Julia Fox. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

Enter Julia Fox, a paparazzi gold mine.

The early 2000s was the golden age of paparazzi, and photos taken then (whether Britney Spears wearing a ‘Dump Him’ t-shirt on a coffee run or Kim Kardashian takes a painful sip of vodka at the club) have lived on as stained memories of past decades.

Over the years we have become increasingly fascinated with the lives of celebrities, but when the internet became available to everyone, social media usurped the paparazzo. So why do we feel like we’re going backwards? The shock factor of paparazzi photos seems to be attracting attention again. But this time, it’s thanks to Julia Fox. And unlike its predecessors, it is in the game.

Let me paint a picture. In the early 2000s, celebrity culture was changing. The internet was becoming a mainstream product, the tabloids were in their prime, and fans had more access to the stars than ever before.

Due to the profitability of celebrity photos, this period has been dubbed the “gold rush era” from the paparazzi industry, prompting many to join the field. Photographers stalked and harassed their subjects, and vile invasions of privacy — like women upskirts as they got into cars — were normalized.

The media stuffed itself with nasty headlines that were usually focused on mental health breakdowns, body shaming or relationship scandals. Popular subjects – or victims – included Spears, Paris Hilton, Lil’ Kim and Lindsay Lohan. At the time, there was both a public obsession and revulsion for young women in Hollywood, and it was peddled by the paparazzi.

Paris Hilton has often used her moments on camera to provide provocative soundbites or imagery, such as speaking ill of a famous peer or posting the purchase of her own leaked sex tape. Hilton was fluent in the language of paparazzi sensationalism, and Julia Fox now carries that torch.

With the rise of social media came the proverbial death of the tabloid magazine. Today, paparazzi photos are worth much less than they were in the 2000s, and a a paparazzo’s earnings can vary widely depending on the interest or shockingness of their subject. Enter Julia Fox, a paparazzi gold mine.

In a few months, Fox has become a master in the art of virality. As the self-proclaimed “#1 hustler,” the star provided a catalog of weird quotes and outlandish fashion statements, like her human hair clutch, dangerously pointy stilettos, and endless variations of ultra-low-rise pants. And more recently, the star was photographed shopping in a black bra and underwear set.

Julia Fox is a walking meme in the best way. Her philosophy can be summed up in this quote she gave to The cup: “Celebrities are not that important… We are in the midst of a pandemic. Give people something to talk about. Do your fucking service, do your job. It’s a job she takes seriously.

His wild persona is just that: a character. For example, when she went out with her one-year-old son, Julia Fox asked the paparazzi to refrain from filming her and offered to do a planned shoot with them instead. Unlike most paparazzi subjects of yore, she is in control of her story.

Today’s paparazzi culture exists in a post-#MeToo world, and this distinction matters. The modern cultural revival of the early 2000s sparked a sense of remorse for the way young women in Hollywood have been demonized Meanwhile. And it’s changing the way we perceive all types of media, including paparazzi content.

Someone who could once be seen as “off the rails” on a magazine cover is now “iconic” on TikTok. And TBH, there’s something empowering about seeing Miley Cyrus in a punk LBD and fishnets tease that her favorite book is “The Holy Bible.”

The widespread return of Y2K fashion sparked a fascination and nostalgia for the messy celebrity landscape that existed at that time. The paparazzi culture of the early 2000s has become its own aesthetic, with brands like Blumarine channeling that same energy with contemporary collections.

For some reason, we want to know what famous people do. And when I see Julia Fox step out in a gravity-defying outfit, I can’t help but smile because I know she’s paid.

The paparazzi photo is back, but this time it seems less exploitative. And like Julia Fox might saythis evolution is “a masterpiece”.

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