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Monday, Jan 21, 2008

Always at the forefront with important news, Time magazine brings us the gory details of a very important development: people are paying other people to follow them around like paparazzi.


Even as real celebrities battle those pesky cameramen on the streets and in courts for intruding on their lives and trading on their images, some regular folks, from parents hosting teen birthday parties to Gen Xers out on the town, have decided that the attention could be fun—and worth paying up to $1,500 for. Cowher launched Celeb 4 A Day in Austin in November and is expanding to Los Angeles this month and San Francisco in February. There are similar companies, like Private Paparazzi in San Diego and Personal Paparazzi in Britain, and wannabe big shots in other places have taken matters into their own hands, hiring freelance photographers to trail them.


Josh Gamson, a sociology professor, was dragged into the spotlight to explain this curious phenomenon: “If you don’t have people asking who you are, you’re nobody,” he explains.


As absurd as this sounds at first, it’s really no different than hiring wedding photographers. Only instead of restricting yourself to such special events, you can treat every night out with your fiends as if it were your wedding. This seems extravagant and sort of pathetic, but not entirely beyond the pale. It also, however, serves as a reminder of the seductiveness of surveillance, and why it is so difficult for stir people into protecting their rights of privacy. Former modes of social recognition have been superseded by fame, by publicity as an end in itself, and we now all accept that it’s enough to be known, and it is doesn’t really matter what one is known for, if there even is anything. So there is no illegitimate avenue to being famous, or reaping what are percieved to be the rewards of that. As a result, we’ve glamorized being watched to the point where exhibitionism no longer registers as a fetish but is instead almost a baseline norm.

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