I was a bit surprised by the moral outrage expressed over the recent publication of stolen celebrity nude photos.
There’s been a general consensus (after the initial slut shaming) that the right thing to do is to boycott consumption of the pictures. Conservative and liberal commentators cautioned readers to refrain from re-posting the photos; not for legal reasons but to protect the women’s right to privacy. Even celebrity gossip king Perez Hilton, who initially posted pics belonging to Jennifer Lawrence, quickly took them down and promised to never publish celebrity nudes again.
I, too, thought it was outrageous that some random geek hackers made it their mission to steal personal and intimate celebrity photos and post them online for all to see. But it’s no surprise given the market for compromising, confidential images of famous women. It’s the logical extension of today’s coverage of celebrity culture, both by the mainstream media and in entertainment tabloids.
Google “wardrobe malfunction” and you’ll find legit news sites devoted to exposing women’s breasts and other private body parts. Popular weeklies like People, US Weekly, OK Magazine, regularly run articles about the latest celebrity nip slip, side boob, or include “has she or hasn’t she” sidebars weighing in on suspected boob jobs. You’ll even see full frontal nudity on occasion, with strategically placed black bars to keep them from being NSFW.
Images of unintentionally exposed female celebrity body parts are everywhere, from The Huffington Post to ETonline.com. Professional paparazzi aggressively pursue unwilling subjects and it’s common for these embarrassing pics of (usually female) celebrities to go viral.
It’s the media money shot: zooming in on a woman’s crotch as she’s getting out of a limo, waiting for wild weather to lift the hem of a dress, or capturing a nipple cover gone rogue under a sheer top. It’s a far cry from stealing someone’s private cache of nude selfies, but it’s still an invasion of privacy.
A telephoto lens managed to snap the heavily guarded, secluded, sunbathing Duchess of Cambridge’s uncovered breasts. It was business as usual when that photographer got paid, and the only outrage came from Buckingham Palace.
Photos of women’s unclothed body parts drive traffic and readership. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ex-girlfriend’s bare boobs on a revenge porn site or an Emmy award-winning actress caught off guard on the Red Carpet. Every woman is fair game.
It’s not just creepy guys driving consumer demand for photos. Men aren’t the target audience of entertainment weeklies. Women dominate the visitor demographics to the most popular celebrity websites. Plus, you don’t have to personally subscribe to magazines to read them; colorful, image-rich covers litter every nail and hair salon across the country. What’s at the end of every grocery store checkout stand? Celebrity tabloids. They’re the perfect impulse purchase aimed at female shoppers.
I’m no angel. I’m as tempted to flip through pages of a gossip rag at my weekly manicure as the next woman. I find it hard to resist the click bait of sexually titillating headlines. But if I believe women should have control over who has access to images of their clothed or unclothed bodies, then I’m going to have to think twice about taking part in this tabloid feeding frenzy.
That seems to be what Perez Hilton had in mind when he issued an apology to Jennifer Lawrence via YouTube last week. After much thought, he vowed to never again post celeb nude photos. Four days later, his website made sure we didn’t miss the image of Rita Ora’s latest wardrobe malfunction.
What’s your view? Do you read entertainment weeklies or other tabloids? Do you think they should publish embarrassing photos of female celebs? Does it matter?
Image credit: USWeekly
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