Two recent ethics stories involving the famous, accomplished and popular:
1. Bill Murray The aging bad boy of SNL and “Groundhog Day,” found himself in some trouble recently when he was trying to chill at the Vesuvio rooftop lounge in Carmel, California, convenient to the annual Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tourney in which Bill was playing. A few patrons started flashing cameras at him from close range—without asking, of course–and true to his on-screen character (and off-screen, where he is known as an impulsive jerk), Murray got up and chucked their phones off the 2nd story rooftop. Obviously, whatever the provocation, you can’t do that.
Bill paid for the phones, and the owners didn’t press charges. The problem for me were the typical reactions of commenters on the story, proving once again that the average, even above average member of the public can’t solve a simple ethics problem.
Reaction A: Murray is a celebrity, the public pays his salary, and he has no right to be upset if people impose on his privacy every waking hour.
WRONG. The public has no more right to be rude and inconsiderate to celebrities than they do to anyone else, and the Golden Rule applies.
Reaction B: Murray was in a public place, and has no reasonable expectations of privacy. Thus he cannot complain about people taking his photos.
WRONG. He certainly can. He can’t reasonable complain about people looking at him, but a celebrity not working has every expectation of being left alone. Taking photos of anyone without permission is unethical, but if people must do it, they must do so unobtrusively—no flashes. Again, this was rude and inconsiderate.
Reaction C: The fans were jerks, and Murray was justified in taking their cell phones.
WRONG. He can tell them to stop. He can call the manager. He cannot destroy their property. His conduct was excessive, violent and unfair.
2. Paul McCartney. Sir Paul attempted to attend a Grammys after-party at the Argyle nightclub in Hollywood , hosted by 26-year-old rapper Tyga. A bouncer wouldn’t let him in.
Theories abound. Tyga now swears he knew nothing about it. Another artist, rapper Bow Wow, has theorized that Paul wasn’t welcome because he isn’t part of a ‘new generation’ of artists who frequent the popular nightspot. Others suggest that maybe the place was just too full.
Too full to let in Paul?
The icon took it well, reportedly, and even made a comment that is a funny substitute for “Do you know who I am?”, saying, “How VIP do we gotta get?”
Good question. I refuse to believe that the bouncers didn’t know who he was.
At a certain high level of accomplishment and lifetime achievement, and whatever that level is, Paul McCartney has cleared it with room to spare, an individual has earned respect…from everyone, and forever. There is a great story about when Ted Williams met President George H.W. Bush, and said, “I can’t believe I’m meeting you.” Bush relied, “That’s funny, I was going to say the same thing!” That’s the kind of treatment Presidents, the greatest hitter who ever lived and musical geniuses who changed the world have earned.
Show some damn respect.