“The Jennifer Lawrence Controversy” and Rubbernecking

This is what we do to celebrities, right? Now a days, with social media, everyone is a potential target.

So if you haven’t heard, a slew of actresses have had their private nude images stolen, or hacked, and the images have been made readily available on the internet. When I first heard of the story I’ll admit a moment of cro-magnon brand male lust. I’m a fanboy from time to time, sure, and I crushed on Jennifer Lawrence as hard as anyone.

I was close to following the rabbit hole when finally my super ego, or my conscience kicked in to stay my hand. I didn’t know Ms. Lawrence and I didn’t owe her anything more than I would another human being. That being the case I didn’t follow the links… not because I’m a good man, but because in this case I felt it was the right thing to do.

I’d been faced with similar choices before. For example when Saddam Hussein was publicly executed, I think he was hung, the broadcast was made available worldwide. I know what he did to his people, and he deserved what he got… but did I deserve to gawk? It seemed barbaric to participate in his death as a viewer, something akin to watching gladiators fight to the death in Roman times. We made a spectacle of the man’s death, and the only profit a viewer hoped to gain was, at its core, entertainment.

I didn’t want to be the kind of man that was entertained by real death.

You might think it is a stretch to compare the two situations. One is a “harmless nude photo” and the other the deserved death of a dictator linked to America’s 9/11 disaster, but to me there is a similar spectacle frenzy. Come watch this man be punished for his crimes and feel good that we have done justice in the world, this was the message for Hussein. Click on this link, see the nude photos you’ve always wanted to see, and take part in the greatest tragedy that has ever befallen one of America’s most beloved stars… after all she’s a celebrity and that means her life exists only to entertain you, right? I’m not so sure.

For Hussein, I was aware on some level that it was wrong for me to profit on his death, even if that profit was just “innocent fascination” or “justified satisfaction.” We should not celebrate execution. For Ms. Lawrence, she is completely undeserving of this breach of privacy. So yeah, in her case what you are feeling you might be able to convince yourself is just “innocent curiosity,” but the only justification you’ll be able to name is that she is a celebrity, and that doesn’t give you the right to profit from her plight.

Now let me be clear, just because I have shown restraint and respected one actresses’ privacy does not make me a completely enlightened man. I do watch porn, and even though I’m in a serious relationship I have fantasized about other women, and even some of my closest friends… what can I say? I’m a complicated man. But I think there’s a difference.

When I watch pornography I’m watching women who have consented to be filmed (and I use sites that have definitely paid their “performers,” none of that revenge filming bullshit). So there’s consent there. The women in that industry know they are creating a product. The actresses who have had their pictures stolen have given no consent, and Ms. Lawrence at least has made it clear that for her this is a nightmare. And my fantasies are my own, no one hears about them because i know what kind of damage that would do to the people I care about, and I’m mature enough to know the difference between fantasy and reality. I for one will not add to her nightmare, and I’m certain I am not the only one who feels this way.

I don’t think there’s a term for what’s happening here, but it’s like rape in that these women have had no choice in whether or not people view their images, and there are people who forced this situation onto them. It’s like rubbernecking too in that the “crash” is someone’s personally tragedy, and here we are hitting the breaks to get a better look. We don’t care if we’re slowing the people behind us because sure enough they’ll want to take a peek and see if there’s any guts on the road too.

I’m not Christian, or religious, or anything of the sort… and I wish we were a more moral country and society.


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