Paris Jackson and media sharks: Give the girl a break

Published: June 7, 2013
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Being the eldest of her siblings, Paris Jackson had to bear the brunt of the increased public attention and it seems that she struggled to cope with it. PHOTO: AFP

The alleged suicide attempt of Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris, has once again thrown the Jackson family into the spotlight (as if it didn’t have enough of it already). Reports suggest that Paris Jackson attempted suicide because she was not allowed to attend a Marilyn Manson concert. However, there are many underlying factors that could lead to such an incident – the  least of which was the concert.

I believe it has more to do with the overzealous media attention and attacks on her privacy in the name of celebrity journalism.

Anyway, Paris is safe in the hospital and her family is pleading for privacy.

It is widely known that Michael Jackson had kept his children, Paris, Prince and Blanket, away from the glare of the camera to the best of his abilities. So much so that whenever Jackson and his kids went out, the children would put on masks. Through this measure Jackson wanted to shield them from the prying eyes of the media- that is until his untimely death.

With their father dead, Paris, Prince and Blanket, the once elusive kids were thrust into public spotlight, with their every move covered by media. Paris Jackson had to bear the brunt of this increased public attention and it seems that she struggled to cope with it. Some reports suggest, this is not her first suicide attempt.

She has obviously lead a troubled life. Being there when Michael Jackson was lying on the floor near-death after overdosing on medication pills; being a witness in a lawsuit against AEG Live (concert management company), reports of bullying at school and on Twitter, news reports on new molestation claims on her deceased father and constantly being under media spotlight, it’s a little wonder that she seems to have cracked under pressure. The media is needlessly creating hype over an issue that is very personal for the Jackson family – they want privacy, give them privacy.

It is true that celebrities are public figures with huge responsibilities, because they have the power to influence their fans, but the way they are hounded by journalists and paparazzi all the time is un-called for. Celebrity or no celebrity, your private life is yours and media should understand this.

The suicide attempt of Paris Jackson (coincidentally, weeks before Michael’s 4th death anniversary) calls into question the role of the so called celebrity-news industry. Organizations like TMZ and legions of gossip columnists are doing nothing but indulging in useless celebrity chinwag, sharing their intimate photos, vigorously dissecting their interviews, tailing them every time they step out of their homes in hopes of getting much prized shots of celebrities or one of their family tripping on the road, having an altercation with a police officer or having wardrobe malfunctions.

Is this the path where journalism is headed towards?

No doubt people like the Kardashians or Amanda Bynes are revered in the celebrity journalism business because of their penchant to remain needlessly in the spotlight, but they clearly do not reflect the life styles of other stars. There are many stars who just don’t appreciate cameras following them to toilets, grocery stores or when they take their families out for picnics.

Celebrity journalists have to take a breather and reflect on how their actions effect celebrities and their families. Another point that needs to be highlighted is that, celebrity-journalism is only catering to the demands of public who have a growing need to know everything about their stars. Jeremy King, editor of Media Week says:

“The incessant need of the public to know what every celebrity is doing is phenomenal”.

Adding further he says:

“Ironically, this same public are equally outraged when it comes to normal civilians having their private lives publicly played out.”

The Paris Jackson episode is a wakeup call for both the information hungry public and celebrity journalism industry. Journalists have to draw a line when it comes to ethics over reporting on personal troubles of celebrities and fans need to realise the privacy of their stars. There is a need for laws to be enacted to protect the privacy of stars and this not only applies in USA but equally throughout the world.

Read more by Jamaluddin here or follow him on Twitter @einsjam 

Correction: This blog earlier stated that Paris is Michael Jackson’s eldest child. The error is regretted.

Jamaluddin

Jamaluddin

A student of Information Systems Management at Latrobe University, Melbourne. He tweets @Einsjam (twitter.com/Einsjam)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.