If the photo above was not already going viral, I wouldn’t print it here. Before the post continues, see if you can guess who that is above. No cheating now; this is an ethics blog…
That’s Bridget Fonda, whose last acting role was in “The Snow Queen,” where which she appeared like this:
That was in 2001; her last photo for public consumption was in 2009, where she posed with film composer and husband Danny Elfman, and looked like looked like Bridget Fonda. Some enterprising papparazi managed to photograph her—she’s now 58— while she was on a shopping run.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
Is it ethical to take unflattering photos of former performers and celebrities and publicize them expressly to invite cruel comments and ridicule?
Some related questions and my answers:
Are such photos newsworthy?
I guess so. They interest the public, which is why tabloids have made them a staple forever. “Where are they now?” books and features are popular.
Does it matter if the ex-celebrity cares?
Sure it does. I’d be tempted to say that their permission should be required, except that’s not going to happen. Asking their permission would still be the ethical thing to do, however. Marlene Dietrich famously refused to go out in public after her career ended with a crippling fall of a stage during her final concert tour. She said she wanted to be remembered as the glamorous legend she had always been. Maybe Bridget Fonda doesn’t care; she and her husband are filthy rich, and she wouldn’t have retired in her forties if she was addicted to being adulated for her appearance. In this, she is a healthy contrast to freakish plastic surgery fan Aunt Jane, 84, who appears in public looking like this…
If Bridget cared, I assume she wouldn’t go out looking like that first photo. Or maybe she thought she was sufficiently unrecognizable.
Is being subjected to public criticism when one ages, gains weight or is no longer sexually alluring part of the price of celebrity, causing the victim to be estopped from objecting?
Maybe. It doesn’t prevent ethical people from being kind. And the Golden Rule isn’t suspended for once beautiful actresses.