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
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT