I don't want to hear any more answering-machine captures of celebrities calling their young daughters pigs. I don't want to see any more videos of celebrities crawling on the floor in a drunken stupor. When the Alec Baldwin tape surfaced, I didn't think too much about it. He's not one of my favorite movie personalities, and his angry outburst merely reinforced what I already thought about him. But then the video of David Hasselhoff surfaced, and it was such a creepy invasion of privacy that it made me think some more about Baldwin, too. He shouldn't have gotten angry and yelled at his daughter, and he knows that, too, and must have wished he could take it back almost as soon as he realized what he had done. He can't take it back now, though.
Should I be delighted -- or at least unafflicted by outrage -- when someone is caught in an embarrassing private moment, just because I don't especially like that person? Doesn't that make me complicit in the violation in such a way that I'm giving tacit permission for my privacy to be invaded somewhere down the road? Go take a look at some of the embarrassing videos on YouTube -- type in "drunk" in the search box, for example -- and notice that they're not all of celebrities. Just imagine all the things you've ever done over which you thank God every day few or no people know about. Unless you think you never will do such a thing, you ought to be concerned about the privacy of people such as Baldwin and Hasselhoff. It has often been remarked that the new media have a democratizing influence on information flow. Part of that process will be the blurring of the line between "celebrities" and ordinary people.