“I do think and I do hope that there will at some point be laws about how close they can get to children with cameras,” Angelina Jolie to Larry King when asked about the effect paparazzi have on her life. Jolie’s idea is good public policy and probably the first thing in years that celebrities could lobby Congress on with a legitimate voice.
Celebrities spend an exorbitant amount of their time championing legislation and policy about which they are unqualified to serve as spokespeople, let alone as lobbyists. Lobbying requires a knowledge base about the subject matter, an ability to be credible, and have a modicum of passion. Although celebrities are passionate about their cause they are hardly knowledgeable.
Sure, anybody can read talking points, but when celebrities testify they are rarely in a position to counter arguments against their positions and when they lobby it is hardly credible as the legislation typically has no impact on these millionaires. The truth is that most of Washington views celebrity lobbyists the same way they view children lobbyists – cute and worthwhile to have a picture taken, but not actually lobbyists.
Jolie’s law is a different beast than the average cause celeb. Jolie’s law – to limit the ability for the paparazzi to harm innocent children is a topic in which celebrities could serve as credible lobbyists. Every celebrity has seen the danger the paparazzi poses to their family and they are passionate about limiting the paparazzi’s reach. Celebrities are the most directly affected by such a law so they serve an important role as passionate, credible, and affected constituency with an informed argument.
One of the traps of most celebrity advocacy is the lack of any serious movement on the legislation they support. When was the last time you saw a celebrity at a Presidential bill signing? I can’t think of any because celebrity supported pet policy rarely sees the light of day. Contrast this with previous paparazzi laws where celebrities successfully served as lobbyists on winning legislation and the Jolie law could actually stand a chance.
In the last few years, California has passed two anti-paparazzi laws. Although each isn’t particularly strong at least they passed and celebrities could demonstrate a track record of living legislation which would encourage lawmakers to take a stab at the Jolie law.
Another typical celebrity advocacy disaster is that celebrities can’t seem to shed their liberal leanings and almost always attach themselves to partisan legislation. Bipartisan legislation always has a better chance of passing and the Jolie law could serve as a model. Conservative family advocacy groups who typically rail against bad Hollywood values should be a partner on this type of legislation which would reduce the paparazzi culture -- which is anything but family friendly.
Celebrities should mobilize on this type of legislation, learn a little bit about lobbying, and hit the Hill in a bipartisan, informed, passable stab at advocacy which could change their lives.