By Assia Angelini
Media sensationalism can start small, and if gone unchecked, it can spiral into excusing serial harassment under the guise of content.
In 2011, a fan purposefully presented Madonna with a bouquet of hydrangeas. Unaware that her reception of the gift was being videotaped, she thanked him before quickly tucking the gift under the conference table as she leaned in to her neighbor and admited that she absolutely hates hydrangeas.
In the aftermath, Madonna was scolded for her rude behavior towards a fan and pushed to publicly apologize.
A seemingly innocent exchange was revealed to be a clever ruse by Vitalii Sediuk to cause Madonna to lose face.
If only his so-called pranks had continued in this vein.
In 2012, at the red carpet premier of Men in Black 3, a fan asked Will Smith if he could have a hug.
Smith good-naturedly agreed to this interaction, but when the fan escalated it beyond what was agreed by kissing him, Smith understandably reacted by slapping him.
At the center of this celebrity interaction gone wrong was once again Vitalii Sediuk, acting with much less cunning and subtlety than before.
Instead, this time he opted for shock value by kissing an unsuspecting Will Smith.
Smith also received public backlash for slapping a fan and was pushed to answer for the situation.
Sediuk also issued a public apology which, in retrospect, was insincere considering the following occurrences.
Fast forwarding past incidents of rushing onstage during the 2013 Grammy Awards, subsequently getting suspended, and latching onto Bradley Cooper’s legs like a monster from under the bed, Sediuk still did not stop.
In 2014, Leonardo DiCaprio walked down the red carpet at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, waving to fans, politely smiling to reporters.
A usual red carpet evening took a turn for the worse when Vitalii Sediuk sexually harassed DiCaprio by lunging towards him and hugging his crotch.
Although clearly uncomfortable with this spontaneous and uninvited molestation, DiCaprio managed to stay even tempered as security removed Sediuk.
These incidences didn’t stop in 2014. Sediuk continued to harass celebrities and disrupt organized events by streaking (New York Fashion Week 2014), crawling under America Ferrera’s gown (Cannes Film Festival, 2014), burying his face in Brad Pitt’s crotch (Maleficent Premiere, 2014), shoving Kim Kardashian (Balmain Fashion Show, 2014), and stripping and giving Ciara an unwelcome hug in nothing but a g-string (Paris Fashion Week, 2014).
Seduik also made headlines for kissing Miranda Kerr without consent (Louis Vuitton runway show, 2015), rushing Gigi Hadid and lifting her off the ground from behind (Milan, 2016), and, most recently, attempting to literally kiss Kim Kardashian’s butt (L’Avenue, 2016).
It’s appalling how there can be a string of incidents where one man continuously physically harasses celebrities and receives cheap publicity and shock value rather than handcuffs and time behind bars.
What about this situation suddenly makes it okay?
Who or what allows for this man to continuously gain access to these events and allows him to keep profiting off of the violation of other people?
First and foremost my thoughts go to seedy, disreputable, and sensationalist news outlets who hold no standards, respect no privacy, and twist the harassment of those in the public eye into something that will sell.