Fan-celebrity interactions always trade in semblances of intimacy, whether through orchestrated encounters, interview tell-it-alls, or paparazzi photographs. Lady Gaga—mistress of controlling and manipulating her star image—thematizes the ambiguities of star and stalker in her song Paparazzi. The chorus pronounces: I’m your biggest fan/ I follow you until you love me/ Paparazzi, and it remains unclear as to whether the singer is the star addressing the stalker or the stalker serenading the star. This ambiguity becomes even more pronounced with the line I won't stop until that boy is mine, which posits the female singer in the role of the fan and thus inverts the established fan/celebrity dichotomy. The lyrics’ ambiguity as to who is stalking whom anticipates the complicated fan/star interdependency Kuwdora’s vid foregrounds.
The vid recounts the strange events surrounding Inglorious Basterds star and artsy low budget horror film producer Eli Roth’s close encounters with his fans last September. Upon being linked to erotic fan fiction involving his character (as well as him), he began twittering about it; fan girls, in turn, responded excitedly on ONTD, traversing several social networking sites and private and public communication. These encounters continued with night-long, increasingly sexualized MySpace chats between Roth and the fangirls (also know as Blueberries, a term derived from Roth mistaking Blackberry for Blueberry), culminating in Roth posting an image of a used tissue as proof of his enjoyment over receiving ample pictures of fan girl boobs he had requested.
The vid uses the song’s fan/celebrity interdependency to showcase the way Roth and fans effectively constructed each other’s objectifying identities. It’s difficult to look at these increasingly sexual-ized and -izing comments and see either side as exploiting or victimizing the other. In its stead, the immediate intimacy of two groups traditionally mediated by third parties (whether they be handlers or media) creates an almost violent implosion. The vid uses Roth’s earlier films to create an atmosphere of fierce and furious frenzy that frames and haunts the sexual poses and shots that intersect with the textual eroticism. The result is a loss of restraint that seems to accurately depict these events in which neither fans nor Roth—let alone anyone who might have been in charge of his media image or message—remain fully in control of the unfolding exchanges depicted here.
While the vid clearly uses material from one specific event with one particular actor and a small group of women who interacted with him, the larger issue Paparazzi raises is the changing dynamic of star and stalker, fan and celebrity, especially in relation to new social media. On the one hand, the immediacy and intimacy online interaction such as twitter affords us simply foregrounds the fact that both groups require the other to exist. On the other hand, however, the lack of temporal delays and moderating intermediaries accelerates and intensifies these charged encounters, leading to situations where no one, in the end, can be considered in control.