In South African slang “pap” means spineless, wet or without character.* Why anyone would want to make a demand for immediate pap (of such a description) is beyond me. And yet, in its chosen company name PapNow! unintentionally hits upon the central tenet of its bilious enterprise – namely a mindless demand for crap.

PapNow! announced itself in June as the place to buy and sell your own celebrity pictures.

The venture takes advantage of the fact everyone has a camera. In my view, PapNow! exploits peoples’ contorted versions of citizenship in a celebrity culture; that they should mimic, stalk and waste time over the looks of others. PapNow! is, one assumes, in it to make money. It is – in the guise of a business model – the reckless, wolfish, jealous little brother of citizen journalism.

Its online presence might just be enough for users to convince themselves PapNow! has value.

There may be other sites like PapNow!; I haven’t bothered the time to do research because I know I’d say the same about each of them. Besides, high value paparazzi shots will always find their monetised routes to the tabloids anyway. My criticism of PapNow! is based purely on how it lowers the bar for entry into the already bottom-feeding paparazzi industry.

The timing is remarkable. Last week, The News of the World scuttled it’s destroyed brand in the wake of the phone hacking scandal that united Britain in disgust. As far as the NOTW is concerned it’s good riddance to bad rubbish, but I worry now that newspapers’ role as arbiters of gossip and candid snaps may be adopted by the docile masses. By process of unconscious assimilation, could the consumers become the producers? Could we end up with a dominant visual culture of only street scuffles, fashion commentary, nipple-slips, antagonism, and up-skirt photography?

Hope not.

By the by, the etymology of the word paparazzi is rather interesting.

* I don’t know if the South African use of the word is innocuous or offensive. If it is rude I don’t want to offend anyone by its use, but the analogy served the argument well.