a public space. If I can see it, I can shoot it. The right to be Rude and Annoying is obviously a huge problem, but there are common law solutions for it too, without resorting to I'm-a-Celebrity violence. Basic anti-harassment and disturbing the peace laws being two easy ones.

With regard to The Grove, however, the whole situation might be a bit more problematic. The Grove is, I think, entirely private property. It is open to the public and may well be a public accommodation under the law. But it isn't a public space like a sidewalk or public park might be. The owners (but not Ms Foster) could at least theoretically exclude a person for being disruptive, and at a threshold much lower than the police would use on a public street. Just think, how much friction would you tolerate between guests in your home before you tossed one or both of them out?

The Grove could just post No Photography signs near the entries and Ms Foster's problem is solved. Break the rule, get tossed out. Of course, that would mean the other 99% of tourists would have to be stopped from making snap shots or the signs would lose all meaning and enforceability. I doubt The Grove wants the headache.

these celebs deserve no speacial treatment.if you or i assaulted a paparazi or private investigator we would be arrested.throw her in jail and let her take responsibilty for her actions.these people pretend for a living and are really no one to admire.

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