Dax Shepard, an actor I am most familiar with as the husband of Kristin Bell, wrote this piece at huffingtonpost.com about a cause they are both passionate about, the intrusion of photographers into the lives of celebrity children, prompted by incidents that have recently occurred with their own baby. They have called for a boycott of all magazines that solicit and pay for pictures taken by paparazzi. Shepard and Bell have also promoted this cause on Twitter which is where I became familiar with it because I have been following Bell for the past few months. (Full disclosure, although I have never met her, she was an acquaintance of my niece and sister-in-law before she was famous back in Michigan and also I am a fan of Veronica Mars and, well, the sloth thing,
It seems like a clear enough issue, and as Shepard acknowledges in his piece, not the biggest problem in the world and certainly not a problem most of us will ever have to worry about personally. At the end of the piece he replies to a few of the negative responses he and Kristin have received on Twitter, because if you’re famous you can’t put anything on Twitter that won’t get somebody’s dander up.
Ricky Gervais, another celebrity I follow on Twitter, promotes ending animal cruelty. He always gets angry tweets from individuals who think other issues, namely the issues they care about, are more important.
Could we just stop with this sort of response, and acknowledge that life is a complex and twisted mess and that we, as humans, need to work on a lot of different issues that intertwine, and whose solutions are perhaps intertwined as well, and that caring about minor issues doesn’t mean we don’t care about major ones, and that even if we could all agree on what the #1 problem was, and all worked exclusively on fixing that, we might not be able to fix it, or, if we did fix it, our inattention to all of the other issues might make the world a worse place than it was before we started, and that, dropping the ball on all of those other issues might even make fixing the #1 problem impossible to begin with? Poverty, infrastructure, education, the environment, jobs, animal rights, civil and women’s rights, clean air and water, sustainable energy, hunger, freedom of speech, religious freedom and freedom from religion, music, art, tolerance, civility, and common decency, they’re all connected on some level, don’t you think?
The negative tweets Shepard selected for response are full of hostility and appear motivated by self-righteousness (other causes are more important) and jealousy (rich actors should be grateful they don’t have real problems). Here’s one that encapsulates both self-righteousness AND jealousy:
"There are way more important things to boycott than your rich kid getting her picture taken."
This tweeter is apparently of the opinion you can only boycott one purveyor of injustice at a time. As in, gosh, I’d like to boycott US magazine but I can’t because I’m boycotting Monsanto, which is more important. I’m here to tell you you can boycott US magazine AND Monsanto, if you want. And more. You can lead a life in which you oppose all injustices, large AND small. Really. It’s like walking and chewing gum at the same time. You can handle it. Even though the privacy of celebrity children is an issue you might not be passionate about, one that doesn’t affect you personally in any way, what reason outside of petty jealousy and selfishness can you offer for being opposed to it? It’s not like you’re being asked to march in front of hostile rock-throwing crowds while being sprayed by fire-hose wielding police in riot gear. Just boycott the offending magazines. Not only does it take NO effort, it actually takes less effort than you already expend if you happen to be one of those people who actually goes to the store to buy those magazines. You’ll save a little money too.
Maybe, until this thing gets settled, you can fill the void in your life by taking pictures of other people’s children in your own neighborhood. especially people and children you don’t know personally. I’m sure they’ll all be thrilled to cooperate and won’t feel their privacy is being violated in any way.