Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Legs akimbo.

PRIVACY. What is that, exactly?

The law hasn't decided, because it has 17 words in the Human Rights Act which say we have to respect something it doesn't actually define.

And we haven't decided, because one minute we're desperate to know which footballer's taken out a super-injunction and the next we're outraged someone took a photo of the future queen's jubblies, while doing a Google image search to see them for ourselves.

People claim privacy when what they really want is secrecy, and there are plenty who trade it in return for cash, attention or glory.

It's a hazy concept with, on the one hand, obviously private individuals like the families of Milly Dowler and Madeleine McCann thrust into the spotlight by events and staying there in an effort to find their daughters, and on the other self-publicising meaningless starlets like Sienna Miller.

Sienna has had her share of unwelcome and unreasonable attention. She accepted £100,000 damages from the News of the World after it admitted hacking her phone, and gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry about being hunted by marauding packs of paparazzi.

She said: "I would often find myself almost daily, I was 21, at midnight running down down a dark street on my own with 10 big men chasing me. The fact that they had cameras in their hands meant that that was legal. But if you take away the cameras, what have you got? You've got a pack of men chasing a woman, and obviously that's a very intimidating situation to be in."

Quite right she was too, sounds awful. In my experience though photographers generally just want a photograph, and if you give them one rather than legging it around alleyways life is a lot simpler. But if you're only 21 you're not to know that, necessarily.

Except that at the age of 21 Sienna was barely known, and a model rather than an actress. Her acting debut in a forgettable film was a year earlier in 2001, followed by another dud movie and a couple of unwatched TV series. After modelling for Coca Cola and Vogue, a breakthrough came in 2003 when aged 22 she posed in a thong, legs akimbo, for the Pirelli calendar.

Shortly afterwards she was cast in Layer Cake and then as Jude Law's love interest in the remake of Alfie, and when the film came out in 2004 it transpired they were a couple. Cue lots of interest in the photogenic, unknown actress girlfriend of the British acting megastar.

That year she went with the megastar to the Oscars, wearing a dress by up-and-coming designer Matthew Williamson for whom, by that point, she was 'a muse'.

During the following year or so both were undeniably hacked by the News of the World's private investigator, followed, and had every cough and spit of their lives spread over the newspapers. Sienna was 23 by this point, and that must have been difficult and uncomfortable.

Particularly when, in 2005, Jude made a public apology after being caught cheating on her with his children's nanny. It transpired Sienna had a fling with Layer Cake co-star Daniel Craig, one of Jude's mates. Then Jude and his ex Sadie Frost were found to have been wife-swapping with the drummer from  Supergrass.

All pretty tawdry, none of it Sienna's 'fault' as such, and it was in this period she was followed most by the paps. She was 24, which is still young, but not as young as 21.

And to some extent attention is perhaps to be expected if you get engaged to a very famous person, split up, get back together again, generally take your clothes off in films, appear in public in nipple-baring frocks and give interviews in which you discuss your love life to promote your latest project.

That doesn't make being chased by 10 men down alleyways all right, of course. But being regularly chased down alleyways might make a person check their nipples are covered when in public, now and again.

She got a few more film roles, nothing startling, which in 2008 included appearing in a film called Hippie Hippie Shake which nobody noticed except for the fact Sienna was employed to take her clothes off in it.

During one bit of filming, in the middle of a London park, Sienna was starkers in a pond filming a scene when an enterprising snapper snuck a few shots of her.

Now it's not nice being photographed when you don't know about it, but it was in a public place and there was a whole film crew on hand. Sienna was aware people would be looking, and that ultimately her boobs and bits would be projected on screens 30ft high for the public to gawp at.

Another picture, in that situation, is neither here nor there and what's more became the only useful bit of publicity the film got.

Sienna felt differently, and sued the newspapers which published the picture and won £37,500 for her trouble, which incidentally is more than the film ever made at the box office because it was never released. The production company was losing cash and canned the whole thing.

Around the same time she launched into an affair with the billionaire married father-of-four Balthazar Getty. They were pictured in public on a yacht in Italy, while Sienna was topless and cuddling a man she shouldn't have been.

Sienna sued the newspapers which printed the pictures, gave interviews saying she had ended the fling, that she was still in love with Jude Law, was asked by Jude to please stop talking about him, and then was seen again canoodling with Getty.

More recently, Sienna has settled with a new boyfriend and had a baby who she has been more than happy to gossip about with journalists to promote her latest film project.

And, today, it's been revealed she has posed in all her naked eight-months pregnant glory for an oil painting.

So - and let's be clear here, and use logic - Sienna's idea of privacy is what, exactly?

Because it looks to me as though she is entirely happy to trade on her baby, her boobs, and her lovers when it's on her terms and takes great offence if anybody inquires about any of them when it doesn't benefit her in some way.

