Every morning in Brussels when I walked down Boulevard St. Michel on my way to work, I passed an electronic sign that rotated between a stream of Dutch advertisements, which I could not read, and one ad for a French-language tabloid. I was surprised that Europeans had tabloids. I thought Americans were the only ones who needed to see a photo spread of Snooki’s baby eleven days after his birth. After I noticed the ad for the first time, I realized how prevalent tabloids are in Europe. There is a preoccupation with the Brads and Angelinas from their own countries and what seems like an equally large preoccupation with our own Brad and Angelina.
I was surprised to find that, in the aspect of celebrity culture, the Europeans are not much different from Americans. I did not expect to see photos of celebrities (mostly American) plastered on newsstands with outlandish and scandalous headlines attached. I thought that a preoccupation with celebrities and their daily lives was something that was uniquely American. I was wrong. In Europe celebrities seem to be portrayed as more scandalous; the more controversial, the better.
My observation from my time in Europe was exemplified recently when photos of a topless Kate Middleton spread throughout Europe like wildfire.
A French photographer took the photos while Kate and her husband were vacationing in the south of France. The Royal Family’s attorneys are working hard to bring the publication, Closer, and the photographer, Valerie Suau, to justice, according to an article from The International Business Times.
We will soon find out if the photographer legally snapped the pictures or not. Either way, the photos and the subsequent media firestorm are frustrating to me. Why would people want to see or care about this?
Admittedly, I’m a fan of William and Kate. I stayed up late to watch the Royal Wedding and I enjoy reading about their latest travels and work.
However, I think fascination with celebrities and their portrayal in the media has a line, and Valerie Suau and Closer crossed that line. The Royal Family are people too, and they deserve at least a semblance of privacy.
While the Royals are taking legal action in regards to the photos, Suau, who, according to The International Business Times, “has worked for some of the biggest news agencies in Europe,” claims that she was completely within her rights when she snapped the photos because she was not on private property.
A colleague of Suau’s told the Daily Mail:“There were other people around, including walkers and cyclists, as well as staff of the chateau. The Duchess was sure to have known this, and perhaps should have been a bit more careful about displaying her body in such a prominent position.”
Even if the photographer did legally take the pictures, I don’t think it makes it right. Kate Middleton did thrust herself in the spotlight by dating and eventually marrying the future king of England, but she still deserves privacy.
More importantly, what do the photos and their international publication say about journalism? Do journalists no longer respect privacy and integrity of people, famous or otherwise? I certainly hope not.
Do you think Valerie Suau was right in taking the photos? Futhermore, Do you think the Royal Family is right in taking legal action, and will they win the suit?