Hannah Prater, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2016 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: Kristen Bell started an initiative called “No kids policy,” stating that paparazzi should not be legally allowed to take photos of the children of celebrities. Her philosophy behind this idea is that just because the parents are celebrities, the children did not ask for it and it greatly hinders their childhood. Discuss whether photographs of children should be allowed.
Kristen Bell’s “No Kids Policy”, also referred to as #Pedorazzi on social media, has gained a lot of attention in the past few years. The initiative is motivated by a desire for famous parents to protect their children from the harassment they often experience themselves from the paparazzi. Several celebrities such as Jennifer Garner have backed Bell and her husband Dax Shephard in boycotting magazines that purchase photos of celebrity children. Bell even went so far as to condemn People Magazine on Twitter for publishing photos of celebrity children, “dear @peoplemag – scaring & harassing kids isn’t ‘entertainment news’. pls agree to stop using #pedorazzi shots. #nokidspolicy RT IF U AGREE.”
Bell’s movement takes Halle Berry’s Parazzi bill to a new level. In January of 2014, just one month before Bell’s tweets to People Magazine were posted, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 606 into California State Law, granting a year of jail time to any paparazzo who should harass a child of 18 years or younger because of their parent’s famous occupation. I believe this bill is both necessary and effective, as the primary issue of placing children as a focus of tabloid photography is the manner in which it is executed. If tabloid photographers are disrespectful of personal space and pester the children and their parents, I believe consequences should be enacted. However, in a case where the child may not even notice the paparazzo, I don’t believe there is must of an issue. While it is difficult for any child to grow up in the limelight, it was the parents’ choice to bring children into a life in the limelight at the end of the day, and as long as paparazzi are respectful of their subjects and discrete in their execution of projects, I don’t see a problem with their work.
While I believe that taking photos of a child with their celebrity parent can be accurately construed as a form of harassment, I feel that Halle Berry’s bill just action enough. It goes straight into the root of the problem, enacting punishment on disrespectful paparazzo. Demanding that a publication stop purchasing photos of celebrity children altogether seems like an excessive and irrelevant measure to me. To ask a company to alter the way they conduct business seems like a deflection mechanism. If Kristen Bell doesn’t find Halle Berry’s bill as resolution enough, I think she should have thought more about having children while continuing to pursue a career in entertainment.
Hannah is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Advertising and Multimedia Design.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.