Truthfully, we should be (somewhat) past the era of the claim to fame being achieved through the haunting sex tape, or dabble in pornography. Anyone that makes one today in 2014 with hopes it will lead towards eventual respect as an actress, singer, or model (while beforehand for whatever reasons did work occasionally in one’s favor like Tracie Lords or Sasha Grey), would be a desperate attempt at relevancy, as exhibited through some of television’s current reality “stars”.
In mentioning the fracas of the world of celebrity or entertainment-led sex, it is apparent that the new obsession is the sharing, selling, and exploitation of sexuality and women’s bodies through the recent leaked photos of female celebrities in the nude. The fiasco that has been labeled “the Fappening” is the biggest of its kind, and while scandals like these have occured before in the late ’50s with some of the earliest gossip magazines being published then (exposing the beautiful likes of Rock Hudson and Marilyn Monroe) and even in the late 70s to the 80s where explicit images of Madonna, Vanessa Williams and Arnold Schwarzneggear nearly tainted their careers (but they all bounced back), this online maelstrom has an edge of terror to it because it fully exposes the seedy reality of fandom, fame, the good, the bad, and mortification of the Internet, and confirms the odd entitlement that is still being exercised on who own’s a woman’s body aside or except for the woman herself.
When the first batch of photos were leaked in August of 2014 without the consent of the following women such as model Kate Upton, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, and actresses Hayden Panettiere, Vanessa Hudgens, Kirsten Dunst, Lake Bell, and Kaley Cuoco, I paid the news no mind but I will admit two things: it seemed very surreal because it was such a copious amount of photos released (and all in the same provocative manner) and yes, I was one of those people in which I concluded: maybe they shouldn’t have taken those photos because the aftermath is that there too many bored jerks in this world that want to take advantage of such intimate moments captured. So while I personally have tried to be cautious with what I do, even if it’s thankfully not me, I did find it gross and uncalled for, and seemed like such odd revenge for people these hackers had never met. I somewhat distanced myself from it though I did appreciate some of the thoughtful commentary that emerged in defense of the women that were violated, particulary from actresses Lena Dunham and Emma Watson.
Some weeks had passed and the fervor subsided a bit, but it was gaining coverage with hints of the FBI getting involved and links still very much available online. When “the Fappening 2.0” dawn upon again in September, and now female athletes were being “shamed” by these imbeciles like Hope Solo, more actresses like Gabrielle Union and Megan Good, Amber Heard and even Rihanna, I definitely scrunched my face and actually clicked on the news briefs about it. I thought to myself, “now this is getting out of hand”. These terrible people released more photos again without consent and from what seemed to be a vault they had acquired on their own. Was this really happening? And what kind of word is “Fappening”? And “4chan”? What the hell is that?
Online, there was a lot of discussion about how the leaked photo scandal was just another example of the maltreatment of women in the media, and while some female celebrities became famous through sex-ridden incidents such as Kim Kardashian (who was included in the second run of photos), to some in their defense, the photo scandal was still extremely unbecoming of America. Women, in and out of the entertainment business, already deal with the difficult balance of being sexy and intelligent and being respected for it by the opposite sex and even their female counterparts and with songs like T.I.’s “No Mediocre” and the great book of essays by Roxane Gay titled Bad Feminist, women are being told left and right and upside down so many ways to go about being a strong woman and woman that can do whatever she pleases without judgment.
When the 2.0 hit, I then decided to do some searching myself, not because I really, really wanted to see these celebs naked, but I wanted to know what the big deal was about. Like the last thing I actually logged on Facebook, I read some updates from guys with their cheesy thank yous for Jennifer Lawrence and Ms. Lawrence didn’t approve of the pictures being shown in the first place. To start off with, I have no idea how Reddit works, the website where a lot of these malicious and mean-spirited links can be found, but I did remember from my PerezHilton.com days that some gossip websites indeed carry a salacious, expose edge to them, and I’m not going to disclose them here, but through my memory I recalled the addresses and from there, one page led to another, and soon I found the leaked celebrity photos.
Wow. When I found them, I did feel really bad for the women violated. I say “Wow” not because of what I saw (okay, maybe a few photos were clearly not meant for the world to see and yes, I was a tad shocked) but that this was a real thing happening and going on. I felt like I was getting an inside look at this gross subculture of vultures online. I then found the actual “official” page where these hackers originally posted these “Fappening” iCloud leaks, and the layout itself looked so creepy, it reminded me of those old IBM computers from the ’80s where the screen was black and the text appeared in a lime green font that made you feel like an alien sending a telegram.
I was also disgusted when I noticed on Instagam and Twitter, some users were reposting the leaked photos and trust me, some of those pictures were beyond inappropriate in which your parents who may have an account could’ve seen by accident. Seeing people repost these pictures on social media and re-tweeting them really bothered me. it’s embarassing! I just couldn’t. Sex and showing your body is nothing to be ashamed off, but this is was all starting to feel like a circus.
In the non-celebrity world, we’ve had these issues before in which “revenge porn” is our demise. While it’s not that uncommon at all for your boyfriend, girlfriend, or significant other to have intimate photos of you, revenge porn was a real problem with entrepreneurs for all the wrong reasons like Hunter Moore who thrived on angry, sudden exes who would “share” pictures of once private images for the world to see for pure humiliation. Moore’s website would even include any form of contact information so you could make them feel worse I suppose. It was disgusting, and while Moore was profiled in a cover story by New York’s The Village Voice, his site Is Anyone Up was being under investigation and eventually shut down. There have also been similar problems with sexting through simple text messaging and apps like Snapchat. These situations occur with everyday men and male celebrities as well, but they don’t get as lambasted as the women do, at least through the media. In everyday life, almost every girl has heard the term “dick pick” and has actually been sent one and trust me fellas, those pics get passed around just as badly as you “sharing” pics right now that don’t belong to you.
Oddly enough earlier this year the Cameron Diaz film Sex Tape poked fun at such ocurrences of vulnerable moments hitting the waves, but what I took from witnessing online the ruthless behavior at the expense of others was that the environment we live in is a scary enough of a place, is even more so with the world wide web involved, and that sometimes not being a celebrity is a great thing. I never shamed these women in the first place for taking the photos, but I denounced it because there are again just too many assholes roaming any available Wi-Fi’s that do stupid endeavors like the “Fappening” and the risk is not worth it. Like Gabrielle Union wrote in a shared statement with her husband Dwayne Wade that anyone that was targeted did nothing wrong. I’m not quite sure what these current leaked celebrity photo scandal means for us, but it does make you want to sleep with one eye open, bulletproof every password you have, keep memory cards under lock and key and if you lose the key good riddance, and maybe even start using disposable cameras.