January 2, 2013

"A paparazzo hoping to get a picture of Justin Bieber in his Ferrari after the vehicle was pulled over by police in Los Angeles got struck and killed by an SUV instead."

"And as it turned out, the 18-year-old singer wasn't even in the sports car."

This seems to be an occasion for wheeling out that horrible old saying: He died doing what he loved. He thought he had Justin Bieber set up for a shot. The photographer was swelling with delight and then — blam — not from a Ferrari but an SUV. Let's hope he never knew what hit him — to coin a phrase — and never knew that Bieber wasn't even in that car. He died doing what he loved! He had his peak of paparazzi ecstasy and then... annihilation. A consummation. It's over.

But wait! Justin Bieber wants to speak:
"While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim... Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves."
Oh, Justin. Not every screw-up is an argument for legislation. Putting "meaningful" in front of "legislation" is itself meaningful, but what does it mean? 1. It means meaninglessness, an empty existential cry in the face of helplessness. 2. It means I would like to soothe myself with the fantasy that if the right laws had been in place, the bad thing that just happened would not have happened. 3. It means that we can express meaning through laws, that laws work as expression, quite aside from whether they have any effect on the bad things we would like to call bad.

Now, should we also get on Bieber's case for calling what happened a "tragedy"?
Tragedy (Ancient Greek: τραγῳδία, tragōidia, "he-goat-song") is a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes in its audience an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in the viewing....
Pedants love to say that the word "tragedy" is misused, but I think we may have encountered a correct use of the word. That correct usage seems out of place with the rest of the statement, with its angst about prayer, inspiration, and meaning. One suspects Bieber bumbled into saying something he wouldn't have meant to say. It's meaning without a mind that meant it. We witness human suffering and feel... good!

ADDED: The more apt term is poetic justice — "a literary device in which virtue is ultimately rewarded or vice punished, often in modern literature by an ironic twist of fate intimately related to the character's own conduct." The key is the self-contained logic of the story. It makes sense. There should be no call for legislation to find meaning. The meaning is already there. What happened is exactly right: poetic justice. The Wikipedia page I just linked has some examples, and since we were just talking about Wile E. Coyote, I enjoyed seeing him first on the list of poetic justice in TV and film: "Wile E. Coyote always sets traps for Road Runner, only to end up in the traps themselves." The phrase "hoist with his own petard" expresses the concept. Did you know it's from "Hamlet":
"For 'tis the sport to have the engineer / Hoist with his own petard." (Shakespeare, Hamlet (III.iv.226).)
And did you know (again, from Wikipedia):
During the late 17th century, critics pursuing a neo-classical standard would criticize William Shakespeare in favor of Ben Jonson precisely on the grounds that Shakespeare's characters change during the course of the play.... When Restoration comedy, in particular, flouted poetic justice by rewarding libertines and punishing dull-witted moralists, there was a backlash in favor of drama, in particular, of more strict moral correspondence.

53 comments:

McTriumph said...

Proof! There is a GOD!

The Drill SGT said...

Oh, Justin. Not every screw-up is an argument for legislation. Putting "meaningful" in front of "legislation" is itself meaningful, but what does it mean?

you know, "good laws" aka ones that make me feel good or serve my interests...

failing that, ones that make good PR even if they aren't passed...

AprilApple said...

"Oh, Justin. Not every screw-up is an argument for legislation."

The collective nanny state control freak democrat party disagrees.

Seeing Red said...

If Justin wants his life protected, doesn't he have enough money to quit? Become a has-been, they'll look for him in about 20 years.

rhhardin said...

I like it when reporters get run over.

SteveR said...

Obviously there are exceptions but in the big wide world how is it that "celebrities" are so easily found? More to the point, how are they so easily not found when they want to not be found?

No wait, don't tell me.

EMD said...

He died doing what he loved

Loved?

EMD said...

Also, notice who is first on his list of the protected.

betamax3000 said...