It looks like she is happy to mislead a public inquiry into the ethics of the media while, thankfully, not having her own ethics questioned in the least.

It looks like the acting has not been as successful as the suing was, and it especially looks like when the harassment she complained of stops she responds by getting her kit off in such a fashion as to draw more attention back to herself.

It's a million miles from the intrusion suffered by the Dowlers and McCanns, and hardly in the same field as Kate Middleton being snapped topless a good mile from a public road.

Sienna once boasted she had changed the law on paparazzi and that "they can't take photographs of me anywhere I expect privacy. They can't sit outside the house, follow in cars – unless I'm coming out of The Ivy, which I'm not going to be".

Except that it was already the case that photographs cannot be taken anywhere people expect privacy, and it's entirely legal to sit outside someone's house unless they feel harassed in which case there's a law for that already too.

No, all Sienna has done is prove, with a quite majestic degree of hypocrisy, how much of a two-faced little baggage she is and how stupid judges and lawyers can be when faced with a pretty blonde whose tits they can all picture.

She doesn't get intruded upon anymore, which for some reason makes her all the more keen to thrust her publicity-hungry breasts at us whether we like it or not while barking about how awful it makes her feel.

You know, I never thought she was much of an actress.

Until now.


Gareth Milner said...

Call me mr oblivious, but I didn't really know or care much about who she was until this whole phone hacking thing. I still don't really care that much about her now. She wanted to have her cake and eat it, greedy cow.

Roddy said...

Love the ending. Love the way you kill without going ott on this occasion too.

Juzzzy said...

"No, all Sienna has done is prove, with a quite majestic degree of hypocrisy, how much of a two-faced little baggage she is and how stupid judges and lawyers can be when faced with a pretty blonde whose tits they can all picture."


pirate said...

I never got what people saw in Ms Miller, it is a classic example of Ephebophilic fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe they're still her breasts and it's up to her where they appear?

Bercher said...

A very good analysis of the typical celebrity. The painting is a good job, looks a bit like me before my diet.

Violent said...

Rubbing their faces against cameras insistently is all well and good when they want to flog something or suck up more cash for their current outpouring of mediocrity, but God forbid we ever inquire as to what they're up to when they're not being shills.

If you make your money by selling yourself at a very high price, don't complain when someone burgles your store after you got drunk and left the door open.

If you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the press should seek her consent before they publish anything intimate about her.

If she chooses to disclose intimate details about herself then that's OK. If she hasn't given consent then the press should not publish.

Seeking and complying with a subject's wishes is respecting the subject.

Davis said...

Thanks Foxy, I wondered what had happened to Hippie Hippie Shake - after all that hoo-ha and publicity, don't recall seeing it advertised at my local multiplex...

Foxy said...

"Hello Person X, please can we report you're awful?"


"Oh, ok, we won't then."

Can't see anything wrong with your plan at all.

pirate said...

It is like the difference between Good AIDs and Bad AIDs.

Alexander said...

Interesting stuff.
But I never understand the logic which says: because you use the media to promote yourself, therefore the media is allowed to expose you when you don't want to be promoted. Nobody forces the media to publish photographs of Sienna Miller on the red carpet, they print them because they judge that their readers will like them. The idea that there is some sort of quid pro quo whereby they are helping Sienna Miller build a profile out of the kindness of their hearts is ludicrous. And the idea that having done so they then have rights to publish intrusive photos of her is even more ludicrous. Miller can do what she wants with her nipples. The newspapers dont have to publish them.

The Kraken said...

Cracking post, Foxy. Cracking. Sienna's Miller's concept of privacy bears absolutely no resemblance to mine or anyone else's for that matter. I wouldn't want my tits to be in a paper whether the pic was taken privately or in a park and I can't imagine shifting my principles accordingly either. I usually find this whole issue a grey area but when it comes to the likes of Miller - who hits the innocent young thing/ glory-chaser button whenever it suits her - it all becomes very much black n white.

Guido Fawkes said...

She looks hot.

Anonymous said...

So, in other words, once a woman has consented to having her privacy breached once, it is perfectly acceptable for anyone and everyone to continue breaching her privacy, without her consent, anytime and anywhere they want to...?

Is this column being ghost-written by Jimmy Savile?

Anonymous said...

If the only way I could make money was by selling pictures of my wobbly bits and telling people all about my latest conquest, having this rug pulled out from under me would obviously be annoying and financially detrimental, the commodity being devalued as the market is saturated.

Maybe something like having your laptop stolen every time you left the office Foxy?

Unknown said...

you missed out the rhys ifans bit. but otherwise spot on...

Foxy said...

Nope, didn't say that anywhere.

Foxy said...

But Sienna's point is privacy, not business. And if I waved my laptop in thieves' faces every time I left the office or lying about in a public place I'd expect someone to swipe it.

james jones said...

