I don't want to get all Bill O'Reilly over here, but I've gotta get on record saying this rash of celebrities claiming they've been involved in stalkerazzi-related traffic accidents is straight-up bullshit. How can anybody be taking these claims at face value? Out-of-control skank Lindsay Lohan, who has already racked up an abysmal driving record in her 18 years, gets in a crash with a photographer, and we're supposed to assume the photographer's at fault? Accident-prone xanthochroid Cameron Diaz blames nameless shutterbugs for her bad luck, and the papers believe her? The legendarily high-strung J.Lo shows signs of persecution anxiety, and that's the fault of the paparazzi?
Is it not clear what's going on here? The celebrities saw how effectively the royals managed to pin blame for Princess Di's drunk-driving death on the press, and they're trying to get some sort of precautionary principle going—through either some new L.A. city ordinance, or more coercive policing, or just by waving the bloody shirt until the press backs off. Since they have a considerably stronger hold on the public attention span than some bottom-feeding photographer, they'll almost certainly pull it off. What's most amusing of all is listening to these performers (who as we all know use unfettered free expression to assault the core values of this Christian nation) talk about how they respect the First Amendment, so long as it doesn't "cross" some "line." To wit:
"I do understand the First Amendment and I understand the right of the paparazzi," says hit-and-run driver Halle Berry. "I think the problem is they are crossing the line."
"A line needs to be drawn in terms of getting violent," says the violent rageaholic Lohan.
And of course, the tabloid media, well aware of their own low place in the celebrity caste system, are all too eager to truckle to these divas and their insane demands: US Weekly editor Janice Min says her magazine will pull pictures at publicists' request "if there is a set of photos that come in that seem to show someone under great duress or cross the line."
I'll say a line's being crossed! Contemporary celebrities have already reneged on every other part of fame's social contract. Every millimeter of access is now controlled by hardcore publicists like the attempted murderer Lizzie Grubman. Titanic megastars now insist on being lauded as down-to-earth folks in their ridiculous baseball caps and shades. You've got glamorous actresses sharing the details of their pregnancies with the whole world, sixty-year-old harridans who refuse to play old and then bellyache that there are no good roles for older women. Now the stars are trying to get out of the one thing they still owe us: the opportunity to gawk and laugh at their stupid hijinx. Don't let them get away with it! Free the paparazzi!