Skip to main content

Alec Baldwin, you can fight back

By David R. Wheeler
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1707 GMT (0107 HKT)
Alec Baldwin is taken into custody by New York police after allegedly riding his bike the wrong way on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, May 13. It's not the first time the "30 Rock" star has found his personal matters aired in public. Alec Baldwin is taken into custody by New York police after allegedly riding his bike the wrong way on Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, May 13. It's not the first time the "30 Rock" star has found his personal matters aired in public.
HIDE CAPTION
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
Alec Baldwin's public battles
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Alec Baldwin published an essay saying he wants to leave New York
  • David Wheeler: Baldwin should consider how to fight back against the paparazzi
  • He says instead of retreating, Baldwin should get a photographer or Google Glass
  • Wheeler: By recording his life, celebrities can fight photos with photos

Editor's note: David R. Wheeler lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he is a freelance writer and a journalism professor at Asbury University. Follow him on Twitter @David_R_Wheeler

(CNN) -- Over the decades, celebrities have chosen various ways of dealing with an increasingly intrusive media. Such methods have included suing (Jacqueline Kennedy), punching (Marlon Brando) and putting a bag over one's head (Shia LaBeouf).

But Alec Baldwin's coping mechanism opens a new chapter in the paparazzi wars. After celebrity gossip site TMZ released footage of Baldwin shouting profanity at an aggressive videographer (with muffled audio that may or may not have contained a gay slur), Baldwin published a bitter "goodbye to public life" essay in New York Magazine.

Before we permanently lose any other celebrities to their secret hideouts, it's time to consider a way to fight back against the paparazzi. In fact, Baldwin was on the cusp of discovering a new weapon — he just didn't realize it.

David Wheeler
David Wheeler

Upon first reading of Baldwin's tirade, you might have missed the solution (after all, the piece is rather long and, at times, tiresome). But the answer is staring us in the face. In fact, it's staring all of us in the face. Every day.

These days, Baldwin said, "everyone has a camera in their pocket." Not just the Ron Galellas of the world, but all of the John Q. Publics looking for a chance to shame a celebrity. This kind of world is too much for Baldwin, who is prone to losing his temper.

But if cameras are small, cheap, and ubiquitous, why not use it to your advantage? Why not take one with you when you go in public, thus ensuring the public can always see your side of the story? "They are baiting you," Baldwin said in his farewell-to-the-world. "You can tell they want to get into it with you. Some bump into me or block the entrance to my apartment..." Exactly. So why not catch them in the act?

Alec Baldwin done with public life
Alec Baldwin: 'Goodbye, public life'

Does that sound like too much trouble? Maybe so. But if you're rich like Baldwin, why not hire someone to follow you around and record life as it happens? Go about your daily life, but have a trusted and well-paid photographer at your side, documenting just how rude, invasive, and aggressive the celebrity chasers can be.

Still sound unreasonable? There's yet another solution that just made itself available. You can record your daily interactions with a wearable camera embedded in your glasses. If you want to show the world what really happened with that jerk of a photographer, just upload the footage from your Google Glass. As USA Today reported earlier this month, police departments are outfitting their officers with wearable cameras to protect both police and citizens against unfair accusations.

All of this might sound extreme. Why should celebrities have to go to such lengths to protect themselves? It may be a lot of trouble, but isn't it better than being humiliated repeatedly by out-of-context outbursts? Isn't it better than retiring from a job you love and living as a hermit for the rest of your life? Baldwin said in his diatribe, "You're out there in a world where if you do make a mistake, it echoes in a digital canyon forever." True, but not if you can show your side of the story.

It may be too late for Baldwin, but not for other celebrities. Don't disappear from public life just to spite the paparazzi. If you do, the celebrity gossip sites will win. It's time for a 21st century solution. It's time to fight photos with photos.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David R. Wheeler.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Jeff Yang calls Ello a wakeup call to Facebook and Twitter, and a sign of hope for fast-rising upstarts Pinterest and Snapchat.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2248 GMT (0648 HKT)
Paul Waldman says the Secret Service should examine its procedures to make sure there are no threats to the White House--but without losing the openness so valuable to democracy
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2049 GMT (0449 HKT)
Jesse Williams says the videotape and 911 call that resulted in police gunning down John Crawford at a Walmart reveals the fatal injustice of racial assumptions
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
Mel Robbins says officials should drop the P.C. pose: The beheading in Oklahoma was not workplace violence. Plenty of evidence shows Alton Nolen was an admirer of ISIS.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1911 GMT (0311 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, William Piekos says..
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1911 GMT (0311 HKT)
The Occupy Central movement has already achieved much by bringing greater attention to Hong Kong's struggle for democracy, writes William Piekos.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits America, Madeleine Albright says a world roiled by conflict needs these two great democracies to commit to moving their partnership forward
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
John Sutter: Lake Providence, Louisiana, is the parish seat of the "most unequal place in America." And until somewhat recently, the poor side of town was invisible on Google Street View.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says in the run up to the 2016 election the party faces divisions on its approach to the U.S.'s place in the world
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1419 GMT (2219 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Common Core supporters can't devise a new set of standards and then fail to effectively sell it.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Earlier this month, Kenyans commemorated the heinous attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
David Wheeler says Colorado students are right to protest curriculum changes that downplays civil disobedience.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0158 GMT (0958 HKT)
Sally Kohn says when people click on hacked celebrity photos or ISIS videos, they are encouraging the bad guys.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Loren Bunche says she walked by a homeless man every day and felt bad about it -- until one day she paused to get to know him
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
ISIS grabs headlines on social media, but hateful speech is no match for moderate voices, says Nadia Oweidat.
September 29, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
A new report counts jihadists fighting globally. The verdict? The threat isn't that big, says Peter Bergen.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2137 GMT (0537 HKT)
Ebola could become the biggest humanitarian disaster in a generation, writes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1658 GMT (0058 HKT)
ISIS has shocked the world. But will releasing videos of executions backfire? Four experts give their take.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
Eric Holder kicked off his stormy tenure as attorney general with a challenge to the public that set tone for six turbulent years as top law-enforcement officer.
September 26, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Obama was elected as a war-ending change agent, not a leader who would leave behind for his successor new engagement in Iraq and Syria. Is he as disappointed as the rest of us?
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says the question now is how to translate all the high-profile feminizing into real gains for women
ADVERTISEMENT