Gigi Hadid's open letter to paparazzi is a lesson in celebrity entitlement
Gigi Hadid has always seemed like a genuinely nice person, but even genuinely nice people make ill advised moves.
Gigi’s comes in the form of a lengthy post on Instagram in which she denounces the paparazzi for underestimating the “mental/emotional toll” being photographed constantly can take. So far, so good.
It’s not earth shattering for celebrities to complain about being hounded by photographers and no one in their right mind would inflict undue stress on anyone - famous or not. However, the idea that Gigi, a woman who willingly became a model and is literally photographed as part of her job description, complaining about the type of photography she’s subject to, is frustrating.
Hadid said she is being sued for re-publishing an image on her Instagram which she doesn’t hold the copyright to and seems genuinely shocked that this is the case.
“Yesterday I heard from my management that I am being ‘legally pursued for my last (now deleted) Instagram post,” Gigi starts. “The photo is by a Paparazzi & is of me on the street outside an event last week.
“For someone to take a situation where I was trying to be open, and sue me for a photo I FOUND ON TWITTER (with no photographers name on the image), for a photo he has already been paid for by whatever outlet put it online (!!!), is absurd…if the person had just commented on my photo I would have been happy to tag and give credit.”
A person’s work is their work. You don’t have to agree with the merits of the paparazzi to understand that this is how someone makes a living and the instant that someone else devalues that work (by sharing it with 43 million people on Instagram), their income stream has been cut off. Not to mention that with numbers like hers, the value of her social reach is well into the hundreds of thousands.
She benefits from this working relationship with the paparazzi to support her commercial deals, wearing sent-for-free clothes from designers who want the exposure of a Hadid-endorsed street style picture and the potential impact her unofficial endorsement can have on their sales.
You know those tiny Matrix-style sunglasses that you can’t escape on the high street? It was Gigi and her sister Bella that made that trend as impactful as it’s been and they did it through paparazzi pictures.
This statement, a rare public misstep, encapsulates the brand of celebrity entitlement of 2018. While the world has finally embraced open conversation across industries (modelling included) to encourage safe practices and promote hospitable workplaces; celebrities haven’t quite grasped the concept that there is still only a finite amount of sympathy in the world and they are not at the top of the list as recipients.
In comparison, her good friend Kendall Jenner rightfully targeted TMZ for sharing pictures of her home, sharing with near pinpoint accuracy its location, as an invasion of privacy - which she says is directly linked to the three stalkers who have trespassed on the grounds of her home already this year.
That is a legitimate gripe and a dangerous realisation of when it goes too far. Similarly, Bella rightfully hit out at a photographer whose work was published on websites last year of her inside her apartment, rightfully labelling it an invasion of her privacy and saying it was “time to move” after.
Khloe Kardashian, a woman who has featured in five different reality shows documenting her personal life and has a full-time glam squad for the eventuality of the awaiting paparazzi, echoed her support, saying: “Perfectly said! I was sued for HUNDREDS of thousands for posting a picture of myself. I don’t understand how it’s right that they literally stalk us and taunt us AND they are allowed to sue us for posting OUR OWN PHOTO.”
But it isn’t your photo. It’s someone else’s and the paparazzi don’t actually work for you.
Copyright law can be complex at times, but on this occasion it’s simple. And it’s kind of infuriating for connoisseurs of celebrity culture, of which, maybe sadly, I am one.
Critics often remind privileged stars you can’t have it both ways and this idea of complete public ownership in exchange for fame is slowly disintegrating, but sometimes you just have to accept when you’re wrong, no matter how hard you want to be right. And this is one of those times.