Paparazzi has been a long-time problem in many larger cities where celebrities are trying to live and maintain some kind of privacy. From New York to LA, it seems to be an ongoing problem. A celebrity steps outside their door with their children in tow to go out for ice cream and from across the street, from behind a bush or a sign, the cameras start flashing – with our without the knowledge of the celebrity. It has gotten so bad as a matter-of-fact, that last year (2013) Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner testified before Congress in favor of a paparazzi bill that will protect their children. The bill (SB 606) was created to change the legal definition of “harassment” to include any conduct that “alarms, annoys, torments or terrorizes” a child while photographing or recording that child without express parental consent. The bill passed, was written into California State Law and went into effect January 1 of this year.
Now there is the question of whether or not the paparazzi moving to Nashville will detrimentally change Nashville as we know it.
Though many assume the paparazzi movement could never permeate our fair city, so many artists and celebrities have moved here seeking privacy within our welcoming walls that there is now some speculation that it won’t be long before our famed and treasured privacy vanishes.
That being said, a full-fledged paparazzi town may never take effect, either – for the simple fact that our city has always prided itself on being a “paparazzi-free zone.”
Further, our city is a little spread out, so there are still many remote places where people in the public eye can roam with little or no scrutiny. Should it arise, the problem may be for those who wish to shop or eat “in-town.” And since that’s where the majority of cool shops and restaurants are, it’s always a slight possibility that it could become a problem.
What do our hometown celebrities think?
Many believe, as country music artist Craig Campbell does, that “paparazzi in Music City won’t get out of control.” According to a brief interview of Campbell conducted by Nashville’s NewsChannel 5, Campbell was quoted as saying, “I don’t think Nashville will allow it. If it does,… I feel like someone will put together a paparazzi revolution.” NewsChannel 5 interviewed Campbell after he’d been approached by TMZ earlier this year on the street outside of Winner’s in downtown Nashville. As our readers are likely all too aware, TMZ is a nationally-based gossip website and paparazzi group that moved to town back in 2011.
For years on end, Nashville has had an unwritten rule. No paparazzi. We pride ourselves on giving people their privacy and their freedom, famous or not.
But also for years on end, it seems that our way of living life among celebrities has been relatively unknown. Or at least, it has not been given much thought by the national gossip mills. Just like everything else we have close at hand, we sometimes don’t fully appreciate things we assume will always be there. So perhaps because Nashville has always offered this safe haven of refuge for artists and their families, very little thought was given to it by those who were enjoying it.
Now however, with the paparazzi being more intrusive in places like LA and New York, Nashville has become the place to be. Thanks to Nashville and its residents having developed a reputation for “leaving our celebrities alone,” the word has spread, and artists and celebrities from all over the world now choose Nashville as their home. And it is no wonder. They can drive carpool, attend Parent’s Nights at school, and cheer from the sidelines if their children are participating in school sports. They can go out to eat, attend sporting events, even get groceries – and all with very little or no interruption.
If you go back to when country music really “hit it big” on the national scene, native Nashvillians have been living with our “famous folk” for many generations. As a small little tide-pool separated from the big wide ocean of celebrity-stalking, Nashville has quietly continued to grow with our ease among those with famous faces. It doesn’t take too many times seeing a celebrity in the grocery store or a restaurant that it becomes routine. Granted, we all may fall victim to sneaking a second glance on occasion, but you have to admit – Nashville takes care of its own. We pride ourselves on the motto, “live and let live.” We’ve become the very type of place that fame seemingly defines as impossible – a place to live an ordinary life.
We have Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, Alan and Denise Jackson, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams, and the list goes on.
Sheryl Crow moved here for the very purpose of being able to live a “normal” life with her kids. Grammy-nominated British singer/songwriter (and recent duet partner for Taylor Swift) Ed Sheeran now calls Nashville home and feels our city is full of truly nice people, which, of course, is completely true.
And there are others we have lured in with our genuinely hospitable charm and who have decided to stay – names like Jack White, The Black Keys, and several members of the cast of “Nashville.” Hayden Panettiere has stated that she now has a sense of “normalcy” back in her life.
It seems that, once these celebrities set foot in Nashville and realize just what a “we’ve got your back” kind of community we have created here, they don’t want to step back to wherever they are from. This is all okay with us, of course. We welcome our celebrities with open arms and are also very open to giving them their solitude. That is, all of us who are aware of the longtime “rule.”
And we here at Sports & Entertainment Nashville have been talking with artists for a while now – all who claim that Nashville is a place that has all the cool things that other cities have but where they can still have their privacy and a “normal” life, too. Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Vince & Amy, and Luke Bryan have all commented on the joys of living “normal in Nashville” in our paparazzi-free zone. Even our own iconic Taylor Swift has been quoted as saying that Nashville is one of the few places she can go without paparazzi capturing her every move.
We now have to wonder how long that will be the case.
So, what are your thoughts?
Will we, as a community, be able to continue dwelling with our celebrity friends and neighbors in tranquil serenity or will paparazzi change our ways? Will our famous neighbors eventually be forced to hide, or do you feel as Craig Campbell does, that “…someone will put together a paparazzi revolution,” and that Nashvillians – celebs and non – will prevail over paparazzi?
Please comment and let us know what you think. We’re anxious to hear what you have to say!