Bieber is Fitzgerald's Daisy, drifting through the twilight world of Celebrity. The photographer was one of many who wished to drop an orchid at the Ferrari (in this case the taking of the photograph consummates the 'date').

And -- like in The Great Gatsby -- Daisy's admirer gets crushed by an SUV.

mikee said...

The tragedy in this incident is that an innocent driver of an SUV suddenly found a person on the highway who should not have been there, and could not avoid killing that person, and will now have to live with that horror for the rest of their lives.

A second tragedy will be the lawsuit against the SUV driver for wrongful death, and against the officer who ordered the paparazzi away from the scene of the traffic stop and thus "caused" the death.

If I were the SUV driver, I'd have a lawsuit filed against the estate of the paparazzi this morning to stake my claim as the one wronged in this situation by the paparazzi's negligence.

virgil xenophon said...

Justin may be a "nice" guy as "nice guys" go, but he is an obviously badly under-educated twit. Unfortunately more mere additional "schooling"--given the state of today's dumbed-down educational system K-15--won't result in what used to be called a "proper education."

Sadly, and even more unfortunately, the level of thinking represented by the Justin Beibers of this world are our future in the best of outcomes.. It is to weep..

bpm4532 said...

The driver screamed, "my SUV went out of control! It's not my fault!"

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mitchell the Bat said...

Tragic means bad.

Meaningful means good.

Arthur Miller meant to compose Fanfare for the Common Man but Copeland beat him to it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Ah.... the smell of irony in the morning.

Justin Bieber: prepared statement from his attorney.

betamax3000 said...

The paparazzi was just trying to sneak a snapshot up Bieber's skirt.

gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Dolan said...

"One suspects Bieber bumbled into saying something he wouldn't have meant to say."

One suspects that Bieber may not even have read the statement issued by his PR flaks.

As for tragedy, it has more to do with a good man being brought down by cruel fate than being run over by an errant SUV.

EMD said...

given the state of today's dumbed-down educational system

Blame the Canadian educational system.

Henry said...

celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves...

Why stop there? Why not inspire meaningful legislation that protects everybody from everything?

Then, on day 2 of the meaningful legislative session, we will inspire meaningful legislation that preserves everyone's individual rights from everything and stuff.

gerry said...

Hey, it is a tragic event involving a struggling paparazzo-singer wannabee in a dysfunctional state and a thoughtless celebrity.

Do you know the way to San Jose?

gerry said...

Sneaky SUVs. You just can't trust 'em.

dbp said...

"What a looser"! Was my innitial thought; this guy died trying to get, what would have been, a usless picture. But if you look at the (metaphorical) big picture, he succeeded: He wanted to take a picture which would have entertainment value, instead he created a story with much better entertainment value.

I do feel awful for the SUV driver though.

wyo sis said...

There is too much "tragedy" in this world and not enough good sense.

MadisonMan said...

You can't fix dumb with legislation.

Crossing the street without looking? Well, maybe that's not dumb, that's just pre-occupation. My sympathies to the paparazzi's family.

Rusty said...

Stupid people die in stupid ways.

glenn said...

And people say there's no God.

edutcher said...

And a beautiful, young, blonde English Princess smiles...

somewhere...

in...

The Twilight Zone.

sabeth.chu said...

justin bieber calls for meaningful legislation.
justin bieber calls for meaningful legislation.
awesome.

Bob said...

A Darwin award winner

Bob said...

A Darwin award winner

Fritz said...

Why the emphasis that it was an SUV? The guy would have been just as dead if it had been a Chevy Volt.

deborah said...

"If I were the SUV driver, I'd have a lawsuit filed against the estate of the paparazzi this morning to stake my claim as the one wronged in this situation by the paparazzi's negligence."


I'm sure he lawyered up immediately and the one to be sued is the papparazo's media outlet, if he was under contract, or such.

William said...

