Adrian Grenier v. Teenage Paparazzo : A Parasocial Event

“you can sell your privacy, but you can never buy it back again.” – Bob Dylan
A quote sitting on the Teenage Paparazzo home page site.

When the hunted engage the hunters, do they get a clearer understanding of the dynamic?
“Why chase me? Why all of the cameras? ” Really?
is that a question? If there were no cameras, it would be weird. or worse: possible lack of interest.

C’mon now – We all have engaged in the guilty pleasure of celebrity gossip, whether it’s on the multiple “news” shows or the rags at dentist/doctor/hair places. Have we not all regaled tales of celebrity sightings or interactions, even if it’s only at best 6 degrees of separation ?
Let’s not limit it to TV or film stars. How about that band you loved, and the time you met one of the band members at the diner? Or was that your cousin it happened to?
The point is, we are all involved.

© Damon Webster – yep, the paps and Adrian Grenier at the premiere

It’s a symbiotic relationship that runs Hollywood. If the celebrity wants to be in the public eye the paparazzi are usually tipped off as to their whereabouts.
Of course sometimes, they are lying in wait at their homes. Creepy, for sure.
But it’s a business and everyone on both sides acknowledge that. Sometime it goes to far and sometimes it’s asked for.
This movie by actor and documentary filmmaker Adrian Grenier brings a unique perspective, because he is after all, one of the hunted.
The twist here amidst the adult money machine, is 13 year old Austin Visschedyk, who is determined to be a paparazzo.
His youth, good looks, and pro gear, get him into places and situations, that he maybe shouldn’t be.
He’s 13 people!! Staying out in Hollywood till 2-3 in the morning, stalking celebrities.
Fine, it pays better than a paper route, but where are the parents? In the movie we see them get interviewed and they seem to be OK with it all, as they’d rather let him go through this “phase”.

Well, the truth of the matter is that since the cameras topped rolling on the doc, he has traded in his bike and scooter to get him to the hot spots, and now drives a Range Rover.

© Damon Webster – Austin Visschedyk and his companion

This film has a viewpoint though. It’s not just a fallen youth turning pap, story.
Director Grenier has broken down the pap/celeb scene in a way no one else really could.
Sure, the kid is a great angle, but what the actor does is get behind the scenes and examines the motivations, even to the point of becoming a pap himself, and remains incognito as long as he can.
The other photogs in the film felt he was and intruder and were incredibly wary, but then let him in enough to let the story have some truth. Those revealing interviews are another meaty part of the film.
The ever changing relationship between director and subject shifts notably throughout the piece, and Mr. Grenier had a great calming handle on the relationship.
This is, after all, a teenager he is dealing with.
One of the main points for us was the introduction of the concept of parasocial :” The term “parasocial interaction” was coined to describe one-sided relationships in which one party knows a great deal about the other, but the relationship is not reciprocal . Such relationships are typified in the one-sided link between most celebrity performers and their fans”
When I asked Adrian about this point he basically laid it out in 3 parts – “parasite, parasocial, Paris Hilton.”
Although perhaps tongue-in-cheek with his delivery, the thread is very obvious.

As we are about to see Social Network come on the screens, examining all of our fascination with our lives and those of others, the timing of this film is well played.
Not just an good guy/bad guy story, but one of self examination. Something to consider the next time the news leads off with Lindsay Lohan being released from jail.
Wait…..that just happened. again.

© Damon Webster – you can see why I’m not a pap

Check out the site for the movie as there is some fun stuff for you to play with.
How about making your own gossip magazine cover? Or one for a “friend”

Playing now on HBO, we hope that a DVD will be in the offing.
Teenage Paparazzo is the second documentary from director Adrian Grenier.

Yes, he is Vinnie Chase from Entourage.

And if you’d like to revisit the tools of the trade for the paparazzi, here is one of our earlier videos, with Henry Flores of BuzzPhoto

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