NPR Story
2:17 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Actors Launch Campaign To Keep Celebrities' Kids Out Of Photos

You know that section in tabloids that shows celebrities running errands with their kids, or at their child’s soccer game?

Maybe you don’t look at those pictures, and our next guests would thank you for that.

Actors Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard have launched a new social media campaign to get the kids of very visible celebrities out of pictures.

Using the Twitter hashtag “no kids policy,” the husband and wife duo have asked their followers to boycott media organizations that publish photographs of celebrities’ children without parental consent.

And the message has spread, with major media organizations pledging not to run pictures of celebrities’ children, including People, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition, NBC’s Today Show, and US Weekly.

Bell and Shepard join Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the campaign.

Bell says she understand the appeal of seeing celebrity parents and their kids, but the process of getting that photograph is “extremely disturbing.”

“I thought it was cute as well, until I witnessed firsthand the 15 strange men who hang out at playgrounds and disrupt the sort of natural flow of children’s traffic there, and end up pushing kids and yelling,” Bell said.

On a recent trip, Bell recalls coming back to L.A. and being confronted by paparazzi after stepping off the plane.

“You can’t see because they are so many flash bulbs, and mind you, there is nothing newsworthy about what we are doing,” Bell said. “But the consumption of celebrities is so rabid. And we’re here to just talk about the fact that maybe it’s a little unethical to be consuming the children in that fashion.”

“We don’t feel like our child is a public personality that could be considered newsworthy,” Shepard agrees. “We do believe in this country you are private until you choose otherwise, and that should be a right that we all should fight to keep.”

Guests

  • Kristen Bell, an actress appearing on the T.V. series House of Lies and Veronica Mars. She tweets @IMKristenBell.
  • Dax Shepard, an actor appearing on the T.V. series Parenthood. He tweets @daxshepard1.
Copyright 2014 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

Transcript

ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:

It's HERE AND NOW.

You know that section in People, celebrities in sweatpants running errands with kids in strollers? Maybe you see when we look at the pictures in the checkout aisle. Or maybe you don't, and our next guests would thank you. They've launched a new social media campaign with the Twitter hashtag no kids policy. They're asking media to stop publishing paparazzi pictures of kids of celebrities without parental consent. Some big names have signed on, people. And here's "Entertainment Tonight" executive producer DJ Petroro.

DJ PETRORO: This was an opportunity to make a decision that was clearly the right decision for us, for the Hollywood community and, I feel, our viewers who have a respect for celebrities.

YOUNG: Well, the no kids policy campaign was started by a married couple. Actress Kristen Bell, you may know her as Veronica Mars of the CW Network show and now the movie out this month. Kristen, you there?

KRISTEN BELL: Yes, I am.

YOUNG: Good. We're also joined by your husband, actor Dax Shepard of NBC's "Parenthood." Love that show. Dax, you there?

DAX SHEPARD: Yes, ma'am.

YOUNG: Well, welcome to both of you. We know you have a young daughter. And people might be aware that there was a very public legal campaign, Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry lobbying in California for laws. What's the difference between your campaign and the law that took effect in January that makes it a crime for someone to harass a celebrity's child for a picture?

SHEPARD: Yes, that was California bill 606, which went into law in January. And what it does is it tackles the supply side of the issue with the photographers who generate these photos. And we thought, you know, what if we could go after the demand side and urge the consumer to vote on this topic.

YOUNG: Well, it's - and it's the people who deliver them who are signing on - the magazines, the shows and magazines in particular. Let me ask you, Kristen. You know the section I'm talking about in People magazine where everybody's in the playgrounds and stuff. Do you not look at that? There's a sort of a - I don't know what the attraction is. But do you understand the attraction of that?

BELL: I absolutely understand the attraction. The - looking at a child at the park seems adorable. And when I first opened those magazines, which I don't look at anymore, I thought it was cute as well until I witnessed firsthand the 15 strange men who hang out at playgrounds and disrupt the sort of natural flow of children's traffic there and end up pushing kids and yelling and it's - it was extremely disturbing to me, and I don't think that any child should have to be bugged at a playground no matter who their parent is.

YOUNG: Tell us more about that because it's funny. Jennifer Garner was in tears testifying in California ahead of this bill. But here in Cambridge where her husband Ben Affleck grew up, they would come visit. You would see them on the streets with their kids. Nobody would bother them. Everything was fine. You're talking about a very different situation where are these - there are these paparazzi chasing people down. Tell us more about that.

BELL: When your parents are actors and you live in Los Angeles, you're usually tailed by a group of paparazzi that are - basically have your family under 24-hour surveillance should someone be so lucky as to catch you picking a wedgie so that they can sell it for...

SHEPARD: Kristen is talking about a personal experience from our trip to Hawaii last week so bear with her.

(LAUGHTER)

SHEPARD: So yes, even on Hawaii, not New York or LA, where we were just having a vacation there were tons of paparazzi photographing our family.

