Documenting Paparazzi

Via the cinetrix, Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s video, “Pictures of Assholes” ($alon). Gordon-Levitt, who appeared in Mysterious Skin and Brick, turned his camera back on a group of overzealous photographers. Introducing the video on his website, Gordon-Levitt offers an interesting critique of infotainment culture: “I do believe that the myth of ‘Celebrity’ is not just innocently shallow entertainment, but a powerful and fundamental part of a larger movement revolving around greed, apathy and hierarchy that is currently dragging us down, down, down, lower and scarier, and perhaps weaker than we’ve ever, ever been. Smile!”


  1. cynthia Said,

    March 31, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

    he’s not necessarily wrong but one thing that these complaining celebrities don’t seem to get is that all the money they get from their jobs comes from this ‘sick’ culture–the act of memorizing and repeating lines on screen is not in itself so valuable that it deserves to be paid $20 million per film. they get all that money because they are marketing tools, because millions of people want to see their faces and put them on a celebrity pedestal. for the ‘sick’ culture to stop, people would no longer pay in droves to see movies or consume entertainment…and celebrities would be just as poor as the rest of us. if you want the money and the fame you give up your privacy, that’s just the way it goes. you can’t have it all.

  2. Chuck Said,

    March 31, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    That critique certainly crossed my mind as I wrote the entry. I’m guessing that Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t exactly in $20 million territory, but you’re certainly right. A celebrity’s decision to step into the public eye entails sacrificing his or her privacy to some degree and acknowledging one’s complicity with the greed that JGL claims to criticize (and it’s hard to tell whether JGL recognizes *his* complicity in that process).

    I actually appreciated the honesty of one of the photographers who openly acknowledged his role in feeding the gossip mill.

  3. Matthew Rettenmund Said,

    April 5, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    The honest photog has replied here:

    This, I’d say, makes JGL’s video at least questionable.

  4. Chuck Said,

    April 5, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

    Here’s a direct link to the blog post. I’ll be the first to admit that I should have been more suspicious of the video. As your blog post points out, the video’s re-appearance on the web is awfully timely. More later, hopefully, and thanks for leaving a comment.

  5. Mr. Verne Said,

    April 7, 2007 @ 3:24 pm

    The most intriguing thing to me about both paparazzi videos/pictures and the video JGL has made is the way cameras are specifically used to enact violence on another human being.

    As the “response” post mentions, paparazzi “hate” celebrities. Sometimes I wonder if fans do too – the old “love them so much I hate them” paradigm.

    Perhaps it’s the same for celebrities re: photographers. A hatred born of total dependence.

  6. Chuck Said,

    April 7, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

    That’s an interesting read, and clearly the gossip rags have a love-hate relationship with celebrity (note the horrific treatment of Brit Spears in the press recently). Granted, the celebrities do sacrifice some of their privacy when they profit so much off of the entertainment industry, but the video–however staged–brings out that ambivalence.

    And there is quite a bit of violence in both the paparazzi photos/videos and in JGL’s response.

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