Scuse me? She came to prominence in this whole business because her phone was illegally hacked. When she gave testimony on papping, she mentioned the intimidation and hostility of papps - many of them rather bitter and hostile men - and mentioned being spat at in the face (an old papp trick to get a startled reaction), and chased down alleyways. She didnt make any objection to being photographed per se.

Your implicit logic is that if a papp needs a shot, they have a right to engage in illegal activity - chasing someone in an intimidating fashion is misdemeanour harassment, potentially assault. Other parts of your argument are equally illogical. Simply because someone is doing a nude shot for a film (about the 60s hippie scene, so hardly gratuitous), that doesn't mean they've given permission for anyone to snap them. Part of the actor's fee included an allowance for the reproduction of the actor naked - so the damages from a photographer piggybacking on that is a civil issue, not a criminal one. If people pirate your articles, i suspect the papers you work for will be at law quicksmart, even though you've put your writing out there. Other arguments of our seem tendentious. Since when is a private yacht a public place? Simply because it's visible? Does that mean someone can point a long lens at your back garden?

Yes, papps have a right to take photos. Yes, having a public-private life makes that more likely. But it doesn't make public figures a resource for a failing media, and journalists fearful that they're in a dying profession, and desperate for a hit. Behaviour that's criminal or a civil wrong is so, whatever the motive. Your reaction to Miller seems to be partly the arrogance of journos who convince themselves that providing celeb fodder to wrap round ads makes them woodward and bernstein, and partly the structural envy that arises from a profession where you spend a lot of time watching other people have more fun

Anonymous said...

This is about a woman's right to decide, no? Or man's for that matter. There is a difference between choosing to publicise yourself (like writers do, for example, to sell their books) and being forced to against your will (i.e having your phone hacked and being pursued by paparazzi) If she doesn't want to be photographed, surely she has the right to refuse. If not you take the line that all artists/writers/celebs are 'prey' who sign away their right to say no to anything the minute they try to make a living.

Anonymous said...

Whilst I agree that she is publicity-hungry, is this argument you're presenting tantamount to saying that a woman who works as a stripper shouldn't complain if a man on the bus decides to pull her top up and have a look at her tits? After all, she does it for a living. I thought we were living in the 21st century and a woman was entitled to do whatever she liked with her body but this didn't give men a free licence to also do whatever they like with her body.

Anonymous said...


You are missing the point. There is a tension between the public interest and privacy.

If Sienna has done something wrong then it may be in the public interest to over-ride her entitlement to privacy. Otherwise she has has an absolute right to privacy even if she has used the press to promote her career previously.

Consent is everything and is the hallmark of respect, just as the woman's consent is needed before sexual intercourse takes place.

How would you like it if someone unmasked you and published your identity to the world without your consent? On your logic, you could not complain - you are a public figure and have courted publicity in advancement of your career. There's nothing wrong with that but please be consistent and afford others the same respect as you wish for yourself.

Bert said...

I know it is a bit more nuanced, but this still feels surprisingly similar to Galloway's 'consent is forever' attitude to sexual relationships - usually agree with you but not so sure about this one...

Anonymous said...

I'm in favour of giving Sienna (and others like her) absolute privacy. No more photos, interviews, articles etc. That way we will never have to see or hear her again.

Anonymous said...

Not in those words, no. But that's the implication: she consented to having her privacy breached on occasion, and therefore has lost the right to complain if it's breached without her consent? Sounds disturbingly similar to saying a prostitute has lost the right to complain about being violated.

Ali said...

I recently read the Cheryl Cole biography and she got the same injunction against the press that Sienna got. It sounded to my untrained ears that the tests were quite stringent for granting this. The person requesting the injunction had to show they had not personally courted the press beyond professional engagements, had not sent 'anonymous' tips of where they could be lapped etc. I am surprised to hear Sienna has managed to circumvent what seems like quite strict criteria?

Anonymous said...

It's art Foxy as she's a pregnant lady and it's a painting. Nothing to do with Sienna Millar exploiting a decent-sized pair for once due to pregnancy. Everyone can imagine those firm, full beauties instead of fried eggs when they next watch her on screen. Her movies will have increased sales for a while.

Christianbaker0 said...

Is there not an argument for her body/getting her kit off being one of her assets (in the weakest terms possible) for her career?

In which case the more she's photographed topless (against her consent) then that asset depreciates and she'll therefore lose potential jobs in films such as 'Hippie Hippie Shake which would rely on having the 'Sienna Millar naked' angle to get the punters in.

If we could go into any tabloid/gossip magazine and see a bit of Sienna boob then it would take away her selling power for both potential film makers and for herself.

Just a thought.

Foxy said...

The above are all reasonable points, had she been papped topless when in private a la Kate.

The point is, she undressed in public expecting people to notice, then sued when they did. The court was wrong to decide in her favour not because she's traded her privacy before but because it was in PUBLIC.

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