Lessons from Kate’s ‘Marilyn moment’

Lessons from Kate's 'Marilyn moment'

Teachable moment sometimes shows up unpredictably and I want to turn Kate’s ‘Marilyn moment’ and Sun News’ discussion video into a lesson, at least for me.

Let me try to derive some lessons by asking four questions,

Q1) Do the Royals, when being photographed at public events, deserve more rights than other Canadian public figures?
Q2) Did the press overstep their role to report?
Q3) Is the photo obscene?
Q4) Was the photo taken in an inappropriate manner?

Q1) Do the Royals, when being photographed at public events, deserve more rights than other Canadian public figures?

A1) No. I believe in equality. If we have no problem publishing a similar photo of a movie/tv star in a public event, we shouldn’t have problem with similar photos of the royals. Period. The Cambridges, when they are in Canada, deserve the same (no more, no less) rights when photographed as other public figures.

Q2) Did the press overstep their role to report?

A2) No. The press weren’t there as part of the propaganda machine of the royals. They were there to report as they see fit, they were there to do their job.

Q3) Is the photo obscene?

A3) Even under the Canadian broadly defined “obscene”, I doubt the photo will be defined as obscene by our courts. In fact, the more I look at the photo, the more it looks tasteful. Of course, “tasteful” is my own variation of the “I know it when I see it” test.

Q4) Was the photo taken in an inappropriate manner?

A4) To me, this is an important question. How did the photographer, QMI Agency’s national photographer Andre Forget, take the photograph in question? Here is how Forget’s account of what happened (emphasis added),

Forget said they were walking back to the chopper on the wind-whipped tarmac for a group photo with the crew, accompanied by an Air Force officer and an aide carrying a pair of white cowboy hats presented minutes earlier by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

As her bright yellow skirt skittered, the former Catherine Elizabeth Middleton hastily reached for the hem in a bid to stall a cheeky exposé.

Despite her quick efforts, the wayward wind revealed the leggy royal brunette was wearing a thong beneath her frock.

It wasn’t until after he sent editors other digital photos of the royal couple’s second-last day in Canada that Forget realized he’d captured two skirt-raising images with his digital camera.

Similar photos from other news agencies are now circling the globe.

When you’re shooting, you don’t even know you have a picture, because your camera’s interior mirror goes up,” Forget said Friday. [Kempton’s note: This is important.]

After I sent other photos, I looked at the images again and there was Kate showing almost all,” he said. “It all happened within two or three seconds, when the wind exposed her derriere.” [Kempton’s note: This is important again. Forget didn’t purposefully tried to take compromising photos of Kate.]”

From the photo, we can clearly tell Andre Forget took the picture at a normal angle and he didn’t lay on the ground and shooting up at Kate’s skirt for sure! Andre Forget, as QMI Agency’s national photographer, shot many other beautiful photos during the royal tour.

When presented with the photos, I think Toronto Sun made the right thing in publishing the photo instead of self-censoring and worrying about retaliation from the royal family or the Canadian government. To me, the photo is totally within journalistic bound.

I personally think Ricky Gervais describes the “gutter press” most insightfully when playing Andy Millman in Extras. Here are his lines (close enough even they aren’t word for word 100% right) which I retrieved from Extras’ Wikiquote (emphasis added). (note: I am aware of the paradoxical setup in using these quotes to talk about “gutter press” but I still think they are illuminating.)

Andy : […] They follow us round, and that makes people think they’re important, and that makes us think we’re important. [Maggie sits up] If they stopped following us round taking pictures of us, people wouldn’t take to the streets going, “Ooh, quick, I need a picture of Cameron Diaz with a pimple!” They wouldn’t care. They’d get on with something else! They’d get on with their lives. You open the paper, and you see a picture of Lindsay Lohan getting out of a car, and the headline is, “Cover up, Lindsay, we can see your knickers!” Course you can see her knickers; your photographer is lying in the road pointing his camera up her dress to see her knickers! You are literally the gutter press. [loudly, into his microphone] And fuck you that make us this show as well. You can’t wash your hands of this. You can’t keep going, “Oh, it’s exploitation but it’s what the public want!” No! [Maggie watches openmouthed] The Victorian freak show never went away. Now it’s called Big Brother. Or The X Factor, where in the preliminary rounds, we wheel out the bewildered to be sniggered at by multi-millionaires. And fuck you for watching this at home. Shame on you. And shame on me. I’m the worst of all, ’cause I’m one of these people that goes, “Oh, I’m an entertainer. It’s in my blood.” Yeah, it’s in my blood ’cause a real job’s too hard. I would’ve loved to’ve been a doctor. Too hard. Didn’t want to put the work in. Love to be a war hero; I’m too scared.”

As I did in my 2010 Banff World TV Festival video interview with Ricky, I included the video clip of the above segment on Extras to illustrate and explain. Here is the famous clip again. Enjoy.

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