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Illustration of Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya with crowns on their heads in front of a purple swirly background
Original illustration by Cameron Crews

Celebrity Privacy Versus the Papparazi

Ever since Tom Holland hit the big screens accompanied by his Spider-Man co-star, Zendaya, fans have continuously speculated the two dating in reality. It wasn’t until this past summer when the paparazzi captured an image of the two kissing that fans’ suspicions were confirmed.

Holland, who had kept quiet about the image release, finally opened up about it in a recent interview with GQ

“One of the downsides of our fame is that privacy isn’t really in our control anymore, and a moment that you think is between two people that love each other very much is now a moment that is shared with the entire world,” he explained in the interview. “I’ve always been really adamant to keep my private life private, because I share so much of my life with the world anyway. We sort of felt robbed of our privacy.”

After the GQ interview was released on Wednesday, fans caught a glimpse of the struggles celebrities face in their day-to-day lives. And the perhaps biggest problem is not just the paparazzi but also society’s consistent intrigue by celebrity culture.

Being a paparazzo, just like anything else, is a career. Whether or not it’s a moral career is up to individual belief, but at the end of the day, they don’t do it to harm celebrities. They do it to make a living wage. 

The drive and motive for the career–to capture images of celebrities, preferably scandalous images–is backed up by society’s own desire to know everything. Paparazzi are simply fulfilling that desire. 

Of course, there are some paparazzi photographers that overstep boundaries and make celebrities profoundly uncomfortable, like in 2018 when Selena Gomez told them, “You’re scaring me.” But, there are also many more who do it in as respectful of a manner as possible, as can be seen in Buzzfeed’s mini-documentary, The Insane Lives Of Paparazzi

When public exposure like Tom Holland and Zendaya’s occur, it’s easy to automatically assume blame on the paparazzi, as they’re the immediate source of the images. What so many people fail to consider is why that career exists in the first place. The more worthy blame are those who ingest the scandalous media, thus supporting the industry as a whole. 

When you have a market–people who will consistently pay for your work–why would you stop providing the service? The easy answer is, you wouldn’t…unless you were some sort of ethical guru. 

What happened to Tom Holland and Zendaya was undoubtedly wrong. Every human deserves an ounce of privacy, especially regarding relationships and romance. But when situations like that occur, we must reflect on celebrity culture as a whole and the toxicity that arises when fans follow them religiously. There’s a fine line between enjoying someone’s public work and living vicariously through them. Crossing that line is what allows the paparazzi to thrive, and subsequently, opens the doors for more celebrity scandals to occur in the future.

Lucie is currently a freshman majoring in Film & Screen Studies at Pace University in New York City. She was formerly Editor-in-Chief of The Uproar (2020-21), an award-winning online publication based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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