Don’t enable the paparazzi |

Don’t enable the paparazzi

Perhaps this truly is the last nail in the coffin for the perceived soul of Aspen. Not the destruction of a cherished building, the demise of a dearly loved business, or the death of a local icon, but the proliferation of paparazzi.

Among many other things, Aspen once was known as a place where celebrities could come to relax. In Aspen, unlike in most other places, actors, musicians, comedians and famous athletes could hang out in restaurants, walk the streets and window shop without being mobbed by fans and other hangers-on. Locals of course enjoyed telling each other stories about who came into the store today or who they saw on Galena Street ” but they were decent enough to leave well enough alone, or at least not to make a scene. Many even made friends with famous people they probably wouldn’t have met anywhere else.

But no longer.

As we’ve seen this week, the celebrity shutter-bugs have discovered Aspen, and they’ve been chasing people such as Goldie Hawn and Heidi Klum around the downtown core. Local cops have spent an inordinate amount of time this last week or so responding to complaints about paparazzi harassing people, getting aggressive and generally being obnoxious in their pursuit of that perfect, voyeuristic shot.

This is a waste of the cops’ time, of course, but we’re glad to hear they’re taking the complaints seriously and plan to enforce a city ordinance that prohibits people from blocking public streets and sidewalks.

It’s tempting to vilify these photographers and what they do, but we should remember they are acting within their rights to walk public streets and shoot pictures. To us, however, their presence is just one more sign of Aspen’s decline as a community of human beings and its rise as a place of crass excess and a quick buck.

There’s not much we can do as individuals to stop paparazzi from doing their thing. But we don’t have to help them.

When one of these celebrity-hunters hands you a business card and asks for help locating a star, a photo of whom will make the photographer a nice wad of money, then just hand the card back.

It may not make the photographer go away, or leave Aspen, but at least it’ll send a signal that Aspen doesn’t want to be a hunting ground for celebrity-tabloid parasites.

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