Celebrity culture. Love it or hate it, it is here to stay. Paparazzi have made a multi-million dollar industry out of snapping the most intimate photographs of the rich and famous. These photographs are consumed en masse by a society whose lives may not be as perfect or as eventful as the ones portrayed in the glossy magazines. It is voyeurism and escapism wrapped in one expendable package.
Those at the focus of the lens, like Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Lopez, have a drastically different perception of the paparazzi photographing them and the overarching celebrity culture that invites and promotes this sort of attention.
When all of a sudden you are hearing rumors that are not true on the CNN crawl...you sort of go 'this is CNN!' says Aniston in the trailer for the film $ellebrity, a documentary about celebrity culture and the perils involved that premiered at South by Southwest in March.
Aniston's life has been under the microscope since she rose to fame on Friends. That intensity of that microscope's view increased tenfold when she married, then divorced, actor Brad Pitt.
Directed by celebrity photographer Kevin Mazur, the film takes a look at both side of the spectrum - from the point of the photographed and the photographers, the consumed and the consumers, the famous and the fame-makers.
Who makes them famous? asks Australian paparazzo, media personality and entrepreneur. Well, actually I do. They're reliant on the paparazzi.
So exposed. There's no mystery, says Lopez, who appears in $ellebrity with now ex-husband Marc Anthony. Lopez is no stranger to the tabloids. From the nightclub shooting saga with P. Diddy (then Puff Daddy) to her many failed relationships to her new boy toy, Lopez's life is headline fodder.
Celebrity is the disease of our culture, says actress Patricia Arquette in the $ellebrity trailer. Sarah Jessica Parker agrees, It's a scary feeling. Sheryl Crow says, You can't even argue with somebody about the ethics of it.
Celebrity photographs can be worth into the millions of dollars; the more degrading and damaging, oftentimes, the better.
Our celebrity images are supposed to be seamless, says one commentator in the trailer. But when those cracks open, it's kind of dirty but it is also fascinating.
One of the stories highlighted is that of pop star, Britney Spears. Spears became an American obsession when her debut album, ...Baby One More Time, dropped in 1998. The blonde beauty instantly clenched the title of the nation's Pop Princess and then the whole world could not take its eyes off her. Spears' fame was a roller coaster of ups and downs -- her break-up with Justin Timberlake, hard-partying, weight gain, her relationship with Kevin Federline and her subsequent downfall.
In February 2007, Spears cracked. Whether it was her failed relationship with the father of her children, her personal demons, or the pressure of fame, the young mother had had enough.
You just sit back and watch, said another in $ellebrity.
But for many, it is hard to commiserate with the likes of Aniston, Lopez or Parker.
It's [$ellebrity] pretty good. If you're into listening to constantly pampered rich people who own mansions in LA and penthouses in New York whine about how hard their lives are because photographers want to take pictures of them, writes The Blemish blogger Vitor. Oh boo, hoo. You're paid millions of dollars to read lines off a piece of paper or, in Kid Rock's case, perform terrible music, and you're complaining because normal people care enough about you to create a demand for your pictures. Woe is you. Someone call the wahhmbulance.
Of course there's no mention of celebrities who fly under the radar like Christian Bale and Johnny Depp and stay pretty well hidden unless they need to promote a film.
Check out the $ellebrity trailer below.