Making Celebrities Pay for Their Bad Behavior—Through the Nose

Question: Has our cultural obsession with celebrity helped or \r\nhurt women's rights?

Gloria Allred: Well there \r\ndefinitely is a culture of celebrity and a fascination with it. And I \r\nthink generally the media is very interested in cases involving \r\ncelebrities. I do represent a lot of women who have been hurt by the \r\nrich, the powerful, and the famous. Many of whom are celebrities and so \r\nwhile the... we're on the end of representing essentially the \r\nunderdog—the typical person against the celebrity. Now celebrities have \r\ntheir highly paid legal mouthpieces. They have their publicist. They \r\nhave their promoters, they're managers, their agents, various and sundry\r\n hanger-oners, groupies, fans, and others who will be supportive of them\r\n because celebrities have often been in millions of living rooms through\r\n television or the Internet or through feature films.

Often they \r\nare well-liked, well-known, and supported by many. And we're taking the \r\nperson who is not known at all, a typical person, but who may have been \r\nhurt by the arrogance and the sense of entitlement and privilege the \r\ncelebrity has, and inflicted an injustice on our clients. So it is a \r\nvery David-and-Goliath type of situation where the David or Davida \r\nversus Goliath. But I'm a gorilla fighter—that's G-U-E-R-R. And I am \r\nvery happy to take on these battles where there's legal merit to the \r\nclaim and what we want to do is we want to equalize the power. And win \r\nas much justice as is possible for our client who has been the victim of\r\n injustice by celebrities.

Celebrities are used to being able to \r\nget whatever they want, do whatever they want, whenever they want, \r\nhowever they want. They're often surrounded by yes-people, who don't \r\nexercise their judgment to say "no" to the celebrity or even suggest \r\nthat they might be doing something wrong or even illegal. Because those \r\npeople surround them in their entourage sometimes are afraid that they \r\nwill be risking their own jobs if they anger the celebrity by telling \r\nthem the truth.

I'm in the business of letting the celebrities \r\nknow what the truth is, that we know it, that what they've done is \r\nwrong. They need to be accountable for it. They need to compensate my \r\nclients in an appropriate case if they have hurt them, and if there's \r\nlegal merit to the claim. And so that's what we do and this is shocking \r\nto most celebrities. They're not used to being challenged at all. And \r\nespecially by a woman. And they have generally underestimated the people\r\n they have hurt. Not realized that those people do know enough to \r\ncontact me or another attorney, and do that they have rights and will \r\nexercise them in an appropriate case.

So I don't know why they \r\nshould be shocked. I've been practicing for 35 years. It would not be a \r\nsurprise to most people that a lot of women who have been hurt by \r\ncelebrities would come to me. But somehow sometimes these celebrities \r\nare just in total shock or express surprise. But I'm a practical person,\r\n they know that I'm reasonable, that they can resolve things with me. If\r\n they're going to be people who are knowing how to open up a dialogue. \r\nBut if they want to battle it to the end I'm there for the battle.

\r\n Why do celebrities continue to do things that carry such immense \r\npotential risks?

Gloria Allred:  Because they can. \r\nBecause they do. And because in most cases they get away with it. So \r\nwhere they can be challenged, should be challenged, and where we have \r\nevidence to support our claim, we will challenge them, if our client \r\nwants us to, because we're not afraid of them. I've challenged \r\ngovernment. I've challenged big corporations. I've challenged small \r\nbusiness. I've challenged wrong-doers. Famous, infamous and not known at\r\n all. Batterers, killers, discriminators, sexual harassers, those who \r\nsexually abuse children—many, many people.

And, you know, I'm not\r\n in fear. I know we're doing what is right. We're standing up for \r\ntypical people who would otherwise have no voice and have no power, and \r\nwould not otherwise have anyone to advocate for them or enforce their \r\nrights. So the celebrities can say and do whatever they're going to say \r\nand do but we're going to do what we need to do that is legal and \r\npeaceful to vindicate the rights of our clients.

Recorded on June 9, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman

Bringing a legal case against someone who is famous and powerful can be a "David and Goliath type of situation," says the lawyer. But she's "in the business of letting the celebrities know what the truth is."

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