Question: Has our cultural obsession with celebrity helped or
hurt women's rights?
Gloria Allred: Well there
definitely is a culture of celebrity and a fascination with it. And I
think generally the media is very interested in cases involving
celebrities. I do represent a lot of women who have been hurt by the
rich, the powerful, and the famous. Many of whom are celebrities and so
while the... we're on the end of representing essentially the
underdog—the typical person against the celebrity. Now celebrities have
their highly paid legal mouthpieces. They have their publicist. They
have their promoters, they're managers, their agents, various and sundry
hanger-oners, groupies, fans, and others who will be supportive of them
because celebrities have often been in millions of living rooms through
television or the Internet or through feature films.
are well-liked, well-known, and supported by many. And we're taking the
person who is not known at all, a typical person, but who may have been
hurt by the arrogance and the sense of entitlement and privilege the
celebrity has, and inflicted an injustice on our clients. So it is a
very David-and-Goliath type of situation where the David or Davida
versus Goliath. But I'm a gorilla fighter—that's G-U-E-R-R. And I am
very happy to take on these battles where there's legal merit to the
claim and what we want to do is we want to equalize the power. And win
as much justice as is possible for our client who has been the victim of
injustice by celebrities.
Celebrities are used to being able to
get whatever they want, do whatever they want, whenever they want,
however they want. They're often surrounded by yes-people, who don't
exercise their judgment to say "no" to the celebrity or even suggest
that they might be doing something wrong or even illegal. Because those
people surround them in their entourage sometimes are afraid that they
will be risking their own jobs if they anger the celebrity by telling
them the truth.
I'm in the business of letting the celebrities
know what the truth is, that we know it, that what they've done is
wrong. They need to be accountable for it. They need to compensate my
clients in an appropriate case if they have hurt them, and if there's
legal merit to the claim. And so that's what we do and this is shocking
to most celebrities. They're not used to being challenged at all. And
especially by a woman. And they have generally underestimated the people
they have hurt. Not realized that those people do know enough to
contact me or another attorney, and do that they have rights and will
exercise them in an appropriate case.
So I don't know why they
should be shocked. I've been practicing for 35 years. It would not be a
surprise to most people that a lot of women who have been hurt by
celebrities would come to me. But somehow sometimes these celebrities
are just in total shock or express surprise. But I'm a practical person,
they know that I'm reasonable, that they can resolve things with me. If
they're going to be people who are knowing how to open up a dialogue.
But if they want to battle it to the end I'm there for the battle.
Why do celebrities continue to do things that carry such immense
Gloria Allred: Because they can.
Because they do. And because in most cases they get away with it. So
where they can be challenged, should be challenged, and where we have
evidence to support our claim, we will challenge them, if our client
wants us to, because we're not afraid of them. I've challenged
government. I've challenged big corporations. I've challenged small
business. I've challenged wrong-doers. Famous, infamous and not known at
all. Batterers, killers, discriminators, sexual harassers, those who
sexually abuse children—many, many people.
And, you know, I'm not
in fear. I know we're doing what is right. We're standing up for
typical people who would otherwise have no voice and have no power, and
would not otherwise have anyone to advocate for them or enforce their
rights. So the celebrities can say and do whatever they're going to say
and do but we're going to do what we need to do that is legal and
peaceful to vindicate the rights of our clients.
Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman