The Right to Privacy

I was reading through the Sunday papers on the weekend, when I came across the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section and discovered a letter from Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was recently in Australia filming Scooby Doo — a dog of a film concept if ever I heard one — and had trouble with some elements of the media during her stay in this country.

Her letter was in response to comments made the week before by the paper’s gossip columnist, Ros Reines, stating that the media had the right to invade Miss Gellar’s privacy at will. But do they? Or should they?

In the eyes of Ros Reines, the paparazzi are hard-working individuals, eking out an existence by seeking out elusive pictures of celebrities at play. These photographers, and the media that run their images, are the true creators of celebrity — they make the stars. And, conversely, if an actor has the temerity to question the ethics of tabloid journalists, they can break them as well.

Incidentally, Ros Reines’ rebuttal to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s letter was pathetic. She showed all the dignity of a small child who had been reprimanded by an elder. Fawning darlings and childish tantrums do little to bolster a meagre journalistic talent.
Australia’s tabloid press, and their mainstream counterparts for that matter, have a history for being very liberal with the truth — seeming to subscribe to the principle of never let the facts get in the way of a good story. I’m sure the only reason most of the women’s magazines in this country are still in existence is due to the people they libel rarely ever getting wind of the articles written about them.

The exception to this is Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, who have a reputation of suing publications for misrepresentative reporting. The Australian media have been amazingly well-behaved towards both actors.

An interesting example of the media’s ability to makeup a story based on nothing more than an image, was the reaction of two different tabloids to a surreptitious photograph of Callista Flockhart holding a baby around the end of last year. One rag ran the story of a secret pregnancy (ignoring the fact that this is a stick-thin woman who’d blow away in a strong wind) and the other went with the adoption angle. Interestingly enough, both magazines are from the same stable.

Sarah Michelle Gellar has a different take on the situation. She was working in a foreign country and on top of that was newly engaged to her co-star, Freddie Prinze Jr. Her movements on location were dogged by photographers, who were continually scanning the production unit’s radio band for details. Her address in Brisbane was publicly announced by a local radio station, forcing her to relocate. And unfounded rumours about her behaviour onset and towards uninvited photographers were printed in a national publication.

So who has the right end of the stick? Personally, I have to lean in favour of Sarah Michelle Gellar. I know that I would find the publication of personal information inconvenient to say the least, and I would be less than enthused to discover camera-laden stalkers in the shrubbery.

Nobody has a right to invade your privacy. The media and the public do not have a right to know what you’re having for breakfast. What if tabloid journalists suddenly decided that electricians were the new celebrities and started stalking them — a little far-fetched, but it does make you wonder at the temerity of these people.

One way to stop this monster is to stop buying the trash masquerading as journalism that lurks at the checkout of your local supermarket. It will rot your brain anyway.


Published WrittenByMe — 28.06.2001
Published Nytewolf — 21.06.2001

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4 Comments


  1. Black Rose 1876

    13 October 2003 at 12.56 pm

    The right to privacy like any other rights is not always absolute especially when national interests is at stake. While it is true that government oficials and rank and file employees are not exempted from this principle, it is just and outright for anybody in the private sector to be subjected to investigation without invoking the “right to privacy” as a simple means of protection. If we do not hide something, and if our conscience is clean, why worry of being questioned? Graft and corruption both in the public and private sectors are rampant, being a public servant, one can not invoke the right to privacy while a private individual can. The law should be applied to everyone and not only to a selected type of person. If the right to privacy is being given weight and largely enjoyed by a private person, this will become an instrument or tool of any employees in the public sector to re-channel any unlawful gains and wealth obtained while in the performance of his duties and functions in the government where he is into. The re-channeling or transfer of illegal wealth could be done by conspiracy with private person since a private citizen can invoke this right. The result now is, there will be more untrace and unresolved cases of graft and corruption.

    Reply

  2. sbszine

    13 October 2003 at 4.54 pm

    If we do not hide something, and if our conscience is clean, why worry of being questioned?

    Uh, the presumption of innocence? At any rate, there must be a difference between accountability and harassment. People hiding in the shrubbery pursue the latter, I think.

    Reply

  3. Zoe Winder

    4 July 2004 at 7.59 pm

    Hi Sarah,
    Your the best actress in the world and I think that they have no right to invade your privacy. Your my Idol and that will never change. Metting you is in my most pleasnt dreams. So I was wondering If you could tell me if I’m any good at acting. I will send you a movie that I directed and could you give me a list of the people that were good actors in the movie? pleeeeeezzzzz. And I promis that nobody will be upset if they wernt picked. But it might take a wile because I have to do alot of things to do so good bye
    From your number 1 fan Zoe Winder.
    P.S. It would mean the world to me if you said yes

    Reply

  4. Greg Tingle

    25 October 2004 at 6.45 pm

    It goes with the territory. You work hard to become famous, get noticed and the like, the money comes, and so do the press – the good, the bad and the ugly. Showbiz and photos Sell!

    Reply

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