Michael Ochs

Above: Elton John drinking alcohol. Credit: Michael Ochs.

Passer-by Paparazzo

Elton John commented this week on his experience of being a famous person in the Digital Era: "I hate mobile phones--camera phones. I don't go out anymore. There's no privacy anymore. When I started out there were no mobile phones, [and] no kind of paparazzi, [so] we had it so easy. You could afford to be out of your mind and behave extraordinarily badly in public and no one would be able to take a photograph--which I did many times! Unfortunately that's all changed with the advent of technology. Going out [to parties, nightclubbing, etc.] is now an effort." As John explains, the dedicated full-time celebrity-chasing paparazzo photographer is no longer any great anxiety: in the age of the smartphone, any passer-by has the potential to metamorphose into a paparazzo celeb-snapper at any moment. As legendary London pap, Richard Young, recently commented, ".... all I know is that it [my career as a pap] could never happen again. What's the difference between then [1970s-1990s] and now? Then it was easy. Now everyone has a camera, everyone takes pictures ... everyone." In the transformed scene of the Digital Revolution, the famous are obliged to moderate their behaviour because of the ubiquity of the pocket-computer smartphone. In the twentieth century, a celebrity who claimed to see paparazzo photographers everywhere, would have been adjudged "too paranoid." In the twenty-first century, the iPhoneographer-paparazzi are legion, illimitable, literally omnipresent (SOED: present in all places at the same time). The same celebrity making the same comment in 2018 would merely be stating an acknowledged fact.

(10 May 2018)