BELL: Yeah. The baseline of it is that those pictures sell to blogs and magazines, and there's so much money involved. It's like when you get off the airplane at LAX - we traveled on Monday night - there were 15, 20 of them. You can't see because there are so many flashbulbs. And, mind you, there's nothing newsworthy about what we're doing. But the consumption of celebrities is so rabid, and we're here to just talk about the fact that maybe it's a little unethical to be consuming the children in that fashion.

YOUNG: Well - and let's make sure we underscore that. You both are - chose these lives. You're actors. Most actors would die to have anyone want to take a picture of them. You're talking about what it does to your kids.

SHEPARD: Yeah. We just - we don't feel that our child is a public personality that could be considered newsworthy. We do believe in this country you are private until you choose otherwise, and that should be a right that we all fight to keep.

BELL: And also, I don't see this as a celebrity issue. I see it as a parenting issue. And from a parenting perspective, I am her mother. And you do not have my permission to consume her. It's really as simple as that.

YOUNG: This is interesting because what you're asking is that photographers ask permission. And there might be a time when a parent of - a celebrity parent of a child might want to grant it. But back in the day - I'm thinking as recently as the '70s - if you work for, for instance, Westinghouse Broadcasting and had a camera, you had to have a form filled out by a parent if you showed any image of a child.

BELL: Yeah. I'm not sure how we got so far away from that. And it's just sort of reiterating this respect that we used to have for minors before we made them into characters in this sort of entertainment media soap opera.

YOUNG: Yeah. Well, you know, there are some critics. Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers Association told USA Today that celebrities - people like you - want their cake and they want to eat it too. You want free publicity. At times, there are parents who have been accused of using their children to attract photographers. But then there are times when you want to be left alone. Your thoughts.

SHEPARD: Yeah. Just quickly. That seems to be a conceit that is used quite often in this argument, and we don't know anyone personally that does this. But you know if, in fact, someone is exploiting their child to promote their own career, it's all the more reason to join us in boycotting those magazines that would show that because why on earth would you want to reward that type of parenting anyways?

YOUNG: Well, some might say this is going to mean lower therapy bills down the road, you know, for these kids. It's going to be much better for them. Meanwhile, you guys have been vocal about causes in the past. You delayed getting married until California legalized same-sex marriage. You've also got a lot on your plate. I want to congratulate you both, Kristen, your new movie, and Dax, on "Parenthood" and your upcoming movie "The Judge." But that's going to mean more media attention.

SHEPARD: Yeah. And again, you know, the outlets that I would choose to do, and I think both Kristen would as well, would be, you know, talk shows and traditional ways of promoting material. I think ultimately you have to show America material on the movie you're promoting to get them interested. I don't think either of us being at the beach picking a wedgie will actually make you want to go see "The Judge" as much as I wish it would.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: It might.

(LAUGHTER)

BELL: Well - and also, like, you know, I personally believe in - that people are inherently good. And so all we have is our collective consciousness. I wanted this issue to be in the spotlight. And going up the chain, we targeted outlets and consumers at the same time. We're now targeting photo houses like WireImage and Getty Image...

SHEPARD: People who broker in the photos to the magazines.

BELL: Yes. And believe it or not, a lot of them have been very supportive because they employ real photographers who don't intend to...

SHEPARD: Camp at the end of your driveway in a bush.

BELL: Yeah. Those aren't real photographers. That's just...

SHEPARD: But shockingly, one of the media houses is Splash, which is huge, and that's owned by Bill Gates.

BELL: Yeah. It's surprising because Splash is the worst offender as far as posting images of children.

YOUNG: Have you talked directly to Bill Gates?

SHEPARD: Well, we've reached out and...

BELL: Do you have his phone number? Because if you do, I'll give him a buzz.

(LAUGHTER)

SHEPARD: Yeah. Because - yeah. We are shocked that Bill Gates, somebody who's been so committed with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to helping children, would want to own a company that would traffic in these type of photos. And once again, those magazines, they sold just as well before there were images of kids in them. And we believe there's just as much economic viability without the kids, and we hope that he'll make that decision.

YOUNG: That's actor Dax Shepard and actress Kristen Bell, a married couple, parents of a young daughter.

SHEPARD: And swingers. I just - I want that on the record.

(LAUGHTER)

YOUNG: I don't think anyone doubted it.

(LAUGHTER)

YOUNG: Thank you both so much.

BELL: Thank you.

SHEPARD: Thanks for having us.

YOUNG: And, by the way, we also reached out to the Gates Foundation. We'll tell you if we get a response.

JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:

And, Robin, we have a goodbye to say today...

YOUNG: Oh, no.

HOBSON: ...to Natalie Winston, our incredibly talented producer at NPR in Washington. She's moving to WEEKEND EDITION. So a big get for Scott Simon and Rachel Martin. Natalie, we will miss you tremendously.

YOUNG: Natalie, we - they are so lucky to have you, and we apologize for almost killing you on the daily show.

(LAUGHTER)

YOUNG: HERE AND NOW is a daily production of NPR and WBUR Boston in association with the BBC World Service. I'm Robin Young.

HOBSON: I'm Jeremy Hobson. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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