I am sure that by now many have viewed the most recent episode in the ongoing saga of Britney Spears. In case you missed it, as a private familial situation spiralled out of control and the police where summoned to her home, a media circus began to erupt. Photographers, camera operators and news helicopters were all trying to obtain images of the unfolding events.
One could argue that celebrities such as Ms. Spears, Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, depend upon the media and paparazzi. If no one is seeking them out, then they are no longer on the “it” list. Their relationship with the media is truly a double edge sword. Yes, the media will be there to benefit them in the good times. But then they will also be quite willing to document the bad times as well. Personally, I have never been a fan of Ms. Spears and I admit that in the past I have snickered as she was mocked in the court of public opinion. But clearly this woman is in need of help. Yes, she is in the public eye, but are there not some events that should be left untouched by the media?
How would we feel if our personal unravelling was documented for all to see? Do we as a society contribute to this problem by purchasing the publications found in the check-out lane of the grocery store? If there were not a demand for these images, would the media circus even have happen in the first place? I appreciated the “Paris Free” zone established by The Hour last season. Perhaps a “Britney Free” zone will be featured this season.
Of course the glare of the media spotlight is not limited to celebrities. As humans we are typically curious about the events that surround us and the media is quite willing to satisfy that curiosity using the journalistic rule of “if it bleeds, it leads”. With each passing year, I find this concept to be less appealing and often distasteful. This weekend I was disappointed in the editorial decision of a Toronto newspaper for their choice of the front page photo used to illustrate the story surrounding a candlelit vigil held in memory of a 14 year-old murder victim. The photo was a close-up of her obviously grieving younger brother. Yes, the photo may be worth a thousand words and clearly demonstrates the loss felt by the family. But I also believe that there are some “images” that should be left unseen.