Will You Join Me in Boycotting Paparazzi Culture? ~ Kristina Peterson

Via Kristina Peterson
on Sep 16, 2013
get elephant's newsletter

Watchers and looky loos

Why do we watch?

Waiting in the grocery store checkout line or in the lounge of any given hair salon, all we see are magazines touting celebrities. Their lifestyle, their weight loss plans, their marriage, their daily walk in the park with their kid.

When we really think about this fixation, it is incredibly disturbing.

My job as an assistant director on film sets puts me in direct contact with actors, fans and paparazzi. In the last 20 years, the paparazzi presence surrounding a lot of the actors has increased dramatically. By and large, “Paps” are a respectful bunch in a disrespectful job. Most of the photographers are employed by agencies. They get assignments to go out and cover specific shoots or events and they have rules they have to follow. No disturbing filming, no trespassing on private property and interestingly, no photographs of family members, including children.

PapparazziThose are the agency guys. In the hierachy of paparazzi, they are the “most moral”, if there is such a thing. One guy in particular will not take any assignment involving a house of worship. No weddings, funerals, high holidays, christenings, etc. “Those are private moments for the family,” he says.

Agency guys have set schedules, health insurance and most importantly, an employer that does not want to be held responsible in a lawsuit.

Then there are the “stringers” or freelancers who make their money by selling single photographs to various outlets. They’re the pirates of the industry. Those guys (and I use the term “guys” since the vast majority of paparazzi are men) are the ones to worry about.

Those are the guys the agency guys hate. They ambush celebrities at funerals, hide in trees to catch them topless at their pool, jump in front of moving cars and chase people into alleys.

They terrorize children at school and birthday parties.

Here’s the thing: none of these guys would really have a job if we weren’t so obsessed with celebrities. Admit it, we’ve  all flipped through those magazines while waiting for a haircut or standing in line at the store. Even some of the mindful life magazines have started to treat the yoga rockstars as if they’re celebrities.

Focusing not on their work, but on their stuff and their lifestyle.

What is it about public personalities that makes us collectively nuts?

Watchers2On a recent shoot in Los Angeles with two “A-List” actors, there were hundreds of people watching us film.


Taking photos with their phones and boiling in the hot southern California sun.

For hours.

Is it a boost to our self esteem to read that a mega film star has a cheating girlfriend?

Does it help us sleep at night to know that a once famous child star has hit rock bottom emotionally, financially and physically? Or is it just comforting to see that someone who plays a superhero also snacks down big time on cupcakes occasionally?

Psychologists have tons of theories about celebrity worship. At the least, it’s harmless. At worst, it creates massive mental health problems, from self esteem issues related to body image in teenage girls to homicidal actions in middle aged males.

My argument is that it is never harmless; celebrity worship is morphine for the soul. Dulling our senses and distracting our hearts. It’s our way of not dealing with our own world. It’s our way of not connecting with each other because we are busy obsessing over a pop star’s weight gain.

This obsession fosters envy, jealousy and mean spirited-ness. Discussions about celebrities are replacing discussions about politics and the environment.


There’s an interesting theory about celebrity obsession out there. It postulates that our interest is more than just the person. Our interest is in the divine. The celebrity is our connection to immortality, a demigod, and by following their activities, we are less inclined to fear death. Our modern day pop stars are the pharaohs of old Egypt.


Celebrities are just ordinary people. Some are incredibly smart, some are incredibly dumb. All of them are extremely fortunate to be where they are and most of them appreciate that fact. They are not demigods.

Not even close and they would (well most of them would) argue that they are much more fallible than even the regular man/woman on the street.

Can we put the gossip rags and photos of buff stars on the beach aside and focus on what is truly important? Real connection to one another, community, joy and most importantly, being comfortable in our own skin.

Not wearing someone else’s.

Or are we trying so hard to numb ourselves to the pain of intimacy that the only thing we can connect to is a carefully crafted false image of a modern day demi-god?

Will you join me in boycotting paparazzi culture?

Let’s put down the tabloid magazines and reclaim our souls.

Like elephant journal enlightened society on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photos: Jack Montague}


About Kristina Peterson

Kristina Peterson is a film production refugee.  After 15 years as a yoga student, she took her first teacher training in 2010 from Annie Carpenter in Venice, California. She now resides in the south where the mosquitoes are bigger and the bourbon is sweeter and she teaches yoga when she can, works on films that touch her heart and studies history because she hopes to avoid the mistakes of the past.



7 Responses to “Will You Join Me in Boycotting Paparazzi Culture? ~ Kristina Peterson”

  1. @amydcushing says:

    I totally agree with you. We as a society are responsible for our celebrity-obsessed culture. I support your boycott!

  2. Mahlon says:

    Great article. Totally agree. I'll join you.

  3. Catriona says:

    Oh, I joined a looooooooooooong time ago! Even in high school, working at the local grocery store, I simply did not get why anyone would buy those stupid gossip rags about celebrities! Why would I care about the private life of someone I did not know and would probably never meet? When celebrities are doing private things, like hanging out in their own pool, getting married, attending funerals, etc. they should be left alone. When they are out in public, I do realize that these people should expect a certain amount of notice HOWEVER their families did NOT sign up for the gig and should be left alone. I am afraid that you are, however, preaching to the choir. Anyone with a strong sense of self and their own accomplishments as well as a fully lived life, doesn't care that much about celebrities, if at all. Those that are even mildly obsessed probably don't/won't get it because they need to GET A LIFE! But thanks for the article!

  4. Laura says:

    Agree 100%

  5. Townships says:

    Well said – this is a boycott i have long participated in. It is disturbing how obsessed our western society is with pop culture and celebrities. Tis truly junk food for the mind and soul. If only more people would think a bit about what this obsession speaks to …I’m very okay with being “un-pop cultured.”

  6. Kristychan88 says:

    Yes, Most of the readership of Elephant Journal has probably renounced the paparazzi culture, but I still wanted to bring it into the light, if only because I see the same disturbing trend happening with high profile yoga teachers and activists. It's an insidious and slow creeping plague worldwide.

  7. Kristychan88 says:

    Thanks for the support folks. Big changes start with small steps. 🙂