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PREACH IT! Jodie Foster pulls a Sean Penn?

June 11, 2010 |  5:58 pm
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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