I thought I had finally gotten “Call Me Maybe” out of my head, and then Carly Rae Jepsen became the most talked-about thing on the internet, and the song popped right back in. After two almost-scandals involving nude photos and a sex tape that were both found to be fake, the 26-year-old singer is in the midst of another media blitz over nude photos.
This time, it’s being reported, they’re real, the result of someone illegally hacking into her computer. Though Jepsen is the victim of criminal activity, most discussion of the photos has tended to blame, shame, and point fingers at Jepsen herself.
There are two common criticisms being thrown around. The first, very eloquently put forward by Camira Powell (among others), is that Jepsen stands to profit from the increased media attention. Camira correctly reminds readers that numerous stars, including Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, first earned their fame through making sex tapes. Perhaps, she poses, this was all in fact a publicity stunt propagated by Jepsen herself.
The second piece of criticism I’ve encountered is that, as one news outlet put it, “if you don’t want naked pictures of yourself leaked on the Internet, don’t take naked pictures of yourself.” I’m actually going to address this latter issue first.
Yes, I must concede, it is impossible to leak naked pictures that don’t exist. Nevertheless, the impetus lies not with Jepsen for (allegedly) taking the photos, but with whoever chose to violate her privacy and break the law by hacking into her laptop. The fact that this hacker happened to find naked photos does not mean that Jepsen deserved to be hacked. If Jepsen had been the victim of identity theft because a hacker stole her credit card information, I doubt that anyone would even think to insinuate that it was her fault for having credit cards.
You might argue that naked photos are far more scandalous than a credit card number. Why, exactly, is that? Jepsen is a legal adult who has every right to take photos of herself is she so chooses, and that is none of our business. The fact that people consider a woman worthy of having her privacy violated because she chose to take sexual pictures of herself is truly troubling, and seems to follow the same logic that people employ when they argue that a woman wearing a short skirt is “asking” to be raped.
The argument that these photos could be a publicity stunt is far more valid, but still has its roots in our culture’s flaws. If Jepsen chose to release this rumor, it’s only because she knows that nude photos are a surefire way to receive media attention. And that is only true because a media frenzy has accompanied the release of every scantily clad photo or sex tape. Paris Hilton only became famous after her sex tape because we made her that way, making what was at the time a betrayal by someone she had dated into front-page news. The more scandalized and outraged we get over nude photos, the more we famous someone can become for releasing them.
In a culture in which girls believe that nude photos are the easiest path to stardom and hackers believe that nude photos are an open invitation to break the law without doing anything wrong, we can probably expect to see a lot more of these stories in the future. Maybe then we’ll finally get sick of them.