You’ve probably heard of what’s been dubbed ‘The Fappening’. You have now, at least, and you’re likely to hear much more about what will, almost certainly, go down as one of the more memorable days in internet history.
Hundreds of celeb nudes began leaking online via a number of popular chatboards and news aggregator sites sometime early Monday morning GMT, including – but not limited to – images of Kate Upton, Kaley Kuoco, Jennifer Lawrence, Victoria Justice, that one girl from Gilmore Girls and, supposedly, Ariana Grande. Those photos may have been hijacked via the wifi at the Emmy Awards ceremony – unlikely as that may be – but, at the time of writing, no one seems certain. Regardless, it was wonderful; it was glorious; it was like Christmas had come early. The more pics I saw, the more I felt a growing…
… sense of shame.
When The Guardian and The Washington Post broke the story of the NSA spying scandal last year, I was incensed. Previously, I’d treated politics and politicians with cynical disdain, but this was a trespass the likes of which I’d never have considered our politicians and governments to be capable. Now, in some ways, the two stories aren’t directly comparable. The illegal and immoral behaviour Edward Snowden exposed represented a betrayal that, for all their scandalous behaviour and dodgy bookkeeping, most people would never have expected their elected leaders to commit, let alone consider, whilst there seems to be a tacit assumption that anyone who makes a career in the public eye is opening up their private lives for public scrutiny, too.
Well, bullshit. When someone steps out of their home and onto the red carpet, they are making that decision in the knowledge that everything from their hairstyle, to the partner at their side, will become a topic of discussion and criticism. What those celebrities and creative types are not doing is inviting the public to follow them back into their homes, to nose around their finances and personal relationships and family difficulties and – yes – nude photos.
I’m not going to comment on the wisdom of celebs taking nude photos. They must surely realise that their very identities are a commodity; that it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ a nude photo will leak. Distasteful as I find it – ‘magazines’ like Hello! might as well be renamed Schadenfreude – they must know that the public at large will lap up every leaked nude like it’s water in the desert. Hell, leaked nudes are a perennial newsstory, and I’m not convinced they’re all as accidental as is claimed.
But we have to try to balance a pragmatic approach to the real with an ambition for the ideal. People want celeb nudes, they want celeb gossip, they want all the dirty little secrets and skeletons in the closet – but we don’t have a right to them. I walk down the high street in the knowledge that I’m putting myself in view of god knows how many CCTV cameras, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to set one up in my house. I’m publishing this article for public consumption, but that doesn’t make my private emails fodder for discussion, and walking down a red carpet is not the same as giving up a right to privacy and respect.
Man, I hate having principles.