Celebrity photo agencies throughout Hollywood laid off over 100 paparazzi Monday, claiming the move was necessary due to the unexpected absence of their two most popular subjects.
"With Paris in jail and Lindsay Lohan in rehab, we just can't afford to keep so many paparazzi on the payroll," said Flash CelebPhotos spokesperson Craig Middleton. "We can't realistically pay more than 17 people to track Brangelina."
L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca had released Hilton to house arrest for undisclosed health reasons last week. But after a public outcry, Hilton was brought back before the judge and was returned to jail. Lohan, meanwhile, has been in rehab at Promises treatment center in Malibu for several weeks.
"Since Paris and Lindsay have been out of the picture. I haven't been able to get any good shots," said unemployed paparazzo Miguel Andreas. "The best I got last week was David Faustino ('Bud' on 'Married with Children') giving change to a customer at Popeye' Chicken. Needless to say, I wasn't able to sell it."
Paparazzi industry insiders say their industry' recession is only worsened by Britney Spears' decision to vacation in Puerto Vallarta. While unflattering photos that show her wearing a white-and-turquoise bikini that revealed her not-so-toned backside have appeared, they were all taken by Mexican paparazzi.
"It' outrageous that our jobs are being stolen by Mexican photographers who sell their pictures of Britney' flabby ass for just $5 each," said Andreas. "I can't compete with those low wages and still feed my family."
Celebrity media ethicists argued that while photo agencies may save money in the short-term, the layoffs are bad for the industry and democracy in the long-run.
"When you make such severe cuts in the paparazzi, you aren't prepared for the next potential crisis," Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten wrote in a recent column. "I fear that our nation is now woefully underprepared for the possibility that one of the Olsen Twins cold come to visit from New York and puke her dinner in an alleyway, or get caught sniffing a few lines in a bathroom. What if we don't get those photos because the paparazzi is stretched too thin? These are frightening questions."