Celebs

Tim McGraw swats grabby fan: Should celebrities fight back?

July 18, 2014 at 4:15 PM ET

Image: Tim McGraw
AP file
Tim McGraw swatted a fan who tried to grab him during a show.

Fans rarely get the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite celebrities, but when they do, some try to take advantage.

Country music superstar Tim McGraw was performing at Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta on Sunday when a female fan grabbed him, ripping his jeans in the process. Video footage obtained by TMZ shows McGraw forcefully slapping the fan in response, causing her head to snap back.

The incident happened despite his wife, fellow country powerhouse Faith Hill, giving a fan a talking-to after McGraw was similarly violated during a 2007 show the couple was performing at. “Somebody needs to teach you some class, my friend," Hill said to that offender during their set. "You don't go grabbin' somebody else's ... somebody's husband's b----, you understand me? That's very disrespectful."

Certainly, McGraw and other celebrities who are violated by fans have a right to defend themselves, but to what lengths? And should they even have to?

Celebrity publicist Lizzie Grubman, who represents "Dancing With the Stars" pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, said that the venue and the security team should have never allowed the situation to escalate.

"No one has a right to touch a female,” Grubman told TODAY.com. “But (McGraw) obviously felt unsafe. And where was security?

"The venue should be held responsible. I feel bad for him and I feel bad for the girl as well," Grubman noted. "We are all there to entertain the fans. It should never come to that."

Giovanni Rosania, a criminal defense attorney based in Long Island, New York, doesn't believe that the country star will get in trouble for what he did.

"Since she initiated contact, he probably wouldn't be charged for a crime," he said. "Is it proper self-defense? I don't think so. It would need to be reasonable under the circumstances, and he'd need to be in imminent danger. ... Any time you put your hands on someone, there could be civil recourse, especially if there are injuries. Is it a great case? I don't think so."

A rep for McGraw defended the star's actions. “At the end of the night during the encore, Tim was singing out in the audience and someone firmly grabbed onto his leg and wouldn't let go as he was moving through the crowd," the rep told E! News. "He instinctively swatted to try to keep them from ripping his jeans (which they succeeded at doing!), and so he could get to more fans who could slap hands with him before the end of the show. He didn't know who had grabbed him and was simply trying to keep his jeans from being torn."

Matthew McMahon, a civil trial attorney based in New York, said, "When she was holding his leg, he had every right to use gentle hands to remove her. ... But it looks like she took her hands off and then he still slapped her. Once her hands were off, he should have walked away."

Beyoncé had a similar experience during a performance in Brazil back in September, when a fan tried to pull her off stage. But the pop star, being the consummate professional, managed to get free with the help of security, and kept on singing.

Performers such as Justin Bieber, 50 Cent and Morrissey have also had to deal with unwanted physical attention from fans in the past, but have not reacted in the same way as McGraw.

It’s hard to know the right way to respond to overzealous fans, but it seems like fighting back is probably not the best answer.

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