"It's Different for Celebrities!"
I've heard this a lot, this idea that the stealing is OK because it happened to celebrities. You wouldn't steal a picture of your friend or co-worker naked and then share it with everyone you've ever met, but you don't mind staring at a picture of a naked celebrity, because that, we've all decided, is part of their job.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"You're a phenomenal actress, but your REAL talent is that you'll let me invade your privacy guilt- and consequence-free!"
Person A says, "Hey, should you be looking at that clearly personal picture of Kate Upton naked that was never meant for you? Would you be OK if someone leaked a bunch of nude photos of YOU?" And Person B says, "Of course not, but it's different for Upton, because she's famous. As a celebrity, the rules are different for her. She gets paid to travel around the world being famous, making the most money, getting the best seats at basketball games, and hanging out with other famous people. In exchange, she accepts that paparazzi and media critics and phone hackers are part of her life. My job ALSO has its downsides; we all make concessions."
People really cling to this idea that being a celebrity means you open yourself up to any and all criticism and invasion and attack, as if the fact that someone takes pictures of you in a bathing suit for the cover of a magazine means you're not allowed to have a personal life, or that you need to go to extreme lengths to protect that personal life, more extreme than the lengths normal people have to go to.
And I understand that people are suspicious when pictures like these make it to the Internet, because so far no celebrity to my knowledge has been harmed professionally after a breach (excepting perhaps Anthony Weiner, though it could be argued that his resignation was linked more to the fact that he was behaving inappropriately outside of his marriage and not simply because he took a picture of his dick and was like "Here, whomever"). I also understand that there are some people who are famous because of an intentionally released sex tape masquerading as a leak, and some have even built successful reality TV empires after alleged leaks. It's made people cynical and unsympathetic.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"You guys invaded my privacy SO HARD that now my children will want for nothing in this world."
But suffering professionally isn't the only kind of suffering that exists.
When you use this argument, here is what you're really saying:
"When someone becomes a celebrity, it dehumanizes them in my eyes, which makes it OK for me to feel nothing when I steal from them."
When you see an attractive person on a bus or at a coffee shop, maybe you have the restraint or basic human decency to think, "Boy, that person is good-looking, but oh well I'll just move on with my life." But if that person was Jennifer Lawrence, a FAMOUS PERSON who knows OTHER FAMOUS PEOPLE, you suddenly feel entitled to see her naked.
It's based on this idea of a contract that all celebrities have allegedly signed. "When she took out her personal camera, snapped a photo of her breasts, and sent them to her boyfriend who happened to be several thousand miles away, she KNEW there would be a risk that I would eventually be able to see them on my iPad, while sitting on the toilet. We entered into this agreement together the minute she decided to be famous and I decided not to be."
Anthony Harvey/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
"I have to agree to let everyone see my butthole? Did Clooney sign one of these?
Of course, this contract doesn't exist, and no one would sign it if it did, but that doesn't stop us from pretending that the unlicensed publication of personal photos is "part of the job" for famous people.
I don't want us to talk about selfies and how we should all apologize to these multimillionaires; I want to talk about privacy and rights while the topic is still timely and exciting enough that people will listen. There are a lot of conversations we SHOULD be having, conversations about celebrity culture, conversations about privacy, conversations about how the Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for women and plenty of others, I'm sure. But the Internet, the giant spider web of loud assholes that it is, is blocking those conversations from view with a bunch of white noise about public shaming and other nonsense. We just need to make sure the right conversations have time and space to take place before a week goes by, some other scandal happens, and we all move on to the next thing.
For more from Daniel, check out 4 Reasons Why Bad Movies Are Allowed to Happen and How a Comedy Article Got Me Placed On the No-Fly List.
Thankfully, famous people get to wear clothes whenever they want. Animal actors rarely receive the opportunity to hide their shame.
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