Thursday, Apr 17, 2014 11:00 pm est

Paparazzi, celebrity culture blurs line between artists, art

Posted on December 4, 2013 | by Sean Hickey


Sometimes in the entertainment world, it can be hard to draw the line between what the art is and who the artist is. For instance, Alec Baldwin’s recent troublesome behavior led MSNBC to announce the cancellation of his show “Up Late With Alec Baldwin” last week.

Over the years, Baldwin has made headlines for yelling and even physically assaulting photographers. His altercation with a paparazzo in October, however, in which Baldwin used anti-gay slurs, has devastated the actor’s career the most.

Should hosts’ and actors’ personal lives define their careers? Baldwin is at the top of his game as an interviewer, as demonstrated in the few episodes of the show that aired, but his talent could not save the show. An extreme example of this could be observed in Charlie Sheen’s beyond controversial explosion, which led “Two and a Half Men” to sever ties with the actor. However, this was an understandable situation — from a professional point of view, working with Sheen was impossible.

The recent accusations of racism against Paula Deen are more similar to Baldwin’s situation. Both Deen and Baldwin are known to be entertaining and inviting on screen — what they are like in real life has nothing to do with their work on television. In Deen’s case, she became a punching bag for the media, which wanted an excuse to rail against any hint of racism in America. Similarly, late-night comedians, who wan-ted a cheap laugh, exploited Baldwin’s misstep.

This illustrates how a controversy is only as big as the media portrays it to be. In Baldwin’s case, ironically, the media caused the outburst in the first place. Unfortunately, because of previous paparazzi confrontations, Baldwin has become a photographer-magnet, each trying to snap a shot of his next tirade.

“Photographers have tripped and fallen on babies in strollers on my block,” Baldwin wrote in an article for the Huffington Post. “They have nearly struck my wife in the face with microphones. They provoke me, daily, by getting dangerously close to me with their cameras as weapons, hoping I will react. When I do, the weapon doubles as a device to record my reaction. And then, apparently, I lose every time.”

Baldwin, and all celebrities, should not be subjected to this constant invasion of privacy.

Viewers can still watch “Paula’s Best Dishes” and enjoy her banter and cooking without thinking about how she said the n-word at some point in her life. The same can be said for Baldwin’s work. He has been a great actor for decades, and his career is what he allows the public to view. This should be what the public judges, not a celebrity’s private life.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Dec. 4 print edition. Sean Hickey is a contributing writer. Email him at


  • Felipe De La Hoz

    We cannot continue to reward people with lucrative jobs and a significant social presence when they have proven to be riddled with personal issues that need addressing. What kind of example would that be setting? It’s bad enough already that people like Chris Brown still have celebrated careers after they’ve hit their girlfriends or let their bodyguards loose on other people. While I would say that Baldwin’s actions are much more understandable, considering paparazzi are a category of sub-photographer that absolutely should be liable to be lashed at by their subjects, if Deen is truly racist then her amazing cooking becomes irrelevant. These people are role models, and they have to prove that they can be.

    • Sean Hickey

      I would agree that role models should not be partaking in such negative behavior. However the fact that Alec Baldwin and Paula Deen are even considered role models is part of the problem. Lucrative jobs are given to many immoral people but for whatever reason, people who work in front of a camera or on a stage are expected to be more than human. There are some instances where I believe you are absolutely correct though; a Disney star, for example, like Miley Cyrus who not only is a kid but whose goal it is to appeal to kids should not take liberties and act offensively. I would highly recommend Baldwin’s article in the Huffington Post. Thanks for reading!

Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

And in case you were wondering how great she really is — “I just can’t get enough of Tatiana” is a direct quote from her EIC at WSN only moments ago.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.