Following the American Paparazzi
at the Downey Trial
July 16, 2001, was yet another day standing outside the courthouse in Riverside County waiting for the man whose name has become synonymous with drug rehab and Proposition 36. There are the reporters, the fans, the supporters and law enforcement sitting around chatting with one another. You might think everyone was dear friends if not for their uniforms and tools of the trade.
Then without warning a dark car pulls up. The friendships are severed as reporters vie for position. Fans are trampled and pushed against a wall. The local law enforcement must fight their way to the car in order to accompany the defendant into the courtroom.
Robert Downey, Jr., emerges from the dark sedan, just the same. Cameras are only inches away from his face and body as he attempts to head for the double glass doors of the courthouse. Reporters crush everything between the car and the doors. No human, let alone any plant, that gets in their way will survive. Camera people on top of camera people. They yell at one another to get out of the way. Clawing and pushing as though they were a pack of wolves seeing a raw steak for the first time.
As the slender, classy actor walks to his destination, he is able to stroll into the courtroom as though nothing is taking a place around him.
As Mr. Downey and escort near their objective, to get inside the court, reporters find themselves crashing in to the building that will soon become Downey's only shield. As though one is playing with dominos, each reporter begins to back into the other. Words fly under their breath as not to be caught on camera. Any bystanders that fail to move out of their way are slammed between the wall and the cameras. They are crushed to within an inch of their life.
Downey slips behind the glass doors and never looks back. The reporters attempt to get their last shots of Robert as he disappears behind the wooden doors of the court. As the reporters begin to settle down, they again become the best of friends.
However, something seriously needs to be noted here. In attending every court hearing since Mr. Downey's November 2000 arrest, 95% of the reporters only appear when Mr. Downey appears. The story is of no interest unless Robert, himself, is at court. The American Paparazzi only come to get his picture. It is a game.
This game has already cost a Princess her life. It has ruin and strained relationships among couples. It has caused untold suicides. This is not reporting a news story at all. This is pure invasion of a person's personal space. Is it any less of a picture of Mr. Downey when taken at 2 feet away? Would you as a reader or viewer see any less?
Remember we are not talking about news-breaking story, or a news report that could change the world. We are talking about a celebrity who only wants to walk from his car to a courtroom and back again, freely. Is that too much to ask?