Steven Tyler and Snooki Have Something In Common: Pieces of State Legislation Named After Them

National Journal

Have a star with your name on it in Hollywood? That's small potatoes compared to the hottest new honorific a celebrity can receive. If you're truly famous, you'll have a proposed local or state-assembly law named after you. Britney Spears, Tim Tebow, and Donna West (Kanye's late mother) have all received this honor.

This week, Aerosmith front man-turned-reality-TV judge, joins the list.

Here's how it happened. It’s hard being a celebrity on vacation in Hawaii. No, I mean really. It must be. There you are trying to enjoy the beach and relax. Then, like ants to a picnic, photographers come in for the chase, trying to get that shot of you looking fat in a bathing suit. Paparazzi ruin everything.

No more, says Tyler and the Hawaii State Senate act that bears his name. "The paradise of Hawaii is a magnet for celebrities who just want a peaceful vacation," Tyler told the Associated Press via email. "As a person in the public eye, I know the paparazzi are there and we have to accept that. But when they intrude into our private space, disregard our safety and the safety of others, that crosses a serious line that shouldn't be ignored."

The "Steven Tyler Act," which recently passed the state Senate, would allow for celebrities to more easily sue photographers if they feel their privacy being encroached. The act designates that the photos have to be taken “on land owned or leased by the plaintiff.” Trips to the mall are still fair game. This is actually no small matter, as it lies tangent to the issue of freedom of the press. Critics say the bill is pandering to celebrities who may help tourism in the area. Tyler says he’s just trying to retain a sense of privacy in his very public life. The legislation now moves on to the Hawaii House.

The unwanted attention that surrounds celebrity has prompted legislation in other states as well. Take the case of a proposed law named after Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi in New Jersey.

Reality-show participants attract attention in an opposite manner as aging rock stars do. They want their privacy invaded. It’s what they signed up for. But for the communities in which a reality show is filmed, that’s not always so great.

In 2012, the New Jersey Assemblyman Ronald Dancer introduced the “Snookiville Law,” (yes,that is actually how it is referred to in the text), as a means by which towns could say no to or impose fees on productions such as Jersey Shore. Dancer was concerned that taxpayers were being charged by the damages wrought by the swarm of additional tourists and eight drunken "stars." Besides for headlines, the legislation went nowhere.

But in the text of the law, we do get this particularly apt legal description of what a “reality show” is:

    For the purposes of this subsection, "reality shows" means a genre of television or digital media programming that presents purportedly unscripted melodramatic, comical, or entertaining situations that are often manipulated and contrived to create an illusion of reality through direction and post production editing techniques, or that documents actual events, usually featuring non-professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize may be awarded, and often utilizing sensationalism to attract a viewing audience.

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