Aside from disdain for paparazzi, which is nothing new, I guess in the book I’m trying to say that each one has a story. Although many (most?) are despicable bottom feeders, a lowlife society is a fertile place to set a story about redemption. Hardwick is probably the exception but what I wanted to say about him in the paparazzi setting is that, as with mobsters in the Godfather and sleazy detectives in Chinatown, there are individuals who have moral standards. It may be their own personal standards but they have them, and if those principles are strongly held, those guys are bound to collide with the greater sleaze: the established order, which is the clean-shaven, groomed and manicured embodiment of corruption and immorality. So I guess I juxtaposed one with the other and had my man Hardwick be the one who held the higher standard at a price.
Does anyone actually grow up aspiring to, one day, be part of the paparazzi?
You ask strange and difficult questions. I like that. You’re actually getting at how I put Hardwick among them. I made him a fallen Pulitzer Prize-winning-photojournalist who was only doing it because the alternatives weren’t there for him once he lost his standing in the mainstream press. It was that or shooting graduation and wedding photos. His rationale is that he is still “doing journalism.” It’s the circumstances of the detective story in the book combined with the appearance of his old love Meddy that rubs his nose in the stink of his rationale. So then it’s time for him to either do journalism for real or stop conning himself.
Going back to your specific question, though, I think today, because of the dollars at stake, more and more young men and women with cameras are following aspirations to do work in the exciting field of the paparazzi. Mainly because the national Do Not Call List has limited their opportunities in telemarketing.
What would you say to someone who wanted to become part of the paparazzi?
That’ll work, won’t it? Okay, if you insist, I’d say: Document but don’t invade. See but don’t chase. Shoot if you must but leave the kids out of it. And, finally, before you press that shutter release, ask yourself, “How big an asshole am I?”