Michael Hiltzik takes a sharp look at the recent legislation proposed by state assemblywoman Cindy Montanez to allow anyone (celebrity or civilian) to file suit against a paparazzo who “creates… a reasonable apprehension of offensive or harmful contact” in trying to get a candid celeb shot. Since (obviously) assault is already a crime, this law would allow celebrities to sue photographers even if their actions don’t meet the standards for criminal charges. Of course, this law would lead to an increased burden on our already over-taxed court system. So why not ask celebrities to fund it? Ultimately it is they who reap the benefits of the cultural production system which makes their photographs a commodity. Hiltzik thus proposes license fees for celebrityhood:
The California Celebrity Protection Act would state that any individual who has been the subject of three or more items in People, Us Weekly, the New York Post’s Page Six, or OK! Magazine over any six-week span must apply for and receive a state celebrity license before appearing in public. The fee would be $5,000, unless any of the articles was a cover story, in which case it would be $15,000. Two cover stories – $25,000, and so on.
We can be flexible: Those whose renown derives solely from TV reality shows would be eligible for junior six-month licenses, in recognition of their shorter fame arcs; for ex-TV sitcom stars attempting comebacks by hosting syndicated talk shows there might be provisional permits covering, say, the three-week period between their shows’ premieres and their return to the obscurity of infomercials.
Any venue hoping to establish itself as a celebrity hangout would also need a permit. Clubs might pay $50,000 for permission to have up to 10 licensed celebrities simultaneously on the premises between 10 p.m. and closing, although higher fees might be levied on venues where authorities deem the bathroom stalls sufficiently private to allow surreptitious drug use, especially by the underage siblings of actors and actresses appearing on teen dramas on Fox or the WB.
Sounds good to me!