It has reported that, over last weekend, naked photos of many (female) celebrities have been leaked online, then taken down. The UK’s Guardian newspaper, one of the more intelligent media outlets here, has managed two pieces (already) on it.
I keep saying how I’m not a film fan, so the names of those involved mean nothing to me. And I’m not that anxious to go looking for them either.
Initially I was going to blog this right after it was reported, but I’ve been holding back on the basis that (a) the story is still unfolding and (b) the initial post was a bit more ‘freewheeling’ and less focussed than usual.
What I will say is that ‘private photos’ have a clue in the name. What I would also say is that, surely in these digital times, the women involved have a right to sue whoever leaked them with regards to intellectual property rights and image rights? And these sort of leaks are a gross invasion of that privacy. It says much about the sort of honour being utilised by the owners and publishers of various online and print blogs and newspapers. They have none!
This blog has long held a policy whereby we would never use a real life photo whereby someone has been snapped (and plenty of naturists are!) without their permission. Voyeur shots, in other words. Yes, I’ll use photos of real life naturists where they can’t be identified, or else are so clearly modelled and looking into the lens that it makes the photo acceptable. Even here, care is almost always required. A girl smiling into the lens of a camera belonging to a now ex-boyfriend might have been happy to pose, but not to be spread (sometimes literally) over computer screens around the globe. So we’ll try and use our best judgement as to whether a photo was knowingly taken with the model’s permission. It’s possible, with hindsight, that we’ve maybe on occasion got that wrong.
It says a lot about the ‘gentlemanly’ values of editors and publishers that the feelings & privacy of some people is tossed away for…money…for…publicity. That’s wrong, in my eyes, and wrong in the eyes of most right-thinking people.
Of course, I can easily take the moral high ground here. This blog isn’t about money, or about ‘a scoop’, so we have no need to really care enough about editorial decision such as those posed on Perez Hilton, editor the website that leaked the photos. I genuinely had no idea who he was, while being aware of the name. I thought it was Paris Hilton’s lesser known brother… 😦
Anyway, it appears that his stock-in-trade is a line of pointless tittle-tattle and ‘controversy’. While an apology is made in the link above, it would appear, from his wiki entry, that controversy is never far away, leading me to conclude that the apology is from the mouth out, and meaningless, Perez Hilton is dumb enough to keep repeating mistakes from which the rest of us would learn, or Perez Hilton doesn’t care. His website and he get the publicity and it’s a case of ‘job done’.
In one sense, it’s not about the celebrities named, it’s all about Perez Hilton and a capacity for controversy that keeps dumb public interest in the often fairly vacuous lives of celebrities alive. I admit it, I’m cynical. After all, how many times have we seen entirely staged bikini/topless shots which appear to be for the purposes of snaring some publicity for the ‘star’ in question?
The whole sorry affair rumbles on as I write. The FBI are involved. Apple’s iCloud security is being questioned, although Apple have said that it’s been a theft of passwords rather than security. What, exactly, do they mean by this? Is it tacit acknowledgement that stars concerned about their ‘privacy’, unless they’ve something to promote, are routinely using 0000 or 1234 as their passwords? I wouldn’t trust some intangible ‘thing’ to solely store a copy of one of my iTunes music purchases, let alone nude photos. I’m going to get that music downloaded onto a hard-drive, where I can have, some mechanical failure notwithstanding, ownership of that download. I wouldn’t be iClouding anything as the sole means of backup, and if it’s nude photos, not even storing on a computer. Off load to a memory stick, password protect it, and pop it in a safe.
Ricky Gervais, the English comedian (and author of ‘The Office’ TV series, which you may now be familiar with in the US) has come in for criticism by tweeting ‘Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pictures of you from your computer by not putting nude pictures of yourself on your computer’. And for this he is attacked for ‘victim blaming’. No. That doesn’t look like ‘victim blaming’, that looks like pretty sound advice to me.
In this digital age I suspect many of us have taken nude photos with a loved one. In my case it’s normal naturist shots, we’ve not made ‘a sex tape’ nor have we made intimate photos of us ‘performing sex acts’, as the media phrase it. Would I put those naturist shots online? No. Not if I’m clearly identifiable. Hypocrisy from an avowed naturist and (virtual) naturist blogger? I don’t think so. I have children whose peers, in 5 or 10 years, might not view those photos, ordinary holiday snaps, in the same way I do. And who, themselves, might be coiled in embarrassment at photos of Mum wearing nothing. So for that reason, no, not now. In 20 years time, when my children are independent adults, and maybe naturists themselves, who knows?
