Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner have a strong message for the paparazzi: Leave our kids alone.
On Tuesday, the actresses testified before a California judiciary committee in support of Senate Bill 606, which would prevent paparazzi from snapping photos of celebs' kids without their permission. “By increasing penalties and authorizing civil actions, SB 606 will have a significant deterrent effect on those who would consider tormenting the most vulnerable and defenseless members of our society,” says Kevin de Leon, the California senator who proposed the legislation.
"Tormented, vulnerable and defenseless" aren't exactly the first words that spring to mind when you think of the children of Hollywood's elite. But the actresses' testimonies are actually quite chilling.
"Large, aggressive men swarm us, causing a mob scene, yelling, jockeying for position, crowding around the kids while running over other parents and children unfortunate enough to be nearby, including one poor 3-year-old who was knocked to the ground by one of our paparazzi cameras outside my kids preschool," Garner said. "My 17-month-old baby is terrified and cries and my 4-year-old says, 'Why do they never smile and never go away? They are always with us.'"
Garner also decried the cover that photographers provide for potential stalkers. "There are violent, mentally ill stalkers who can now get close to my kids by simply following mobs of photographers and blending in," she said. "Like the very man who threatened to cut the babies out of my belly, who was arrested waiting behind our daughter's preschool standing among the throng of paparazzi."
Berry commented on her own scary interactions with aggressive photographers. "I fear and I feel in fear for my child who is strapped into my car," she said. "I'm doing my part as a parent but at any moment I feel like a crash could happen and end her life, my life, and other innocent passengers driving in their vehicles."
Last month, the world got a first-hand look at the paparazzi experience from a child's point of view: In the video below, 7-year-old Suri Cruise angrily tries to shoo photographers away, while her mother Katie Holmes calmly attempts to ignore them. The video catches one man's response, which was to call Cruise a little brat -- and worse. Watch here:
Suri's fussy reaction isn't the point. Obviously, the photographers' behavior is overly aggressive. Whether a child reacts with anger -- or terror -- when confronted by the relentless throng of paparazzi is another matter. Fact is, the flashbulb mob shouldn't be harassing her in the first place.
Jennifer Graham Kizer is an Atlanta-based writer who covers pop culture and watches too much TV. Luckily, iVillage gives her an excuse to watch even more. Follow her on Google+.