Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner recently took to her Instagram stories with a blunt message for the paparazzi – stop taking photos of her 10-month-old daughter.
In a now-deleted video message, Sophie explains that she specifically avoids the paparazzi at all costs “because I explicitly do not want those photos out there.”
She adds that “it’s f***ing creepy that grown old men are taking pictures of a baby” without their permission.
This is the thing. Why does she even need to spell this out?
Isn’t it… obvious?
Isn’t it obvious that following a baby around for a photo is plain wrong? That selling that photo to a publication without the parents’ permission is plain wrong? That the publication then going on to upload it for their millions of readers to see without the parents’ permission is also plain wrong? Am I missing something here?
Much like Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling, Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, Mindy Kaling and so many more, Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have made a huge point of not posting any photos of their baby online which identify her.
So when a tabloid goes “oh what the hell, let’s print the pics anyway,” knowing this very fact, isn’t it just plain wrong? (FYI, the publication which shall not be named has removed the story now.)
I know celebrity news lost its moral compass a long time ago – Publishing photos of the lifeless body of Michael Jackson as he lay on a stretcher in 2009. Getting a news crew to fly overhead in a chopper and film a clearly struggling Britney Spears shaving her hair off in 2007. And more recently, posting photos online of the scene of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other people.
I know crossing that line and publishing photos like these generates huge dollars for the paparazzi and the publication.
But I also know that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
It’s a lesson the celebrity news industry is still learning. In fact, it’s a lesson any of us who live in the digital world are still learning.
But this discussion about publishing photos of celebrities’ babies without consent? We’ve already had it. We already know it. And most publications respect the fact that it’s not cool to stalk kids just because their mum or dad is famous.
In 2013, a bill championed by Hollywood stars – and mums – Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner was signed into law in California which sees higher penalties for anyone attempting to record or photograph a child because of their parent or guardian’s employment in a manner that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments or terrorises” the child.
“We’re moms here who are just trying to protect our children. These are little innocent children who didn’t ask to be celebrities. They didn’t ask to be thrown into this game and they don’t have the wherewithal to process what’s happening. We don’t have a law in place to protect them from this,” Halle said in her testimony at the time.
Jennifer Garner also spoke out highlighting other problematic aspects of paparazzi culture, because sometimes, it’s not even about the actual photo:
“There are violent, mentally-ill stalkers who can now get close to my kids by simply following mobs of photographers and blending in. Like the very man who threatened to cut the babies out of my belly. Who was arrested waiting behind our daughter’s preschool, standing among the throng of paparazzi.”
In 2014, Dax Shepard wrote a piece for Huffpost about why children should be off limits to the paparazzi and began an online movement encouraging all of us to refuse to buy publications that show photos of famous people’s kids without their consent.
“The consumer is the only one who can put an end to this. They are the only ones with real power,” he wrote.
A number of celebrity publications from People.com to Entertainment Tonight and even gossip site Just Jared agreed to the “no kids policy” and have stuck with it.
It’s the done thing now. It’s a widely accepted practice. You don’t publish the pics.
And even though the laws only passed in California, most publications have the decency to understand and respect the fact that a child is off limits.
So why, in 2021, is Sophie Turner still having to tell the paparazzi to f*** off and leave her baby alone?
She shouldn’t have to.
Do better, media.
(Feature Image Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock.com)