Posted by Esqui
October 14th, 2009
By now, we are all used to the Mail’s celebrity obsessions. From Angelina Jolie to Natalie Cassidy, the paper never seems short of bitchy non-stories to print about them, simply in order to comment on the large, or short, size of their bodies, type of clothing and who they’re with. But there’s one person who is constantly featured in stories that is quite worrying: Suri Cruise.
Now it’s quite likely, if you don’t read the Mail, that you’ll have no idea who that is – though you may recognise the surname. Suri Cruise is the three-year-old daughter of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. She’s famous for….being the three-year-old daughter of actors Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. And yet the Daily Mail sees fit to print pictures of her going about her everyday life on a regular basis.
A quick check on the Mail’s website would reveal 8 stories in the last 3 weeks alone (2 on the 12th October !), featuring such newsworthy stories as Suri playing hide and seek and a downright disturbing article inviting the reader to scrutinise the child’s ‘kitten heels’. In fact, using the Mail’s own “Explore Suri Cruise” (the irony of the page name is not lost on me) reveals that in her three years, Suri has been referred to in no fewer than 81 stories.
But surely it’s all innocent fun, right? After all, she’s only a kid – isn’t the Mail simply reporting on the frivolities of the daughter of two famous actors as she tries to go about a life within the shadow of her parents’ fame? Sometimes, this is true. A number of the stories are along the lines of “Doesn’t she look like her mother?”, such as here in what is, by the Mail’s standards, a rather reserved story about the girl. But those stories are generally outnumbered by the ones that focus on what Suri is wearing, complete with an unnecessary amount of pictures, some of which are in dubious taste. For example, you can almost hear the photographer calling out to a young woman just out of her teens: “Show us a bit of inside leg!” “Now let’s see you with something all over your face”. But Suri Cruise is not that. She’s not even of schooling age yet.
This highlights another area of Mail hypocrisy. Whilst the paper, in one breath, makes a story about this particular three-year-old wearing high heels and designer dresses – note the suggestive comment: “How soon will it be before she gets her first boyfriend?” – in the other breath, they are berating Heelarious high heels for young children for turning infants into sex objects. The fact is, they are in danger of turning Suri Cruise into exactly that. One can only assume that the intensity of the articles will increase as she gets older and closer to adulthood, when the stories will lose a little more reserve. Take a look at this story about Emma Watson published when she was just 17, or this article about Mick Jagger’s daughter, Gerorgia – again, 17.
And then there are sometimes stories which are inexcusable. Take a look at this. Is it really necessary to publish a story about a three year old girl bursting in to tears because she’s bored? To me, making ‘news’ out of pictures of a child in distress is far beyond what the Mail should be publishing.
But how much blame lies with the Mail itself? After all, do parents not have to give permission to have pictures of their children published? The Mail itself decries such a rule, presumably for this very reason. So, surely it would seem that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would have to agree to the publication? Maybe so, but let’s not forget that the Mail is not taking these pictures, but merely buying them from an agency. In most cases, this is BigPicturesPhoto, a company that specialises in paparazzi photos. So while Cruise and Holmes may agree to allow them to use a certain set of photos about Suri, they’ve got no way of knowing what stories will pop up surrounding them. But it would seem that they don’t mind at all. Tom Cruise was quoted as saying, to the Australian Grazia magazine:
“’I have to say some of those paparazzi shots of my daughter are incredible. As a parent you protect your children but Suri is a very open and warm child and she will just wave to people on the street. She is such happy, fun girl. It is certainly different these days with the media, but people have been very good to us and do give us space so I am not going to be difficult”
Maybe it’s because I’m not used to a level of fame like Tom Cruise, but the level of material published about his child doesn’t strike me as the media being good to them and giving them space.
I suppose we should pay heed to the PCC code of conduct, which has guidelines on involving children in published material. Clause 6 (excluding paragraphs which refer exclusively to school pupils) states:
ii) A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.
iv) Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interest.
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.
And under the section on privacy:
i) Everyone is entitled to respect for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications. Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual’s private life without consent.
ii) It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in a private place without their consent.
Taking these as they’re written (and the commission, being mostly made up of those involved in the printed media would do exactly that), the Mail is technically doing nothing wrong. Clearly, they’ve managed to wedge themselves in a place where what they are doing is morally on rocky ground, but legally and under the PCC code of conduct, absolutely fine.
It seems even the readers are getting wise to it. Looking at the comments on the story about Suri bursting into tears, we have:
“maybe shes sick & tired of having her photograph taken for newspapers everyday !!!!!
- zoe, uk, 3/10/2009 14:43”
“This is getting weird, why is this family in the news virtually every day? Leave this little girl alone to have a childhood!
- Jenny, Dorset, 3/10/2009 13:00”
“PLEASE TAKE YOUR CAMERAS OUT OF HER FACE AND LEAVE THIS CHILD BE.
WHY ARE YOU STALKING HER?
- mark, Manchester, 3/10/2009 13:50”
But while the Mail publishes stories like this, they will get comments like this:
“If you don’t like Suri or don’t want to read about her, just don’t open this page and don’t comment on it, it’s just simple! no one force you to read. I want to see her picture because she’s the cute one delight me, nothing to do with her parents, and my friends like her too…that’s why i read about her all the time.
- wantMOREofSuri, Melbourne, 14/10/2009 15:17”
A spoof? Maybe. But is that likely to stop the Mail’s continuing search for ever-more-creepy stories about Suri Cruise? She may be the offspring of famous people, but she is still a three-year-old child having pictures of herself being printed almost daily, many of which invite readers to scrutinise her clothing and appearance. If this is the case, you have to fear for the kid’s future.