Friday, November 23, 2012

Fighting celebrity paparazzi using economics

Many celebrities seem to live like caged animals because they're beset by paparazzi whenever they leave their home.

Why not adopt the following supply-side solution to this problem?

My idea is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie should hire a full-time photographer who follows them around whenever they leave the house and takes tons of photographs of them. They would then flood the market with these photographs, selling them to celebrity-gawking magazines for next to nothing, far undercutting the price that regular paparazzi charge these magazines. Because the private photographer would have better access than the regular paparazzi, the photos will be of higher quality and lower price, making them irresistible to the magazines. Now that the regular paparazzi can't make a living off of stalking Pitt and Jolie, they'll stop, and the couple can live in relative peace.

The monetary cost of maintaining a full-time photographer should be trivial to major celebrities. These celebrities are probably also used to having employed housestaff around all the time, so it's no big deal to have another one around. You would have to disseminate many private and somewhat unflattering moments, but that's already happening in the current equilibrium. (If no unflattering pictures were voluntarily disseminated, then you leave an opening for an outside paparazzo who specializes in capturing such shots to profitably remain in the market.) By becoming the low-cost provider in this market, the celebrity can prevent the really unflattering images from leaking out and avoid the unpleasant experience of being hounded by paparazzi stalkers. The total quantity of published photographic disclosure probably wouldn't increase that much, but the personal burden of that disclosure would decrease dramatically.

Brad and Angelina, you're welcome.
--A rare original post by the author of this blog