While the appearance of anyone (celebrity or well rounded, valuable, anonymous member of society) performing any sort of ‘sex act’ films would understandably be exceptionally embarrassing, the response to ‘leaked nude photos’ says much about our own perception of our naked bodies. I have precisely zero idea if any of the ladies leaked over the weekend have appeared nude in any of their films (in which case a better lit and shot screen capture is probably online somewhere anyway), but I’m guessing that some of them may have done. At the male director’s request. ‘For the sake of the plot’. Particularly in their early careers, where they’re trying to get their foot on the bottom rung of the movie industry.
So…how much more embarrassing do these leaks get? Is there some unwritten rule whereby ‘topless’ is acceptable in movies (for the sake of the plot, you understand) but the embarrassment comes from the revelation that, away from the make-up and hair styling department of the movie set, actresses have…vaginas? Pubic hair (or not)? Cellulite on their thighs? A facial mole that make up usually covers up or photographers airbrush?
In a sense, what we need to be doing is not not focussing on this Perez Hilton douche, but calmly applauding the women involved. Yes, it’s an invasion of privacy but we, as a society, need to simply be saying ‘yep, you’ve got a penis Hollywood A lister…you’ve got a vagina, best supporting actress’ and move on without the blink of an eye or…well, any sense of caring about it.
Which brings me to Marilyn Monroe. When she was trying to get her foot on the movie industry ladder, in order to pay the rent, she posed nude. By the time she was a big star, these photos came back with the purpose of haunting or humiliating her. And even in those more sexually repressed, ‘moralistic’ times, her response and star quality emerges immediately. Her reaction to the storm in a teacup (by our standards: storm in a bucket, perhaps, in the 1950s) is best reported on the Buzzfeed website. Classy lady! 🙂
Where Buzzfeed hit the nail on the head is that the revelation of nude Monroe photos fed into her pre-existing image, whereas with Jennifer Lawrence, they do not. As I don’t know who Jennifer Lawrence is, I’m not in a position to comment or argue on that fact. But even if these photos are ‘explicit sex acts’, I’m not sure how we can logically conclude that it doesn’t ‘fit with the image’. The ‘image’ is a failed argument. The clue’s in the name, it’s an ‘image’. Is the suggestion that we think of the women involved as never having had sex in their lives? Never performed
What these leaks do, though, is simply highlight the fact that nudity remains a taboo, which is disappointing. We’ve not normalised it in any real sense. Yep, it’s visible everywhere, but still not totally normalised. The reaction to this leak shows that it’s not fully normalised in our minds or in the minds of the models themselves or those doing the leaking. It still sells.
Of course, I suspect it always will. We’ll still queue to see paintings of Renaissance nudes in 100, 200 years time (unless religious zealots haven’t destroyed them all).
Earlier this week, I posted about Kiera Knightly posing topless , a post that passed without much remark, either on this site or anywhere else. I believe that in cases like this Ms Knightly has taken ownership of the situation, to the point of being self-deprecating about her small breasts (there’s nothing wrong with small breasts! 🙂 ) and the world has gone ‘ho hum, Kiera Knightly, topless…next!’
Perhaps it’s the lack of ownership over the situation that is vexing those actresses to some degree. I don’t know.
Glad to see I’m not alone in my ‘humans have a weird attitude to nakedness’ view.
From The Guardian’s ‘comments’ section.
Interesting that someone makes the comment ‘this cult of celebrity is hilarious’. It begs the question that, if celebs are putting nude photos on the cloud, then hundreds or thousands of others have too. And if they have, isn’t there the slightest danger that many of these anonymous people, school principals, say, have much, much more to lose from their publication than these ‘celebrities’? I assume, when the dust settles, each and every one of the actresses involved will have had a dedicated PR team who will turn the revelation of nude photos to their (the celebrities) career advantage.
*the post has been questioned as ‘part one’ on the basis that there may be more revelations, further twists, in this story