Picture this: you’re walking down a street, straining under the weight of your supermarket shop and a random guy comes up to you and asks: ‘I don’t normally do this, but can I take a selfie with you?’
What’s your instinctive reaction?
a.) Sure! Come on over! Give us a hug!
b.) Ooh, errr, I dunno…
c.) No effing way.
I know what mine would be – the latter. I don’t like being photographed by people I know, and I would never let a stranger take my picture. I don’t even like it when someone is photographing someone else on the street and I can see it’s likely I’ll end up in the background.
I don’t think I’m weird – or alone – in thinking this.
This is why I find it baffling that so many of us feel it’s ok to go up to celebrities to ask them to pose for a picture with us. We might know who they are, but do any of them know us?
This issue was brought into the fore recently when Jennifer Lawrence told The Daily Telegraph Australia that she refuses to take selfies with fans. ‘I think that people [strangers] think that we already are friends because I am famous and they feel like they already know me – but I don't know them,’ she said.
‘I have to protect my bubble, like, ‘I have a weird job - don't let this be a reality,’ she added.
It made me really consider our culture of celebrity selfie snapping, and how any of us could think it’s actually acceptable.
Celebrities are famous. Because of this, we assume they like (and want to be) recognised. So by asking them for a selfie, we assume we’re doing what they want us to do – recognising them.
Celebrities also attend parties and star in modelling campaigns. This means they often have their photograph taken. This again leads us to believe this is what they like. So when we see them IRL, asking them for a snap is something we think they’d be only too eager to agree to.
Let us for a minute consider the things we do at work, which are part of our job and which we might sometimes enjoy, but which we wouldn’t enjoy doing every minute of our lives. Such as, entertaining clients. We might enjoy hosting a lunch and getting the afternoon out of the office and eating at a fancy restaurant. But if someone asked us to do it on a weekend, a bank holiday Monday or on Christmas Eve, we might not be as enthusiastic.
Take another example, like, presenting the month’s successes to the rest of the team. We might love boasting about our achievements on a Tuesday afternoon, but if required to do so on a Sunday morning, our eagerness, hmm, probably non-existent.
My point is, celebrities might love having their picture taken when they’re prepared and ‘at work’ and on the red carpet or at an event. But when they're not working, it might be, you know, BLOODY IRRITATING.
Next problem with it is, as JLaw identifies, we might be fans, but we’re also strangers. And they’re rich. How do they know that when we’re angling our smartphone to get the perfect snap, our other hand isn’t reaching into their pocket to make off with their wallet? How do they know we’re going to write a complimentary caption to accompany our VIP Instagram snap, one that says: ‘Look who I bumped into!’ and not something derogatory like, ‘Not so pretty now is she?!’
The answer is, they don’t. And based on these non-assurances, why the heck should they trust us?
In the aforementioned interview, JLaw also said she’s started to become ‘really rude and drawn into myself’. I imagine this is because she’s sick of having to, politely, tell people to BACK OFF.
It is wrong of us to assume that because we think they're good at their job, we‘re justified in going up to a celebrity – childhood hero or otherwise – to ask them for a photograph. And if our egos are such that we deem it OK to ignore their fundamental human right for privacy, we should accept the consequences of being told to go the f&*$ away.