Blush and Bashful

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I’ve been feeling kind of bad for taking a photo of an actress during a theatre performance… and posting it on my blog… and Facebook.

I was raised better than that. It’s just, the way things worked out…

  • there were no assigned seats so we had to sit in the very front row even though we got there 20 minutes early and I bought these tickets weeks ago.
  • the actress’s teenage fan club in front row center (we were front row, stage right) were taking photos with their phones the entire time.
  • I double-checked that the flash was off on my iPhone, and the sound had been off since I entered the theatre.
  • she was right in front of me and not involved in any action at the time.
  • the friend who was sitting right beside me did not realize I had taken a photo until I showed it to her at intermission.
  • I’m pretty sure famous actresses are used to that sort of thing.

We’ve had a little discussion of paparazzi photography in my Publishing Law class (what with the Royals and all), and I’m pretty sure my essay topic will somehow involve photo rights, so this is something I’m kind of curious about. Did I break any laws (copyright), or violate any rights (privacy), or was it simply bad theatre etiquette?

In my mind, I’m publicizing someone doing her job (well, I might add) in my immediate vicinity. I was certainly no more disruptive to the play than the members of the audience who kept chatting after the new scene had begun.

I also feel kind of creepy because I now follow the actress on Twitter, and her posts lately have been links to Instagram photos of places I recognize. It’s like delayed stalking – “Look! Mischa Barton was at the Claddagh on Friday! Oh, she visited the Cliffs of Moher today!”

I hope I’m not weirdly violating someone’s right to privacy. I rarely watched The OC, and someone had to tell me that she was in The Sixth Sense. (However, I swear I saw her on the cover of a Saddle Club book when I was working at Half Price Books, and that’s kind of an obsessive thing to notice – it was just so startling!)

I just think it’s cool she did a play here because I love theatre in Galway and it’s nice to see TV/film stars stretching their acting muscles on stage. And yes, I wanted my Facebook friends to see how I spent my Friday night, but “Mischa Barton in the Julia Roberts role” was only one part of that… it’s a pretty big deal to see one of the biggest movies of your childhood – set in the next state over, no less – brought back to life almost 30 years later in another country.

Still, I might have been feeling a little remorse when I walked into a church this morning. Unbeknownst to me, it was the day of a very special performance. So special, in fact, that there was a man holding a camera/videocamera hybrid who shot footage of the entire hour-and-half long service.

He photographed/filmed the congregation too. He took several up-close flash photos of me, and also captured my (stubbornly stoic) reactions on video. As a first-time visitor to that church, I am now going to play a supporting role in the home movies of several families, and I am no doubt featuring on someone’s Facebook feed at this very moment.

When the service was over, the man sitting behind me said: “Hope you’re prepared to have your photo shown all over the world.”

Karma, Ms. Barton.

Rear Window Ethics

Tonight I went to a screening of Rear Window, which stars Jimmy Stewart as a photographer with a broken leg and too much time on his hands. It uses the photographer’s eye to ask questions about the things we see when we look in on someone else’s private little world – where is the line between “public good” and “a nation of peeping toms?”

There is a very famous couple who launched some legal action last night, and though I’m not going to add fuel to the fire by naming names or linking to any photos, I will say that privacy laws in the UK are a very sticky wicket. We’ve already glossed over them in Publishing Law, and we’ll be devoting an entire class to the subject later in the semester. If I remember correctly, the right to privacy is granted in the US Constitution, but not England’s (or Ireland’s).

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