Refocus response to mass photo leak


By Kaanan Raja

While paparazzi may be obnoxious to celebrities, at least their presence is glaringly obvious. Anonymous hackers, on the other hand, sitting in the comfort of their own homes, invading others’ privacy and releasing the photos for the whole world — now there’s something to be afraid of.

On Aug. 31, almost 100 celebrities’ nude photos were released for the world to see on sites such as Reddit and 4chan. This included photographs of Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Ariana Grande and more.

In response, tabloids and news sources blew up, with headlines slapped on the fronts of newspapers and criticism scrawled across magazines.

While many responses following the leaked photos focused on why the pictures shouldn’t have been taken in the first place, all responses should have been focused on blaming the hackers who violated the privacy of these women.

For example, comedian Ricky Gervais, posted a tweet that appeared to blame the victims of this scandal stating, “Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.”

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And this was just the beginning. More negative responses flooded in as the list of hacked celebrities continued to grow over the following month with a recent breach in privacy on Sept. 26.

Those added to this tally included Kim Kardashian, Mary-Kate Olsen, Hayden Panettiere and more. The list now reaches up to 200 celebrities, and is believed to be the biggest celebrity hacking scandal in history.

While some may argue that in this day and age it is unwise to have nude or racy photos on your cell phone where they could easily be hacked into or even stolen, I think people should have the right to keep whatever they choose on their phone.

Furthermore, everyone has the right to keep their private life completely to themselves as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. What happens behind closed doors is not intended for all to see.

As actress and director Lena Dunham eloquently put it, “The ‘don’t take naked pics if you don’t want them online’ argument is the ‘she was wearing a short skirt’ of the web.”

The reason that the public was in a frenzy when these photos were released was because they were taken without the consent of the women in them. They were never meant to reach the public eye.

Targeted actress Jennifer Lawrence puts it perfectly stating, “Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. … It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.” 

The distribution of these images and the responses that followed shows the sense of entitlement that exists in this culture, which was demonstrated by those who circulated the images and those who criticized the actions of these women. 

In the media, headlines ran rampant with Glamour Magazine publicizing, “Jennifer Lawrence opens up about hacking scandal” and New York Daily News announcing, “Even after the celebrity hacking scandals, more and more of us are taking nude selfies.” 

While some tabloids, and even news sources, are referring to the incident as a scandal, I think these headlines should address these publicized pictures for what they were: a crime.

Do we really live in a nation where taking a nude photo receives more emphasis than the fact that this was a disgusting violation of privacy?

When we shame female celebrities (or any person for that matter) for taking personal pictures that were meant to be kept for themselves or shared with a partner, we take the attention away from the fact that their own privacy was breached and stolen from them.

Inadvertently, then, we support the anonymous hackers who exploited the lives of hundreds of people and fail to understand that the way in which we share our bodies must be a choice.

These are real women, and they deserve the respect that every human being deserves.

For those who support these female celebrities and recognize this act as a crime, continue to do so. For those who continue to shame these celebrities’ personal choices, reconsider who deserves the real shame in this crime — because it’s not these women.

Kaanan is a freshman in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected].