|Statue of a paparazzo at Bratislava in Slovakia,|
Photo by Benmil222
I first came across the word, paparazzi, at the time of Princess Diana’s death in 1987. That was when the television news media reported the story of how vicious paparazzi, hungry for a scoop and itching to drop the princess into the hottest soup she had ever found herself in, all in the name of a good saleable photo op, tormented Princess Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed, and chased them to their deaths in a high-octane car chase in Paris, France.
In the days that followed, we also heard about how Diana had been hounded by the paparazzi ever since she became the Princess of Wales, how her every public moment was click-clicked, commented upon, written about, chewed, masticated and swallowed, all for the delight and pleasure of the reader-viewer-consumer.
What a life she must have led! What must it have been like to never be afforded a moment’s privacy, to always labour under the risk of having people sneak into your life in order to capture images of you at your most vulnerable state. I remember thinking then what a sad thing it was to be rich, and how sadder it was if you were royalty.
Paparazzi earned a bad name then. Subsequently some nations sort to make some sense of the mess in order to ensure that people, especially the rich and the famous, could have the right to live their own lives, without having cretins with cameras creeping into their lives.
Incidentally, the word paparazzi evolved from the name of a character in a film, La Dolce Vita, directed by Italian director Federico Fellini. The film’s lead character, Paparazzo, was a news photographer. Apparently, Fellini named the character after the word for mosquito in an Italian dialect. Fellini told Time magazine that the name Paparazzo brought a buzzing insect to his mind.
And that is exactly what the paparazzo has come to signify -- a mosquito that might hover around one constantly, an annoying insect that would dart around, waiting to strike and inflict damage.
Over time, the word entered the English language as a term for intrusive and pesky photographers that have no respect for anybody’s privacy or personal space.
I was reminded of the term again this morning. I read somewhere that Catherine Middleton is all set to give birth to her first child, sometime around July 11, the expected due date.
By this time, I expect, the respected members of the paparazzi have already come in early in order to secure squatting rights to the pavement outside the hospital or the palace.
Having the paparazzi wait to welcome the child into the world is certainly an omen of the kind of life that will be his or hers. The child’s grandparents, particularly on the paternal side, have suffered much at the hands of these pesky mosquitoes. Daddy’s younger brother has, in recent times, made some pretty colourful fodder out of his own life. The expectant mother has also had her own brush with the nuisance.
Being royal has its perks, but the colour purple can play spoilsport when it comes to enjoying the simpler pleasures of life.
I hope the little baby has a stab at a happy childhood, one involving Teletubbies and cartoon films, and goofing off at the park, and playing in the mud, and bedtime stories and mom and dad tucking the little one in for the night.
If only the paparazzi would lay off the little one and go chasing after reality TV aspirants!