Ben Affleck has expressed his disgust in the way the paparazzi target his three children, calling their actions ‘tasteless at best’ and a threat to their safety.
In a candid interview with Playboy magazine, the actor and father opened up about how he and his wife, actress Jennifer Garner, struggle to shield their kids, eight-year-old Violet, four-year-old Seraphina, and one-year-old Samuel, from the constant onslaught of photographers that follow their every move.
While the 41-year-old accepts that the paparazzi comes hand-in-hand with a career in the spotlight, it is another thing to follow his children.
“You can say what you want about me. You can yell at me with a video camera and be TMZ. You can follow me around and take pictures all you want. I don’t care. There are a couple of guys outside right now. Terrific. That’s part of the deal. But it’s wrong and disgusting to follow children around and take their picture and sell it for money,” says Affleck.
He also highlighted the very real threat to his family’s safety as a result of having photographers document his children’s every move.
“It makes the kids less safe. They used to take pictures of our children coming out of preschool, and so this stalker who had threatened to kill me, my wife and our kids showed up at the school and got arrested. I mean, there are real practical dangers to this.”
The protective father wants people to realise that the cute photographs they see of his kids aren’t all they appear to be.
“My kids aren’t celebrities. They never made that bargain ... As their father it’s my job to protect them from that stuff,” he explains. “I try my very best, and sometimes I’m successful. The tragic thing is, people who see those pictures naturally think it’s sweet. They don’t see the gigantic former gang member with a huge lens standing over a four-year-old and screaming to get the kid’s attention.”
“The kids are always looking down because they’re freaked out and scared of these people," he adds. "And so they yell. Which is fine if you’re Lindsay Lohan coming out of a club, or me or any adult. With kids it’s tasteless at best,” says Affleck.
Garner and Affleck have both been very public about their fight to protect their children from the public’s gaze. Earlier this year Garner joined Halle Berry in her fight to get the Senate Bill 606 passed in California, a bill that would protect the privacy of children of public figures.
During the hearing the actress spoke passionately about why she personally needed the Bill to pass.
“I chose a public life … my three children are private citizens. I love my kids. They’re beautiful and sweet and innocent, and I don’t want a gang of shouting, arguing, lawbreaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are all day every day to continue traumatizing my kids,” she said.
The Bill was successfully passed in the Senate and from January 1, 2014, a paparazzo can be sentenced to a year in jail if they have been convicted of harassing a minor who has been targeted because of his or her parents’ profession (including actors, politicians, singers, and reality TV stars). They can also be fined US$10,000 for the first violation, increasing by US$10,000 for each second and third violation thereafter. Parents or guardians of the child can also seek civil liability.