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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)

go Jodie! too bad she didn't punch him in the face. what parasitic losers these photographers are.

This is a stupid article. Pulls a Sean Penn? What's in the police report which sounds bogus anyway is an arm grab and a finger poke. Why are you acting like she beat him up? Please.

You fail to realize the most important issue here which is she was with her two young children and said they were frightened. Are you going to say because you're famous you're supposed to allow some stranger with a camera to repeatedly follow your kids around and harrass them with you? She was defending her kids who were scared. Any mother would do that, famous or not.

So this article is basically saying this paparazzi was right for stalking, harassing, and frightening Jodie Foster's two small children. But when Jodie Foster verbally expresses her displeasure with this, and what's in the police report is a "finger poke" and "arm grab" SHE'S THE BULLY here? Are you serious? And you're saying because she's a celebrity no one should take her side? Well she's also a mother who was looking out for her two small children who were frightened by this stalking behavior. This is one of the most disgusting articles I've ever read.

just because a celebrity is annoyed doesn’t give them the right to punch. [/quote] There was a no punch here. A "finger poke" and even that is questionable as she said it was fabricated and she only went up to him, tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to stop because it was scaring her children. Ooh such violence.

Look at this for what it is, not a celebrity ruining things for you media scum, but a mother defending her children who happens to be famous and some jerks are trying to get in her pockets.

The comments about selling children's photos to magazines and thriving on publicity are ridiculous considering Jodie Foster has never done that. She promotes her films, not her private life. And she has never sold her children's photos. She has been stalked all her life. Show a little respect. You can't seriously put her in the category with these media hungry celebs because she's not that. The fact is you snap a few photos and go but if this punk actually followed her all around the place snapping photos of her small children even after being told to stop, that's stalking. Just because the person has a camera and the victim is a celebrity doesn't make it right, ESPECIALLY if her innocent kids are there.

Some people with their comments here really shock me. A movie star making a lot of money is completely irrelevant to the issue of protecting your children when they are being harassed and made uncomfortable. A finger poke and little scolding for that is hardly bullying or an attack. Get real.

[Quote]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, are you kidding me? If someone chased you down the street, taking photos of you and your family, sticking a camera in your child's face, how would you react? Judging by your nil thought comment, I'm betting you'd strike out in violence. Pretender.

Write this when you have had a stalker that shoots a president. Come from this perspective when your children's lives are put in potential danger by exposure. If photographing celebrities children is not against the law, it should be, and shame on you for having such a cavalier attitude about the safety of children, who just happen to be the children of public figures.

And the fact that you are not disturbed by a 17 year old papparazi, one who has been the subject of a documentary and drives a sports car most adults cannot is afford, is telling of your character.

I agree with most of the people here when they say it was unacceptable for this 17-year old boy to "stalk" and invade Jodie Foster and her family's personal space.

Good for Jodie for protecting her family and standing up to that weasel.

Of course the LA Times would side with the photographer, since gossip is a form of news. But I am proud of Ms. Foster as an artist, an intellectual, and as a person. It is difficult to stop rude and intrusive people who want to intrude into and upon your life. Bravo for her attempt to do so.

The most frequently quoted statement by a Supreme Court justice on the subject of privacy comes in Justice Brandeis's dissent in Olmstead v. U. S. (1928):

"The makers of our Constitution understood the need to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness, and the protections guaranteed by this are much broader in scope, and include the right to life and an inviolate personality -- the right to be left alone -- the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men. The principle underlying the Fourth and Fifth Amendments is protection against invasions of the sanctities of a man's home and privacies of life. This is a recognition of the significance of man's spiritual nature, his feelings, and his intellect."

The mass of people think that their numbers give them the right to believe what ever they want, and that their numbers make anything they believe true.

They are wrong and foolish. They may be in the majority, but a mob always is. The Internet brings out the mob psych in many people. It is a pity that the LA Times is a forum for the braying of the mob. Luckily, some readers and writers will come to defend Ms. Foster's actions. Et tu LA Tempus?

