The incident once again highlights the strange relationship between celebrities and the photographers who follow their every move in order to get a shot they can sell to news organizations. These images are worth hundreds, thousands, or, in the case of wedding or baby photos, even millions of dollars today. How did we get to this point? According to NPR, the phenomenon originated in post-World War II Italy, where lots of American movies were being filmed because it cost less than making them stateside, so lots of movie stars were always spotted milling around. Italy's high unemployment rate mean that lots of men without jobs were around, too, and they soon realized that they could make money by turning a camera on the actors. They could make even more money if they forced a confrontation with one of these stars. Legendary Italian director Frederico Fellini gave the celebrity-trailing pack of photogs a name when his 1960 film about a journalist, "La Dolce Vita," featured a photographer named Paparazzo.
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Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag (PacificCoastNews.com)
The decades since have seen a huge increase in the number of news organizations that use those images — and not just those focused on celebrity news, such as omg!. In part, to feed this appetite for candid images of famous faces, the men and women behind the cameras have become increasingly aggressive in pursuing the perfect shot. They often yell out questions or comments at the celebs to try and invoke a response, and can often be quite dangerous when they're trailing behind stars on the road. We all remember Princess Diana's shocking 1997 death in a car crash following a high-speed chase in Paris that was blamed on the paparazzi. However, Peter Howe, the author of the non-fiction book Paparazzi, told NPR last year that the tragedy couldn't be pinned only on the people with the cameras. "A lot of the people who were most vocal about how awful those photographers were to be chasing her were exactly the same people whose obsession with her had been fueled by similar photographs, and who'd bought magazines with pictures of her in them time and time and time again," Howe noted. "So it is a very complex relationship. The celebrities themselves who are the subject matter ... they will tell you how awful these people are, but they will also use them whenever it is convenient for them." Celebrities, who chose a career in the spotlight, are thankful for the cameras at red carpet premieres of their latest movies, for example. And some of them who desperately want publicity — former "Hills" stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag come to mind — have even been known to call the paparazzi themselves.
Halle Berry and Nahla (Splash News)
Russell Brand (Clint Brewer/Banks/Splash News)
Whose side are you on in the battle between celebrities and the paparazzi? Do you think being followed by photographers is just something that comes with the price of fame, or does today's paparazzi go too far?
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