Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner testified in front of the California State Assembly Judiciary Committee yesterday on behalf of a proposed anti-paparazzi bill. We heard a few months ago that Berry was reaching out to Garner for help on this issue. A video clip of each of them speaking is above. The bill is specifically designed to protect children and would subject anyone who “Seriously alarms, annoys, torments or terrorizes a child” to fines and jail time. There’s already an anti-paparazzi law on the books in California, a 2010 amendment to a previous anti-stalking law. The law makes it illegal to attempt “to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy.” There’s more to it which you can read here (under section 1708.8).
It’s clear from the many incidents we’ve seen in California that the paparazzi don’t give a whit and/or that existing law isn’t being enforced. Hence this new bill designed to shield children. The bill passed and is now headed to the Appropriations Committee.
Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner appeared at the California State Capitol today to testify before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of a new bill that would modify the definition of harassment and, they believe, better protect their children.
Berry, 46, has a 5-year-old daughter, Nahla, with her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry and is expecting her first child with her new husband, French actor Olivier Martinez. The Oscar-winning actress said that during a custody battle over Nahla in which Aubry blocked her from moving to France with Martinez, paparazzi baited the child with taunting questions.
“‘How do you feel, Nahla? You may not see your father again. How do you feel about that?’” Berry said they would ask her child, adding that she had hoped to move to Europe to escape the constant media glare. “They say curse words and call me names, all trying to provoke some sort of response to sell a photograph.”
Naturally, her daughter is confused by the attention, and “doesn’t want to go to preschool anymore” because she’s always trailed, Berry said.
She’d ask, “‘Why did they say that to me, mommy? What does that mean? Who are these men and why are they following us?’” Berry said, before introducing fellow celeb mom Jennifer Garner. “We aren’t just whiny celebrities. … We’re moms who are just trying to protect our children.”
Garner, who said that a threatening stalker once trailed her with a crowd of photographers and hid behind her daughter’s school, cried when discussing the treatment of her family.
“I chose a public life … [but] my three children are private citizens,” she said. “I love my kids. They’re beautiful and sweet and innocent, and I don’t want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are all day every day to continue traumatizing my kids.”
After a lengthy debate, the bill passed.
“I hope this is a nice gift to you from this committee,” Bob Wieckowski, California State Assembly member and chairman of the committee that passed the bill, told Berry, acknowledging her birthday on Wednesday.
In the video clip from ABC News, above, Berry added that “We aren’t just whiny celebrities that many times people think we are. We’re moms here who are just trying to protect our children.” Garner said “The price paid for pictures of celebrity children is now absurdly high. They have a price placed on their heads every day. Being stalked has been hard for me but it’s beyond what a child should have to endure.”
I love how Halle Berry specifically referenced the “whiny celebrities” impression that many people have of her. Garner has spoken out against the paparazzi in the past, but only occasionally. She almost always plays along and she’s used the situation to her advantage definitely, but it’s clearly advanced beyond her control. Halle Berry has made it abundantly clear that she hates the paparazzi, although she’s not above staging photos when it suits her either. Whatever the case with these particular celebrities, it’s unacceptable for the paparazzi to harass or intimidate anyone, especially children. That’s outrageous that a photographer told little Nahla she wasn’t going to see her dad again. That’s just evil and unconscionable.
As Kaiser wrote in our past coverage on this, there’s a huge industry around celebrity parenting. People like Garner, Jessica Alba, and especially lower-echelon celebrities like various Real Housewives, Victoria’s Secret model moms and even LeAnn Rimes try to take advantage of it. The public wants to know how these celebrity moms manage their families and see how their kids are growing up. It shouldn’t be at the expense of their children’s well being by any means. This law may offer some much-needed protection for them.