I couldn't disagree with you more Gornstein. You are obviously not a parent if you think this is acceptable. As a parent, when you are in public you have a slightly heightened sense of danger because you are responsible for the safety of your child. There are enough crazies for ordinary folks to deal with, add celebrity status to it and you have even more worries. People have a right to protect their children.

MY but Jodie's gotten testy now that her career's in the dumpster.

Add me to the list of people on the side of the celebrities on this one. No matter the law, there are little things I learned in grade school called "time and place" and "respect for the privacy of others." Perhaps more celebrities should start fighting back. It will only take one angry person with a gun to make the point that people need to back off.

Nobody has an expectation of privacy when they are out in a public place. If you can take a picture of me when I'm at the Grove then anyone else is fair game too. I don't care if they are a celebrity. Yeah she has a right to express her displeasure, but poking a grabbing some 17 kid crosses a line. You people are so star struck that you'd probably think, "Wow! My kid just got manhandled by a celebrity!"

"People have the right to take photos of celebrities and their families whenever they’re out in public "

Uh, no they don't.

I agree with the people drawing a connection between this type of behavior and current harassment law, including sexual harassment. If this were a man following an ex-girfriend around town, because he "has the right to walk where he wants to walk," then he'd be slapped with a restraining order in no time.

There needs to be some adjustment to the law that recognizes that stalking to take a picture can be as bad as stalking to harass an ex partner. We need to figure out where that line is and adjust the law.

I think the law should be changed regarding children.

Data needs to be collected from the police and FBI regarding the percentage of death threats made against celebrity children, versus the average non celebrity child. That might establish reasonable criteria for "endangerment" by making the kids too widely recognizable and photographing celebrity children could be banned.

Of course that would force Tom Cruise and Brangelina to find another self promotion tack.

Jodie Foster is one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood and a real class act.

She would never sell her private life. You will never find pics of her with her kids on covers like People Magazine, et al. for $$$$$

Yeah, this article is crazy. We all know that it was more than just snapping a few pictures of her. Anyone that talks negative about Jodie in this situation is ubsurd.


And Jane, just because they make a lot of money doesn't mean they can be harassed by these people. I would be angry, too. It's not just taking pictures. Plus, Jodie has never sold pictures of her children to the media. This article is ridiculous!

Princess Diana...enough said

Is this a story about a private person being hounded by an obnoxious kid with a camera or is it a strange rant against celebrities by a writer who wishes someone would want to take THEIR picture?

I DISAGREE WITH THIS ONE! I would have done the same thing Jodie Foster did. In case you guys forget, Jodie has already dealt with some psychopaths in her life. Personally, I would like to see the laws amended concerning this issue. Rather than allowing reporters to follow and snap shots all day long, they should put r...estraining orders on them with a distance of say 1,500 feet. These people deserve some privacy, especially if their children are present. WAY TO GO JODIE!See More

Paparazzi are the lowest forms of human life, period. Would anyone really care if Miss Foster killed this kid. I doubt it................

I am both an attorney and professional photographer. The one thing people often overlook is that, just because it involves a camera, doesn't mean it has to do with photography.

Legally, absent an actual intrusion into a private area, the law is about what you do with the photos versus having obtained them. Therefore, yes, in a public area, you can always take photos. But, just because you can, should you? Absolutely not.

Any serious photographer understands that photography is as much about the relationship with the subject matter as it is the physical act of clicking away. Even in hard news journalism and documentary work, there is a certain relationship, thought or respect for the subject matter. In my humble opinion, using a camera with complete indifference for the subject isn't photography. It's harassment.

Oddly enough, some feel that as long as they have a camera in hand, they have a license to harass. Well, that's why - as a lawyer - I'll never be out of work. If you want to operate at the edge of the law, be prepared to deal with the consequences.

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