For every moment a celebrity attacks a paparazzi, there is often another photographer there to capture it. Oftentimes, multiple witnesses are on the scene, and in some cases, an assaulted paparazzi will call the police to file a report, sue the offender, and make a profit.
The word "paparazzi" originates from the 1960 film La Dolce Vita, directed by Federico Fellini. One of the characters, Paparazzo, gets his name from a word in Italian that refers to annoying buzzing like that of a mosquito ("pappataci" is Italian for small mosquito). Through various films and books, the term "paparazzi" entered the English lexicon in the late 1960s, referring to intrusive photographers. In 2012, it bears the same meaning.
The paparazzi are responsible for the most widely seen images we have in contemporary culture. While this may not be ideal, it's the truth. These photographers make thousands of dollars from a single image that can be sold or syndicated repeatedly. They inhabit a weird form of postmodern journalism that's seen as both despicable and a part of the system of media we indulge in.
Paparazzi have an inexcusable history of invading the privacy of celebrities, whether it be waiting outside their homes or cars or sneaking into their hotel rooms. They taunt them verbally, asking them inappropriate questions to provoke reactions that will yield controversial photos or videos.
As a celebrity, feeling cornered or suffocated is one thing, but being verbally or physically assaulted is obviously another. Perhaps the most extreme example of a paparazzi assaulting a celebrity is the conspiracy surrounding the death of Princess Diana in 1997, where many assume that her fatal car accident was caused by a paparazzi car.
On the other end of the spectrum, celebrities have done their fair share of assaulting the paparazzi. With Kanye West getting into paparazzi trouble as recently as this past Sunday, it's obvious that celebrities get frequently harassed in cruel, unfair ways. While we feel sympathetic to their cause, it's difficult to endorse their violent reactions to the paparazzi, from kicking and punching to breaking camera equipment.
Ironically, paparazzi aid the professional lives of celebrities while interrupting their personal lives. It's both fascinating and horrific that their actions cause so many celebrities (and in some cases, their bodyguards) to reach the edge of tolerance and lash out.
We don't promote paparazzi attacking celebrities or celebrities attacking paparazzi. We don't qualify what the paparazzi do as art, although we do acknowledge their role in the greater realm of imaging. It's a serious subject that deserves examination from many angles. We've compiled a good place to start with When Celebrities Attack: 20 Infamous Paparazzi Assaults.