A first amendment martyr. The first amendment covers not just the speech you love, nor even the speech you hate, but also the speech you really, truly wish would just stop babbling....We need rangers like this brave photographer to explore the mine laden perimeters of the free speech zone. I hope all the troops at TMZ wear a black arm band in memory of their fallen comrade.

Ann Althouse said...

"Why the emphasis that it was an SUV? The guy would have been just as dead if it had been a Chevy Volt."

I emphasized it because of the contrast between the flashy car and the ordinary car.

Ann Althouse said...

In a "struck pedestrian" case, the driver of the car is in a difficult position. And it sounds like the police directed him to go back to the other side of the road. He was struck while doing what the police ordered him to do.

Bryan C said...

The SUV driver must feel terrible. I hope they understand they weren't at fault.

Andrew Koenig said...

Tom Lehrer once defined catharsis as the feeling of calm that you get after you throw up.

Clyde said...

It's the papparazzo's parents' fault. One of the most important things a parent can drum into a child's head is "look both ways before you cross the street." He didn't. This is a parenting failure.

Danno said...

dtp, Please replace "looser" with "loser". Otherwise the good folks at Althouse might suspect you have a screw loose!

Danno said...

Make that dbp.

Danno said...

Commenting on the substance of Althouse's blog post, I think it is great that she, a law prof, clearly recognizes the folly of those who always advocate more law as the answer to every problem. Firstly, how can the average citizen keep up with all of the law that is legislated? And secondly, those who are not complying with our existing laws are not likely to obey new laws anyway.

Sam L. said...

His dogma got run over by his karma.

ricpic said...

The malevolence of SUV's continues. Attention must be paid! Stand with Justin and Hussein against the suburbs and their oppressor killer vehicles. Stand with women, minorities and homosexuals against THEM!! Kill their cars. Do it now. Pass the bill without reading it. For the children!!!

Sigivald said...

"There oughta be a law", no matter how you phrase it, is usually a bad response.

I'd love to hear what kind of legislation Bieber thinks is the Solution to this Not-a-Problem.

(It's already illegal to hit people with cars, it turns out.)

Synova said...

They're going to ask him, so he has to say something and he *can't* say... "the guy was asking for it."

Sure, I feel sorry for the "victim's family" because it's always bad for the family.

But the person I feel the most sorry for is the driver of the SUV. Can you imagine?

There are signs on the sides of highways that say "pull over for stopped and emergency vehicles" or some variation of that. It means... give them a full lane because the natural tendency of drivers is to swerve toward what you're looking at. But no one thinks they're going to do that because they're just driving straight.

There was another chase with Beiber, and I guess he was actually in that one, and the paparazzi were right there to take pictures and I asked... why did Beiber and not the photographer get a speeding ticket? It's not possible that the guy with the camera didn't speed to get there before the cops were done.

Synova said...

Also, laws aren't necessary.

Just allow people to shoot stalkers.

Sure, sure, Justin Beiber... but what about Wil Wheaton? Honest to god. The guy goes on a nice romantic beach vacation with his wife and some creepoid doesn't take a picture or two and leave, but sets up permanent.

The laws prevent doing anything useful about it, so is it possible that the law should solve the problem it created by taking away the option of beating the sh*t out of the guy and breaking his camera?

Danno said...

The only thing I can add is- I hope there wasn't any damage to the SUV.

dbp said...

It would be a shame if, on top of potential damage to the SUV, the police booked him, Danno.

Alex said...

It's amazing how brainwashed the teenagers are these days in the cult of big government.

McTriumph said...

Any word on the photo taken inadvertently as he was hit? Who gets credit his estate or the SUV driver?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It would be a shame if, on top of potential damage to the SUV, the police booked him, Danno.

I see what you did there.

Paul Kirchner said...

Excellent unpacking of "meaningful legislation," Ann. Thank you.

The president called for "Meaningful" gun control legislation after the Newtown massacre, and meant exactly what Bieber meant.