Look, Lily, we like you. I mean, we really like you. But if you’re trying to impress us by pounding on British paparazzo, even ones that bump into your car, well, it’s not going to work. See, we’ve been around the block a few times, and we know a good pap punch-out when we see one.
In fact, your latest “incident” doesn’t even crack our list of the Best Paparazzi Beatdowns — yes, we keep lists about things like this — if only because, based on the photo we saw, your right cross didn’t actually connect with the photographer’s face. (Nice form, though.) So, if you’re looking to win your way into our hearts — and make our next list — well, then perhaps you should read on, and take notes.
Remember, practice makes make perfect, and since those paparazzi aren’t going anywhere, we figure that with a little coaching, you’ll make our list in no time. So for future reference, Lily, here’s our list of the five greatest celeb-on-pap beatdowns in history.
#5: The Björk Bangkok Beatdown
In 1996, Icelandic ingenue Björk arrived at Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport after a long flight, looking frazzled and on-edge. As she pushed her way past photographers, one female reporter snickered, “Welcome to Bangkok!,” which sent B into a rage. She pounced on the unsuspecting woman, throwing haymakers and grabbing at her hair. The two spilled to the ground, the reporter squealed, and the incident has since become a viral sensation. Björk would later apologize, but early last year, she reportedly went after another paparazzo, tearing his shirt in half at an airport in New Zealand.
#4: Chris Martin
Seriously, who knew the curly-headed Coldplay frontman was a badass? In early 2008, Martin went off the deep end when photographers attempted to snap pics of him and his wife Gwyneth Paltrow leaving a hospital in New York. After one particularly snarky pop offered him congratulations (it was rumored that Paltrow was pregnant, hence the hospital visit) Martin reportedly shoved the man to the ground, swore at him, snatched his camera and told him to “have some respect.” Of course, as he tried to get into a waiting car with the camera, a second photographer intervened, calling Martin “a jerk” and said (in the thickest New Jersey accent imaginable), “You give [the camera] back to him, or this door’s getting broken.” Sometimes, you sort of root for the celebs …
#3: Kanye West’s LAX Meltdown
In September 2008, Kanye West took exception to some overzealous paparazzi at Los Angeles International Airport, so the MC and his bodyguard expressed their displeasure by snatching some paps’ equipment and rather gleefully smashing it. West and his bodyguard were arrested on charges of felony vandalism, though those charges were later reduced when it was revealed that the equipment was not valuable enough to warrant a felony charge. Still, West got significantly more gangster in just about everybody’s book.
#2: Bald Britney’s Umbrella Attack
Ah, the halcyon days of 2007 … The image of a newly-shorn Britney Spears, dressed in shorts and a white hoodie, her eyes wide and manic, wailing on a photographer’s SUV with an umbrella has become iconic, which is a pretty sad comment on our society. It was one of the lowest points in a very low period for the pop star, but happily both Britney and the Ford Explorer survived the ordeal, and have since moved on to bigger and better things.
#1: Sean Penn, The Living Legend
Sure, he’s mellowed a bit over the past few years, but in the ’80s, Penn was so well-known for his punch-ups with paparazzi that scuffles between celebs and photographers became known as “doing a Sean Penn.” There were his memorable brawls with photogs when he was dating and married to Madonna, but the incident that made him a legend occurred in Macao in 1986, when he discovered a photographer hiding in his hotel room. Penn reportedly flipped out, grabbed the pap and hung him by his ankles off a ninth-floor balcony. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder before later being acquitted.
You’ve got a long way to go, Lily!