Paparazzi Regrets Taking Shots Days Before Anthony Bourdain's Suicide

Paparazzi Regrets Taking Shots Days Before Anthony Bourdain's Suicide

A member of the paparazzi captured images of Anthony Bourdain's partner with another man days before his suicide. Conversations are emerging about whether or not they may have influenced his decision to end his life. 

For decades, paparazzi have been an enormous, invasive part of celebrity life. The world is able to keep a close watch on the rich and famous because of people like Rino Barillari, the well-known celebrity photographer who snapped photos of Asia Argento intimately dancing with a French reporter. It is unclear if the images had anything at all to do with Bourdains death, but Barillari feels bad about taking and sharing the images and says he regrets it. We will likely never know exactly what led to Bourdain's tragic suicide, but I find it important to let this event spark a conversation here about the impact of images taken and shared of celebrities and everyday people. 

Having cameras pointed at you constantly is an everyday part of fame, but when mental illness or other personal concerns are present paparazzi, can have major impacts on celebrities' well-being. Do you think there should be more unspoken courtesies among the paparazzi community? What can celebrity photographers do to ensure their images don't harm the lives of celebrities?

Lead image by Clem Onojeghuo, used under Creative Commons.

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Matthew Saville's picture

lol, "conversations are emerging"...

What about the conversation that Bourdain was assassinated by Harvey Weinstein hit-men on loan from Hillary Clinton. :-P You won't hear about that in the media, because everybody's terrified of being accused of spreading fake news now. Interesting...

Rob Davis's picture

It that like a conversation between one person under a bridge?

Vincent Alongi's picture

I don't feel a celebrity holds any more human value than a non-celebrity, but his death is a shame nonetheless. He leaves behind a young child and other family. Suicide or natural death, I am empathetic to anyone's loss.

As the paparazzi no doubt feels horrible, it's a reminder that we're all more than a face on a screen. I hope everyone involves finds peace somehow. We all build our lives over the course of whatever lifetime we have, and whenever it happens, death wipes it all away in a moment.

RiShawn Biddle's picture

Barillari shouldn't feel bad about doing his job. The reality is that Bourdain has long suffered from mental illness and his struggles are independent of some paparazzi photos of his girlfriend. Even if Argento wasn't photographed, Bourdain may have committed suicide anyway because brain chemistry issues work like that.

Instead of blaming paps and girlfriends and all that, we should accept mental illness as a chronic disease like all others and work on building systems that can help the suffering.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't know if he should feel bad about doing his job but I do know, if someone *does* feel bad about doing their job, they should get a different one. Personally, you couldn't pay me enough to do that job but, obviously, there's a market and people who don't mind filling it.

Part of a system to help people suffering from such conditions, would have to include not exacerbating the situation.

RiShawn Biddle's picture

"Part of a system to help people suffering from such conditions, would have to include not exacerbating the situation."

That argument is based on a rather weird notion: That mental illness is caused by outside forces, not by chemical imbalances that may or may not be genetic in nature. Based on Bourdain's own book, he has had suicidal thoughts throughout his life, none of which are related to paparazzi cameras or relationships with women. This is generally true of the mentally ill.

Paparazzis don't do a horrible thing. They merely do a job that is a result of people deciding to make their lives public, either by being in public careers or making sex tapes or whatever. Paps don't cause people to commit suicide. Suicide is a consequence of mental illness, one that requires medication and treatment from physicians.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't follow your argument in the second paragraph. I'm not saying outside forces cause mental illness but rather, outside forces can make things worse. Kinda like a mosquito bites you, causing an itch but scratching it makes it worse. In the case of suicide, I don't think you can make the blanket statement, it's a result of mental illness. In many cases, it's the result of rational, measured reasoning (i.e. incurable cancer in its final stages).

I was careful to *not* say they do a horrible thing. I said I wouldn't do it and *if* they feel bad about it, they should change jobs. In any case, there's a lot of latitude between noble and horrible. Most jobs fall into that area. :-)

RiShawn Biddle's picture

That's not how bipolar and clinical depression work. Put this way: It can be the nicest day outside with no rain, all sunshine, simply, Ice Cube's good day, and someone with clinical depression still wants to commit suicide. It could also be the worst day, and a person suffering from clinical depression may not want to commit suicide.

Basically, the mind of someone with bipolar or clinical depression is akin to a Smashing Pumpkins song. Which makes sense since Billy Corgan is clinically depressed and the group's most-famous song talks about a day being the greatest of all (even as the protagonist wants to commit suicide).

The desire to commit suicide is affected by brain chemistry, not by outside forces. So arguing that outside forces not called medicine can exacerbate what is internal doesn't actually square with how mental illness, particularly bipolar and clinical depression, works in real life.

Methinks you are trying to justify a rather shoddy point, one that justifies horrible acts such as blaming Bourdain's former girlfriend and ex-wives for his suicide.

Deleted Account's picture

My point wasn't nearly as dramatic as you're making it out to be or in any way about blame. Sometimes, it's good to put aside science and just be nice.

I don't know much about mental illness but at least I admit it. (not talking about you) From talking to psychologists and psychiatrists, I'm not sure they know as much about it as they let on. Some of the more honest ones will admit that. Just my experience.

Oh yeah, I have no idea who Billy Corgan is and have only heard of Smashing Pumpkins but not familiar with their music.


michaeljin's picture

"That argument is based on a rather weird notion: That mental illness is caused by outside forces, not by chemical imbalances that may or may not be genetic in nature."

The notion that mental illness (in in this case, depression) is caused by chemical imbalances is actually the weird notion here if you put it up to critical examination. If you take the time to delve into the subject, you might be surprised to see that there's little research that actually concludes this to be the case. It's just a convenient explanation that the general public seems to accept and continue to perpetuate because it's intuitive to treat mental illnesses like other diseases and attribute it to a medical problem that ought to have a medical solution. The mind, however, simply doesn't work like that and something like depressions is often more than just a physical malfunction of the brain or endocrine system.

When you look into it, there are numerous causes of mental illness and while chemical imbalances or genetics might play a part in some cases, the vast majority of the factors associated are actually external or what you might consider to be "outside forces" or, rather, the manner in which we react to those external events.

Mind you, this is coming from someone who does suffer from clinical depression (diagnosed) and has probably done much more reading on the subject than the average person as it happens to be a subject that directly affects me. The one suicide attempt that I had happened while I was over a year on an anti-depressant which seemed to be working just fine up until that point. So no, being depressed or making the decision to end one's own life is not simply the result of a chemical imbalance. Factors such as social support, available coping skills, self-esteem and level of stress factors in your life play a large role in mental health overall.

michaeljin's picture

While I disagree with how paparazzi's make a living in general, I don't think that this guy ought to feel somehow responsible for Bourdain's suicide. As I understand it, we don't know the reason he chose to take his own life so we don't know what did or didn't play a role in the decision. People can be driven over the edge by any number of factors and what might be fine for one person might drive another in a rag, a separate person into alcoholism, and another to hang himself.

Obviously, there are some more egregious acts that have a more predictable outcome, but paparazzi's take photos all of the time without this kind of impact so even if it did play a part, how could this photographer have possibly known?

That having been said, making a living stalking and harassing famous people just seems distasteful to me. i know there's a big public demand for it, but celebrities are human beings, too ,and I can't imagine too many of these photographers enjoying having to suffer the type of intrusions that they inflict on their subjects. It gets pretty absurd.

Randy Wentzel's picture

'come on. I hate pap's as much as anyone else, but Anthony Bourdain and his GF had an publicly open relationship. I highly doubt this photographer's photo had anything do to with Anthony's choice.