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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)

TMZ, and ALL the paparazzi for hire are PURE LEECHES.

Why do we insist on punishing celebrities because they have a talent and use it to make a living???? I sure wish someone would follow one of these people that insist that this is okay and take pictures of everything they do for just a week and see how they feel afterward. Society has made it so that celebrities must sneek around to be just themselves. SHAME ON US!!!

Hey I like Jodie Foster as an actress. One of the best Ive seen. Smart, pretty, stylish. And as a mother she's well within her right to want her children undisturbed. But none of that changes the basic facts: She is just another person in a public place, with no more right to be left alone than anyone else. And no more right to grab the arm of anyone than anyone else. Violence is violence, no matter how small, and she doesn't get to use it just because she feels she has a good reason and she's "doing it for the children". She may not like the attention she gets, but she does not have the right to force people to ignore her.

There is no law on rudeness, but there is one on harassment. And if she had some way to show the 17 year old was harassing her, she could have done something. I'm not seeing any kind of real self-defense or defense of others being asserted here either. That is a real and valid legal strategy, but you better be able to back it up. And you'll notice her carefully worded statements don't say it. They imply it and they want you to believe it, but if she admitted to striking the kid, she'd be the one in trouble.

Bottom line, you are in a public space, you better be able to share it non-violently or it is you that ends up in hot water, great actress or not, mother or not, public approval rating or not.

Ah, beat up by a little girl. Doesn't that make you really feel sorry for the teen who obviously is as obnoxious as his parents.

Parents should teach their children to leave movie stars and other well known people alone if they encounter them in public, whether or not those stars have their children along. While it is certainly true that these people make money, many millions, by selling images of themselves to the world, they have a right to being treated like human beings and being left alone. What is the value, immediate or long term, of an autograph or a photo taken with a cell phone? I would argue that it is zero to the person, whether adult or child. It contains no precious memories or no authenticity in regard to a genuine "encounter" with a celebrity. Ten days later, it is nothing more than digital waste, something "delete" buttons were designed for. (If it is otherwise, you might want to consider whether there is anything in your life that makes it worth living.)

There should be a respected zone of privacy when it comes to children of the well known, who have not requested being born into a celebrity household and have done nothing to receive special attention. If the kids become professional actors, that's a different story. In the main, one should offer the same courtesies you would like for yourself and your own family. Having someone jump in front of you and snap a picture is not pleasant and, at base, feels like theft.

As for the idea that this is all legal, that is technically true. There are lots of things you could do in public that would be legal, but far outside the bounds of normal or acceptable behavior. If you do them, you will be called a jerk or worse by other people.

The bottom line is this: the public does not own celebrities. They have not sold their soul to you for the price of a movie ticket. They are not zoo exhibits, either. If you want to prove to your friends that you saw someone at the Mall, buy a better camera with a decent lens and take your shot from a distance. No one, except you, will be happy about it, but there won't likely be any confrontation.

You've got to be kidding. Photographers who follow celebrities are nuisances to everyone, and create dangerous situations wherever they go. It is disgusting and obnoxious of a teenager to go after a mother and her children, and he got what he deserved. Of course he has every right to take her to court, but I actually do think that these are the natural consequences of harassment. You write as if a photojournalist and people who run around photographing celebrities are the same thing. While they are and should be the same thing in the eyes of the law, let's not pretend that they have any relation to each other culturally, intellectually, or actually.

Who is this leslie gornstein? She writes like a 13 year old girlfriend of said paparazzo and her polemic is straight out of a jr. high school newspaper. Do they still have those?

Three cheers for Jodie Foster! Stalkerazzi go well beyond the law to harass, provoke and even assault their victims. A right to take a photograph in public places does NOT equate to the right to stalk, and track people.

Are you serious?

This wasn't just a kid with a camera phone, this guy had a big lens and followed her and her KIDS to the parking lot. He wasn't a fan who wanted one picture, he was a paparazzi who kept going after her.

Notice the quote about him having a mother. That clearly indicates that he said something horrible to her in front of her kids. Had she been alone, I doubt she would have done anything.

Plus, this isn't Russell Crowe or Sean Penn, who have a history of this. Have you ever heard of Jodie Foster beating up someone? Of acting horrible to anyone?

This isn't just a "usual" celeb gone crazy, this is a woman who had kids with her and a dad who sees money in the horizon. Preach that.

They're scumbags and would sell their Grandmother's false teeth away from her without a twinge of guilt. They don't take their snapshot and respectfully walk away, no, they have the right to run it into the ground and keep on snapping in hopes they will get one of the subject picking their nose. Everyone one of them is hoping to hit the lottery with a candid shot that rags would pay for. I think their self-justification is a stretch.

Kid's lucky that the very butch Jodi didn't kick his ass...besides wouldn't it have been more curteous to just ask for a quick photo with the star? ..and if she declines then leave her be and move along...and later mutter every nasty name you can think of about her...

Jodie Foster has every right to react the way she did, what a terrible invasion of her privacy. Celebrities should have the right to sanction photographs or what is printed about them, they are human beings and are entitled to the same rights as ordinary citizens.

This article implies that celebrities who do not wish to be followed at close range when they are on private outings with their families and or friends, are horrible people and have such nerve for wanting some privacy. This begs the question . . . why do you or the likes of you want so desparately to get pictures of those for whom you have such little regard?
I don't even let my own family members take my picture . . . why should a perfect stranger be able to follow someone so they can sell their photos to the highest bidder. It may be legal, but there should be some better boundaries established, especially when it involves children who should have the right to spending a day with their mother without being stalked.
Jodie Foster is known to be incredibly private as opposed to violent; if she did anything remotely close to inappropriate, I would venture to say the guy was too close to her, which clearly he was if he was in such close proximity for her to be able to touch him without going out of her way.
Last but not least, Jodi Foster has pretty much no history of doing anything to draw attention to herself and is not trying to sell her commodity . . . crazy rationale. Everyone should be entitled to a little privacy and their own personal space.

"It may be in poor taste"
Well, you got one part correct. Also, forgive me for missing something, but when did she use her fists, as related to your statement?
If people would quit reading rags, maybe these so-called "professionals" would just crawl back into their holes, or maybe get real jobs!

Stalking a person and their family all throughout the day is not representative of "normal folks." Sorry, Leslie. you're wrong.

Unless, the kid was smacked across the face, poking him in the chest and telling him to shove off only proves he needs to grow a thicker skin if he wants to be a pap.

Celebs do need to understand harrassment comes with the territory. Paps need to learn that lesson too.

Come on, the Grove? Surprised to have your photo taken at The freaking Grove?

Besides, non-public citizens deal with people stuffing fliers in their faces, asking them to sign whatever political list, I cant think of a grocery store in my area that doesnt have some group set up outside to ask me about blah blah blah, not something I like but I dont poke them asking them if they have mothers (which is verbal assault)

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