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Why Celebrity Photo Scandals Aren't Scandals at All
Let's look at the facts...
- These photos were taken on their cell phones.
- They were not intended for the public to see them.
- The celebrities "at fault" are all of legal age and consent to be taking these photos of themselves.
- There's a difference between being nude and being scantily clad - learn that difference.
- Celebrities, first and foremost, are human. Why do they not deserve the same rights to privacy as "normal" people do just because we know their names?
- The hackers should be punished for obtaining the photos, not the celebrities for taking them.
- Almost everyone has something on their phone (or elsewhere) about themselves that are for specific eyes only.
- Why, as a society, do we care so much about the naked body?
Recent Photo Hacking
We've all heard about it by now, because these instances are nothing new: private photos of celebrities - including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton most recently, along with many others - have been hacked and leaked to the public. From there, they've been shared all over social media and have spread like wild fire. Most reactions to this story are, surprisingly, against the celebrities: they shouldn't have the photos in the first place, celebrities shouldn't expect privacy, etc.
On behalf of society, I'm embarrassed that this story is even considered scandalous.
Jennifer Lawrence, and a dozen other victims of this photo hacking, are not at fault for these "scandals." How could they be? If someone is wearing a watch and another person steals it, is the owner of the watch at fault for wearing it in the first place, making it available for someone to steal? No? Yeah, I didn't think so.
Society's obsession with these kind of photos is for one reason only: they contain people, celebrities, in clothes (or lack thereof) deemed inappropriate for the eyes of the general public. Which is why they were taken privately on purpose, where the public was never supposed to see them. But are we really that shocked by nudity still, in the country that boasts about our freedoms, in 2014? How can we claim to be an advanced race if we still giggle at the mention of certain body parts or shun something as natural as a topless woman?
Jennifer Lawrence, in particular, was not naked in her photos. She was revealing her body from the waist up, and the face in the photo proves that it's clearly her.
Who cares that she took these photos of herself? Who cares that any celebrity takes "compromising" photos of themselves? Who cares that they photographed their own bodies, clothed or not, privately on their own individual mobile devices?
I bet every single person with a cell phone or camera has taken a photo that they wouldn't want everyone to see. Does that mean their privacy should be violated too?
Society has conditioned everyone to believe that nudity, for some reason, is bad and should be repressed and resisted. Arguably the most natural thing in the world, and we as Americans can't handle it. All over the world, there are topless destinations, societies of nudists, and tribes of people clothed less appropriately than our censorship would allow.
Call it uptight, prudish, close-minded, whatever you want - either way, our opinion of nudity is what's wrong, not the nudity itself. Nudity shouldn't be a point of humiliation and ostracism in the first place.
The hacker is affiliated with the forum website 4chan, where millions of users post pictures, topics, and statements for points of discussion. This week's post? Nude photos of celebrities.
Why are we defending the hacker at all? If I hear one more time that "the photos shouldn't be there in the first place" I'll scream.
Because these pictures are privately taken, they're scandalous, but if they're in the centerspread of a Playboy magazine they're acceptable? How, in any way, does this make sense? The context of nudity doesn't matter, because shockingly enough, everyone is naked under their clothes. Every single human being on the entire planet is capable and guilty of nudity every single day, but as soon as this is documented, it becomes something practically criminal, as if these celebrities caught in the act should wear scarlet letters on themselves from now on.
Another complaint is that the celebrities with these photos - reps have confirmed for Jennifer and Kate that the photos are legitimate - will no longer serve as role models for the young women that looked up to them before. Why wouldn't they still be role models? These photos were meant to be private and should have never been shown to the public, so why would that make any difference in how we see these celebrities now? They're not bad people. These aren't even mistakes. When I think of Jennifer now, I'm not going to remember that she took topless pictures of herself. I'd associate her with her acting career before anything else, and if you can't find yourself doing that after all this, then you're part of the problem.
What do you think about this problem?
Celebrities' Tweets of Sympathy and Disgust
"The way in which you share your body must be a CHOICE. Support these women and do not look at these pictures. Remember, when you look at these pictures you are violating these women again and again. It's not okay. Seriously, do not forget the person who stole these pictures and leaked them is not a hacker: they're a sex offender. The 'don't take naked pics if you don't want them online' argument is the 'she was wearing a short skirt' of the web. Ugh."
"Posting pics hacked from someone's cell phone is really no different than selling stolen merchandise."
"Some of these pictures are fake, my own included. Regardless - I ask you all - do not share the links. Don't even look at the photos."
Mary E. Winstead
"To those of you looking at photos I took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home, hope you feel great about yourselves. Knowing those photos were deleted long ago, I can only imagine the creepy effort that went into this. Feeling for everyone who got hacked."
Just because their bodies are constantly under the scrutinizing eyes of the public, doesn't mean these celebrities don't deserve their privacy. In addition, it's irrelevant that Kate Upton poses for magazines in her underwear (and sometimes less). Those photos, taken professionally, are given her full consent and are understandably intended to be produced for the public. She knows exactly what's going on when she steps onto that photo shoot and strips down to a bikini; she has given the photographer and the rest of the staff of the magazine documented and legal consent to post the photographs of her in whichever way they choose, so long as it is with her express permission. Her body belongs to no one but her - it's all completely her choice, and every other woman whose consent was unconsidered in similar cases as well.
Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton did not choose to share these photos, and that's truly where the criminal factor of this situation lies. They were violated, and like Lena Dunham tweeted, the violation should be considered a sex offense because of the content of the material.
This photo of Kate Upton below is what she does for a living. She's a young girl, in excellent physical shape, who models bikinis and other clothes. She poses for the covers of magazines and stories on the inside, and has become a face that is synonymous with beauty and sexuality. Is this any reason to dehumanize her? Does she deserve less of a right to privacy and body ownership than any other person?
She invokes in us an envy - girls want to be her, and guys want to be with her. Does that merit a violation of privacy, just because she's been built up as the perfect girl?
And Jennifer Lawrence. JLaw. Katniss Everdeen. Is she less of a human, too? Because we've seen her topless, should we ostracize her and criticize her? Was anyone surprised at what they saw if they did see her pictures, or were you expecting something different, like maybe a third arm tucked in there somewhere?
She's still a role model for young girls. Maybe now even more so in the face of this slamming of her public figure. She has held her head high, which was the perfect way to handle the situation, and she knows she was violated. We as a public owe her the decency to see her as the wonderful person that she is. She's an actor, not a sex object. And that's how she should remain in the eyes of the public, moviegoers, and young girls everywhere.